It’s been awhile since I was grateful for my period. I have been counting down the months until my husband and I would finally try for a child. We have been patient. We met when I was 18, back when I assumed it was just a casual college thing. He became my first love and as we continuously found the next right thing was each other, we got married. It has been five wonderful years. Our ups and downs, our joys and sorrows, grateful for every one of them. From the beginning of when we became us, we knew we wanted to have children. We were young though, and had been a part of families that had kids within the first year of marriage and knew it wasn’t for us. So we planned and waited.
We have pulled ourselves out of difficult financial situations, given each other space to grow, and started to really create a home together. We have saved, and were preparing to look at apartments with an extra bedroom to accommodate us and our potential offspring. Then the pandemic came through.
Keeping Hope Alive
We did not immediately take our hopes and dreams off the table. Wasn’t even the first thought on my mind. We would just have to hunker down for a bit, then this too would pass. What we were discovering though was how much had been going on weeks before the pandemic was declared. How not enough action had been taken when it was most crucial. And slowly the little disappointments started to stack up. Everything that could be canceled was canceled. We started absorbing the terrifying reality that tens of thousands of people would die. Our only prayer at this point hoping that some of the people we loved (ourselves included) might survive this hell.
A Painful Reality
There was no way I could conceive of bringing a child into this particular world. Pregnancy was fraught with challenges under the best of circumstances. Who could guess if there would be enough health care workers to give me the support I needed, let alone risking exposure to COVID 19. I had held onto hope that this summer would finally be the time when the periods would stop and I would see those happy pink lines on the pregnancy test. But this most recent period came with a sense of urgency and grief. I felt lonely and empty in a way I had never felt before.
Life On Hold
I don’t know when it will be safe to be touched by anyone but my husband. The thought of bringing a child into the world and not having my community with me—physically with me—it completely breaks my heart. I already had hesitations and anxiety about being a parent when the world didn’t feel like chaos. Taking our time was something I deeply valued. Time to grow: spiritually, financially, emotionally. I know you can never be ready, but I felt I was in a space where I was ready enough. Until the pandemic stretched it’s slimy choke hold into my own backyard. So my womb remains empty, our plans put on hold until who knows when.
An Unknowable Future
Now instead of each period being a countdown to rolling the dice of fertility, becomes a solemn reminder of grief: of chances lost and plans rearranged. I suck in my breath and wonder too if the people I love and want to be around me when it’s safer to bring a child into this madness will even be there. I wonder if I’ll even have the strength and hope to want to move forward and create life, or if the death toll by that point will have worn me down too much.
I am reminded with each period that children are an expression of hope. A promise of a future. The future feels even hazier, as I try to squint into the crystal ball. I used to imagine a blurry future of children, laughter, a few cats, my parents as happy grandparents, in a home of our own. I squint into the crystal ball now and all I see is thick darkness. There is a future, that much is always true, but my imagination only sees worst case scenarios. So I don’t dwell on the pessimism or hope of the future, there truly is only the now.
I recognize I can live without being a parent, even though it is something I really want and desire. Still I have known great love. I have lived without regrets. I have my own small legacy. As I brace myself for the worst of this pandemic, I think I might even be okay if the story line ends with just the two of us.
Perhaps in a few months time, I’ll have new perspective, but as my period reminds me of my empty womb, and part of me mourns, another part of me is deeply grateful. No child to be afraid for. No child to protect. No child to mourn. No child at all. At least that is one thing I can control and keep safe, because day by day it seems like what I have in my control grows smaller and smaller. In time a few years from now there could be a little one, but in the midst of this horror, this ongoing grief, I see the blood in the toilet and I am deeply relieved.