Once upon a daydream, back when we still thought it possible to get knocked up the old-fashioned way (or like, you know, at all), we anticipated there’d come a day when, barely able to contain a growing baby bump, we’d announce our news to the family. We’d make a real scene.
It’d go like this: We’d be reminiscing about bygone days, how people are getting older and roles are changing and kids are becoming parents and parents are becoming grandparents and grandparents are dying and telling these long-lost stories so their progeny won’t forget just where they came from, and I’d say something like this.
Me: It’s all just a little bit of history repeating, isn’t it?
Mom/Dad: Whatever do you mean?
Me: I mean there’s not very much that hasn’t been done before.
Mom/Dad: Such as?
Me: Such as this.
Mom: Oh, well that’s your grandmother. And me. And, say, didn’t we, when you were little…?
Me: Why yes. Yes we did.
That’s me in the pink visor.
Mom/Dad: And maybe someday…
And then I’d throw down the picture that doesn’t actually exist. In it, the Projected Pops and I are standing in precisely the same spot in that storybook park in New Jersey, flanked by blue-as-if-a-boy-blue/pink-as-if-a-girl-pink balloons and holding a poster-sized ultrasound picture. Mom/Dad both start crying happy tears and we tell them about how we got knocked up without really trying (but not not trying either, if you catch my drift).
Once upon a daydream.
But once upon a waking-life nightmare, we couldn’t get knocked-up the old-fashioned way. For a while, we clung to hope that fertility treatments would work and we’d still get to live our storybook preggo fantasy (with a twist, it just took a minute). But then a minute turned two (years) and we turned tired. And pragmatic. On the cusp of resolution, which might maybe have nothing to do with pregnancy, we took a little emotional cost-benefit analysis and determined our interest in please-lawdy-we-just-want-to-be-like-other-Almost-Parents was maybe outweighed by the reality that we’re…well, not. We’re two people who, on the eve of throwing in the towel and/or radically altering the means to the end, officially can’t bear inquiries about whether we’re ever going to try to make babies (uhh, check) and what on earth we’re waiting for (a positive pregnancy test). We decided it’s maybe time to come out to those poor, unsuspecting Would-Be Grandparents so they don’t think we’re stubborn, mostly, and so they’re not confused if I never gain baby weight and their beautiful grandkid doesn’t look anything like us.
Plus they’re conveniently coming for a visit. We’ll have them together and to our lonesome for the first time in a long time and we’ll have them to dinner.
Over a home-cooked meal and in between progesterone injections: Surpise, Mom! We’re (not) pregnant. At all. Not even a little bit.
We’re imagining a worst case scenario in which there’s screaming and crying and uncontained worry and we thereafter field several-times-daily phone calls along the lines of, “Well? Do you know anything? What did the doctor say? What’s the consistency of the cervical mucus? Did you decide to stop treatment? Are you sure about that? What did the agency people say? Wait, wait: No babies?! Noooo!”
And we’re envisioning another scenario in which they don’t really care about any of this except if we do. There will be no tears of sorrow on our behalf or theirs because for what? They aren’t shocked at all because they’ve suspected this all along. (Think: “Duh. We knew you had issues when you didn’t come back from your honeymoon knocked up! It’s been well over three years! C’mon, what do you take us for?”) They become our hugest sources of consolation and support after one another. We’ll phone them if we need a pick-me-up: a reminder that sometimes you get what you need and we’ve still got options…none of which is really so terrible, by the way.
The announcement of our un-pregnancy will, most likely, yield a response that falls somewhere between the extremes of disastrous and anticlimactic, a combination of regret mixed with sweet relief because it had to be like this and this is the way it is.
Sometimes, family history sees outliers. Sometimes, you’re it.