Last Thursday, sitting in my hairdressers chair at 5:20 pm, I decided on the spur of the moment to change my hair colour. I have been a red head for most of my life. By 8 pm, I was a brunette. A brunette with hair so dark it almost black. On Friday, all day, people stopped to tell me they liked my hair. People who had not seen me in a while asked what I was doing differently. It’s not just the hair, it’s not just the weight loss. One woman finally hazarded a guess ” You look happy. Your eyes are sparkling. You carry yourself differently”.
I’ve been thinking about this, thinking about it in the light of yesterday’s post about what I will do when this project is over. I had planned, all those month’s ago, to get pregnant very close to the end of the project. Well, let’s be clear, I had planned to try and get pregnant, to try and stay pregnant, to try and deliver a living child.
In December, just before Jamaica, I went back to the fertility specialist. I’ve been struggling ever since. Not because of what the specialist said – she’s both kind and honest. My changes aren’t great. They never were. The numbers for fertility treatments aren’t spectacular, less than 50-50, compounding the result of the pre-eclampsia, my numbers for live birth are dismal. It’s not the pain of another miscarriage, a thing that has become old hat, and is, if I am truthful, not earth shattering to me. No, the risk lies in another baby in my arms for 30 minutes. That pain far eclipses yet another miscarriage. I should think myself fortunate to only suffer another miscarriage. I do not think I could survive the funeral of another baby.
In came the rolling blood pressure monitor. The truth about blood pressure monitors and me is this: I see them, and I am not sitting in an office, healthy and whole. You hook me to them, and I am back in a hospital bed with alarms going off, my son and I dying in concert. Now my kidney’s are mostly whole, my heart no more damaged than it was at my birth, an MRI proves I didn’t have a stroke. In any doctor’s office, in any place where others would take it, my blood pressure is alarmingly high. White Coat Syndrome, as real as my son’s death, the only legacy of pre-eclampsia. It frustrates me that I cannot master it, that I cannot control it, but in some strange way, I make my peace with it. If that is the only remaining problem of the way pre-eclampsia ravaged my body, well it is not so bad. It is a thing that I can live with. I escaped with good fortune. I will not call it weakness that blood pressure monitors disturb something deep within me.
The LPN looked at my numbers. I wasn’t too concerned. I knew what my BP was at home. I knew I didn’t have a blood pressure problem. Instantly she started in about how I had to be on medication, how I was at huge risk. I explained, patiently, that I had to stop taking my medication because it dropped my BP too low. I passed out. I explained that my GP was fine with my home numbers, I explained that I was fine. I do not have a bp problem, at least not yet. I have a doctor problem.
And not so subtly she made it clear to me, I have no say. I am not a person, I am a patient. My body is not my own. The doctor will decide. And suddenly, where I didn’t expect it, I had a fight on my hands. I could feel my back getting up, I could feel my frustration, I was impotent, all over again. If I want to get pregnant, I will play by their rules, even when their rules are dumb. I will justify and explain, I will not be a partner, I will be the combatant. The woman who is too stupid to sit down and shut up. The woman who will not get on the ride and do what she is told.
I am reflecting on this, the feeling of powerlessness I had in that specialist’s office, and how very much I hated it. I am reflecting about having a baby, and laying it out. It contrasts starkly with the power I have found in myself, in my work. I wonder, more and more, about why I am so willing to put my body through hell and huge risk, to have a baby. And I think back to that terrible feeling of powerlessness and control, to being almost victimized, and I wonder why on earth I would willingly do that to myself. Why would I willingly gear up for a fight when the outcome is so uncertain? Why would I sit down and shut up, trade person hood for something so unlikely?
In some abstract sense, I would like to have a child of my own. I would like to have not just Gabriel, but a living sibling as well. And yet, I’m finding, I don’t want a child so badly that I’m willing to play the game. I don’t have the fight in me for it.
There’s that woman, the woman with the dark hair. The woman that people look at and see happiness. 3 years ago, I suppose I would never have believed it – that happiness and I would find each other. I am happy. I love my job, I love my life. It’s a good life. I’ve seen better than the fight. I’ve seen happiness now.
And I’m looking at that woman, almost outside of myself, and I’m wondering, really wondering. Why would I take that away from her? Why would I plunge her into someone else’s game, a game that statistics say she will not win. Why would I do that?