We’ve been at the top of our adoption agency’s waiting list for weeks and weeks. Still, this time of waiting has been mostly, and surprisingly, happy. When I started trying to conceive, a little more than three years ago, I was in a daily search for self-knowledge and purpose and meaning, and I thought that motherhood would help me find answers. Instead, in the past three years I’ve had the chance to discover myself as my own person, before becoming a mom.
Last summer I was doped up on infertility drugs. The summer before last I was in and out of the hospital and stuck in bed for weeks with a painful ovarian cyst while trying to acclimate to a new city. This is the first summer in my recent memory when I am not moving across country or dealing with medical issues related to my gynecology. Instead, I’m savoring my health, doing headstands and handstands daily, and meditating in the mornings before getting out of bed.
My editor Danielle and I are putting the final touches on my forthcoming anthology about miscarriage, About What Was Lost, and are beginning to send the manuscript out into the world. It’s hard to believe that this book, so precious and personal, is actually coming to be, and that I’m lucky enough to have the experience of working with such a warm, smart, and sure-footed editor.
On the weekends, Neil and I take day trips with our dog Salem into the Vermont woods, out to the Cape Cod beaches, to western Massachusetts. We speak our daughter’s name to each other daily, sometimes hourly, like a promise. We imagine our future, and daydream about the sabbatical semesters we’ll spend in Europe, the year after the baby comes. Neil works and works and works, so that he’ll have time for the baby when she arrives.
Sometimes, I admit, I’m lonely, distracted and impatient. More often, I find that the extra time on my hands is a creative balm. Unexpectedly, I find myself on stage for the first time since my senior year of high school, performing in the comedy show Mortified. I read the poems about unrequited love and heartbreak I wrote as a teenager while smoking cigarettes out my bedroom window. A director sees my performance and asks me to audition for a small part in an independent feature he’s filming in Boston this summer. Why not? I will audition. I decide to spend a chunk of my summer spare time reading and begin to devour books like I did when I was a girl — a book a day sometimes — staying up past my bedtime, reading in the car, on walks, while eating breakfast and lunch and dinner.
Neil and I will be traveling together later this summer, and I feel like a teenager about to go on a grand tour — Paris and London, Los Angeles and Montreal, a long weekend camping with dear friends in North Carolina. Still in Cambridge, we take a few hours each weekend to organize our small apartment, making way for the baby. We’ve always slept on a mattress and box spring on the floor, but parenthood inspires us to buy a bed from IKEA for ourselves in addition to a crib that we will station next to us. Our second bedroom, once meant for the baby we expected years ago, is now entrenched in our minds (and my work habits) as my writing study and yoga room and we decide to keep things as they are, with the addition of a big dresser and some additional bookshelves and storage for baby things. This is a big step for me — to say that my need for an office might be more pressing than the baby’s “need” to have a picture-perfect nursery. I am coming a long way toward becoming the kind of mother who might teach her daughter something about self-respect, and a thing or two about how to be happy.