A woman holds her abdomen lightly, unconsciously, as she looks at babies in the mall. A man pauses by playgrounds to watch children play with their dads, and wonders if he'll ever get so lucky. It's Spring, the worst time of the year for baby lust.
Spring, when the world comes alive again and promptly reproduces. For a human being who wants to be a parent but who currently can't (due to life circumstances or infertility), Spring is cruel. Spring's fecund excesses elicit burning and cramping envy, destroy sanity, and oppress with thwarted desire. Little birdies with nest-building twigs in their beaks, fuzzy Canada goslings peeping in the park near the city lake, and clutches of kittens, eyes still shut, begging for Mama Kitty milk—the world's copious abundance depresses. Even the *&^@% fruit trees are busy blooming and fruiting this time of year. And not you. And not you. And not you—everything reminds. Everything shouts. You don't have a baby; you are not pregnant, no.
Spring was the hardest time of year when my old childhood friend "Melissa" was trying to get pregnant—and failing—and taking Clomid to conceive—and failing—and going through IVF--and getting pregnant with twins but miscarrying. "Winter is fine," she'd say (and I paraphrase). "The world is dank and cold, and everybody's grumpy, there's a sense that we're all miserable together. In Spring, I walk down the street and even the dogs are pregnant. I mean, a DOG can have babies, why can't I?"
When I see the longing looks of men and women peering into a baby carriage, I'm so aware of the depth of baby fever; it's not a light or passing sensation. Wanting a baby is irrational—it's a desire that can't be explained away. It occurs in most people. It is, after all, the true life force. And with it can come frustration, sorrow, and loss, while at the same time, the world rubs it in. Sunshine, and pregnant women in summer dresses. Daddies and nannies pushing strollers, calming tantrums, and explaining the concept of "sharing" to toddlers. Without a baby, wanting a baby, you stand outside the window of the candy store, wanting in.
It's irrational. You know about the sleep deprivation, years of worry, bodies bloated from pregnancy, stretch marks, boredom, career frustration, lack of patience, money worries, and the absence of privacy that comes with parenthood. Yet you do not care. If you can, you'll make a baby. If you can't you'll try and try... you'll test and inject, measure and chart, and beat yourself up. And finally you'll resolve it, through pregnancy success, adoption, or acceptance.
Spring ends—I don't know if the pain and sense of personal inadequacy of infertility ever completely goes away. (I'd ask my friend Melissa, but she's usually too busy to talk, her hands full with twin toddler boys—yes, IVF babies!) But Spring ends. Summer comes. Fall, with its busy back-to-school quality, Winter with its holiday flurry and eventual gray glumness. Another year, more changes.
When you struggle with infertility, it's hard to find the place within yourself that believes reproduction is not just biological, or that biological reproduction is not the only way to truly create. You can make a mark on the world in so many ways. You can affect other humans, fix the ailing planet, and affect change. So many children—here, in China, across the globe—need arms to hold them. And isn't that reproduction, too? Reproducing the good in yourself, in the world, improving and creating?
Meanwhile, it is Spring. Outside my window, a pair of squirrels cavort, driving the dog crazy with their flirty display, and even the insects are mating. It's Spring, in all its glory and madness.