To the Woman Who Offered Me Her Womb

Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.

The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.

The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.

The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.

And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.

The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.

“What the Heart Cannot Forget” by Joyce Sutphen

I remember you: meek, friendly, heart dripping stars. We were friends, but not close friends. We were the kind that said “hey” in the halls and wrote “you’re a sweetheart” and “call me this summer” in that year’s yearbook, but never called.

I hadn’t heard from you in over 20 years when we became friends on social media. And we were “friends” in the way it often dictates: the one where you don’t necessarily talk or share, but have access to another’s life, just in case you really want it.

I’d thought of you off and on, especially when I’d see photos or updates roll past my feed, and then one day you reached out.

I remembered thinking it was likely a message sprinkled with nostalgia and perhaps a bit of regret–the kind that comes from losing touch–but what I found was this:

I am not sure where you are in life but I just wanted to reach out to you with an offer. I have thought a lot about this in the past 2 1/2 years since my family has been complete. I am looking into the process of being a surrogate/ gestational carrier for someone. I have done research on several agencies but I am somewhat reluctant to go through an agency because often times they charge the hopeful family a large amount of money for the service. I am not interested in profiting at all from this, I only want to help out. God has blessed me with smooth, uncomplicated pregnancies and I have never suffered a loss. I carried twins until 36 weeks, 4 days and they had no NICU time. I would be willing to carry multiples again. I have followed your blog and I cannot seem to get you or your struggle and pain out of my head. Having a family was a number one priority for me and I cannot imagine what you have gone through. I am very sorry if this offer is coming at a bad time and I completely understand if you are not interested but I just thought I would offer since I will most likely continue to search for a hopeful family in need of help if you are not interested. I feel like we have one chance in this life to make a difference and help others and this is one way I could help someone.
God Bless.

There was nothing to do but cry.

There have been moments when, in blistering heat, I haven’t been offered a sip of water. There have been moments when, in complete and utter despair, an embrace has been withheld. There have been moments when those I love have asked that I never consider them a bodily ally against infertility and pregnancy loss. That I never consider them surrogates of body or spirit.

And then there’s you, offering nearly a complete stranger your womb. And what is it you ask in return??

Nothing.

My heart still hangs on the moon of that evening, grateful that people like you exist…grateful to know people like you exist. And tiny words like Thank you? They’re insufficient.

I know that.

So what do you say to a woman who offered to place your heart in hers?

What can you say?

What can I say?

I can tell you that I will be honoring you, and all those with like hearts, this Mother’s Day and everyday.

It’s women like you–whether through surrogacy or adoption–who give the gift of motherhood to those who would otherwise remain childless.

It’s women like you who give us hope.

It’s women like you who remind us that a child doesn’t have to pass through us to be born of us.

It’s women like you who embody Grace and prove that we are each other’s keepers.

It’s women like you who allow us a chance to cloak ourselves in midnight and miracles and step onto the magically tragic, heartrendingly surreal, life-altering ride that is parenthood.

It’s women like you.

Dear Uterus: You Are a Murderous Bastard

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In my head, murderous bastard just isn’t right. I mean, certainly there are more eloquent ways to express my hatred of your serial killing, your incompetence when nurturing a fertilized ovum, and your obvious disdain for human life. But nothing comes, so murderous bastard it is.

In days past, I looked down at women who were in the place I now find myself. I thought how very sad it must be to be them. How very unfortunate not to make lemonade out of the lemons so viciously hurled at us in the forms of infertility, miscarriage and neonatal death. But today I think lemonade is overrated. And anger? It’s pretty liberating.

I’ve always been the one who sought out the right thing and hiked the high road. And I’ve prided myself on the fact that even in the most soul searing of circumstances, I haven’t lost my shit. I guess I thought that keeping myself together meant success, but what it really meant was an excuse not to feel as deeply as one needs in order to heal. Because something happens when a thing or person is broken, there are shards that go missing which forever change the shape of the traumatized vessel. And you realize, then and there, that wholeness takes on an entirely different meaning.

You, dear uterus, have one job to do in your miserable, pear-shaped life and that is to oversee the development of an embryo and fetus. Sadly, you have failed three heartbreaking times. In any other circumstance, you would have received a sincere come to Jesus, been put on leave, or been relieved of your duties. Because obviously, if you can’t perform, what are you really worth? But I held on, hoping you’d redeem yourself. Hoping that I wouldn’t have to hate you the way I have and do now.

After baby loss number 3, I sat as judge and jury. It would have been easy for me to give you death. I mean, you meet the basic requirements of a serial killer, don’t you: “someone who murders more than three victims one at a time in a relatively short interval”? I thought of what it’d be like to push the button that sent the needle into your arm. But drifting off to sleep never to wake was too good for you. You needed hard time. You needed to realize what your neglect caused. And who isn’t here because of it.

I was all too happy to lead you to the cell where you’d be left to think on your offenses. And when I locked you inside and swallowed the key I thought everything had been made right: you were where you should be and I had a second chance. What I didn’t realize was that since that day, I’ve been locked inside that cell with you. I’ve been my own prisoner. And I’ve been yours, as well.

Life gets in the way of life sometimes. It certainly has in my case. I did what I was supposed to: I fell in love, got married and tried to start a family. I played by the rules, but I didn’t win any jackpot in the form of sweet-smelling lumps of flesh whose giggles are like jumper cables to the heart. I didn’t win anything short of loss and heartache. And I’ve felt angry about that. I have.

I feel the anger rise when I read another story of an unwanted child who was beaten, neglected or murdered. I feel it when I meet women who don’t question that their pregnancies will be successful, who don’t know what I know. I feel it when I’m accused of being selfish when refusing to watch a video of a friend’s newborn or when I can’t drag myself to another baby shower. I feel it when I’m the only non-mother in a circle of women complaining about what a bitch motherhood is. I feel it nearly every day.

Today is laced with thoughts of Jasmine French and the film Blue Jasmine. In it she declares, “…there’s only so many traumas a person can withstand until they take to the streets and start screaming.” This is me taking to the streets. This is me screaming. This is me:

Broken. Barren. Beyond.

I don’t know what the future holds, dear uterus, but if you ever find yourself in a position to hold life again, would you please hold it?

Because it’d be nice not to hate you anymore.

It really would.