By Sonia Chintha
It’s late Autumn. Sunday. Cheery yellow leaves cover the driveway like an aisle for a wedding; we walk towards the front door, hand in hand. Our realtor unlocks the door and holds it open for us to step in. I go first and am tentative. We start downstairs in the kitchen; its black and white theme, the opposite of the coloring I’d been dreaming about, invites me to open my mind. The bay window in the breakfast nook is exactly like the one from every 90’s sitcom that I’ve dreamed of living in. Upstairs, the floorboards creak in the hallway outside the office door. I noticed the sound right away, imagining myself tiptoeing over the spot as my future baby sleeps in that room. Just like the vision of tiny hands helping me garden our first vegetables in the backyard and tiny feet kicking a soccer ball around the cul de sac. It was an ideal house to start my family and though I was scared of how my life would change, I couldn’t get that image out of my mind. Thirty days later, we signed the closing papers and kissed in the car, sealing the next phase. One we were certain would go as we’d imagined.
One year after moving in, after a fun and scary conversation, Neil and I chose to start the baby making process. I’m not going to go crazy and track my period or ovulation, I told myself. No insanity allowed. After five months passed, and then six, and then seven, I began questioning if I was doing it right, questioning whether I was having sex the right way, not just the timing, but the act itself.
I didn’t know this would be my experience. All my life, I assumed when it was time, I’d have sex and bam baby! When it didn’t happen this way, I slowly began to crumble. I obsessed over being pregnant and felt like it was my fault that it hadn’t happened yet. Something was obviously wrong with me because all the females in my life have been able to achieve pregnancy with ease…or so it seemed. As months turned into years, I slid into a dark hole where I didn’t allow anyone in. I would go to work each day dressed in bright colors, with bright lipstick, perfect waves in my hair and laugh with colleagues and students. Then, I’d come home in the evenings, sit on my couch by myself, eat, watch television, and cry. I spent many months in this cycle.
A trusted friend told me that not getting pregnant after trying for a lengthy period of time is like a loss, you have to mourn it and take a break just like you would if you had, say miscarried. It got me thinking about how I’d already begun that process: every time I saw a pregnancy announcement or a pregnancy storyline or a photograph of a friend showing off her baby bump at various stages, I mourned. Although I didn’t want to cry because a friend just told me she is pregnant, I had to mourn. I had to mourn to release all that junk inside to live my life and move forward–get unstuck.
Mourning is on-going.
Three years later, I walk past that same room still an office–awaiting its transformation and I remember. I remember the feeling of thinking for a brief two days that maybe, just maybe you were growing inside me. The feeling of absolute fear and pure joy. I remember all the plans I secretly made, sure that you would come with ease. I remember sitting on the floor of that small square office, decorating the walls in my head. I knew I wanted this house the minute I saw those tiny hands and feet. I knew it was mine to make my home.
Some days, those floorboards, they creak and I stop to look into that room which is still exactly as we left from the first day we moved in. It’s hard to release the idea of you. It’s the right thing to do, move on, live in the present. Still, I crave to take control: fill out adoption papers, cut a check, mail it off, put my name on the list. It is not time for that, however. Not today anyway. So I pass the office trying to let go, and instead I hold on tighter. I walk in and out, yearning for it to be an office, just an office. Still it will always be your room. I close the door gently, then open it a crack so light can pass through, just in case.
Sonia Chintha is an Indian American writer who lives in the Washington DC area. She blogs, writes poetry, and fiction. She is also an English teacher who believes that our experiences teach us more than any test. She is the founder and co-editor of Good Little Girls.