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How do you feel about roller coasters? I love them—everything about them. The anxiety that builds as you wait in line. That burst of giddiness and fear just before the first drop. And finally, the exhilaration of flipping, whipping, and zipping to the ride’s conclusion. This is parenthood—at least how I imagine it.

It really isn’t the beginning or the end that I find the most intriguing. It is the middle. Where the stories get fleshed out and the unexpected happens. That’s why it’s messy. It’s juicy. Have you ever seen Parenthood, the 1987 movie that starred Steve Martin and Mary Steenburgen? Did you enjoy it? I did. I was just a child, but I wanted to skip the merry-go-round and jump into the roller coaster. I wanted the excitement of introducing a new life into the world and discovering the person the child would grow into. I wanted to be a mother. I want to be mother.

But that isn’t how roller coasters work. They are not built by our desires alone.

Four years ago, my husband and I started trying to conceive. Since then, we have had countless negative home pregnancy tests, four failed intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), and one diagnosis. Unexplained infertility. Not helpful, to say the least. Certainly an unexpected twist (although, as a young teen, I suspected I might have difficulty getting pregnant). Now in my mid-thirties, I continue to wait in line. For how much longer? I’m not sure. But the ride hasn’t closed just yet.