When we found out we were pregnant, it was one of the happiest things to happen to us. We were over 12 weeks pregnant when we started telling our friends and family.
As we shared the happy discovery—the pregnancy test, the first ultrasound, the early symptoms—we realized nobody really knew the full story, from the moment we started trying until this year, when it finally happened. “Nobody knows everything we went through,” Oneal said.
It was true. People knew we were trying to get pregnant, but very few people knew about the time and effort–and the emotional upheaval–that went into it. “You have to write about it,” Oneal urged. I agreed, and so I wrote.
I wrote for several reasons.
One is really selfish: I need to write about it. Now we’re happy and excited, but looking back, I remember that it was such a long journey, fraught with pain, trauma and anxiety. Writing about it helps me process all the frustration of the past five years.
Another reason is that people are so insensitive when you’re childless. People assume every couple wants children. But when you don’t have kids yet, people assume and attach negative connotations to the idea that you’re “too busy” with work, that you’re “prioritizing your career” or “masyado kayong nag-e-enjoy.” But they don’t know the whole story, and they don’t realize how hurtful their words are.
To the people who think my work should take second priority to motherhood: what I do is not up to you. Screw you.
Lastly, fertility problems come with so much stigma. People think it’s a woman’s problem. Men don’t want to admit if the problem is with their reproductive system, or they think fertility issues make them less of a man. People think it’s a shame, an embarrassment when you can’t have kids. People look at you with pity. People pat your hand or your shoulder and say “in God’s own time” or “just relax, darating lang yan” and other patronizing, incredibly infuriating things. People make lewd jokes suggesting that all you need to do is have more sex. And on April Fools’ Day, people think it’s hilarious to pretend they’re pregnant.
But it’s not funny, not at all. It’s hurtful and insensitive, and it just makes couples with fertility issues want to crawl under a rock and hide forever.
So I wrote this to get that conversation going. To remind people that it’s not okay to make assumptions about other people’s reproductive choices. To show people that a thoughtless remark can trigger a sleepless night full of tears. And to remind myself and Oneal just how hard we worked to get here.
It’s going to be a long read, because it took us five years to get here. So here goes.