It all starts with an idea. Maybe you were a child yourself when you first thought it, that your life should include children. But you also remember asking your mother when you were small, “Why would anyone want kids?” All the ones in your house were always so noisy and messy. And your mother went on about the joy of watching you grow up and about the beauty of you becoming someone completely new in the world. And you believed her joy.
It all starts with a romance that you didn’t write, a yarn about how the bonds between a mother and her child are the strongest on earth. The cover of the book looks like this, and since you can’t imagine such a bond, it becomes the greatest fantasy in your life:
You start every morning by charting your temperature. Each day a hope builds as the temperature rises and crashes each month when the temperature falls back down, a stumbling idiot your body is, has become. You make love by the calendar and try to believe in the power of positive thinking.
You feel empty…literally. You curse the doctors who gave you artificial hormones to keep you empty without ever wondering about what it might do to your body after a decade and a half. And now without them, the natural rhythms your body learned at birth have been so discouraged, so downright stripped out of you, that you don’t know how to listen to yourself anymore. Everything is so quiet and you know it’s really your fault.
It all starts with a story about a life that you make yourself, a paint-by-number child. Your husband brings home a box set of Roald Dahl books, painting in the heart. You buy children’s book art for the walls, hang it up like there’s someone to see it. You’ve had fifteen months of trying and you’re thirty-six, but the movie This is 40 has two women at least five years older than you doing it. And you’ve been taught your whole life to live and die by romantic comedies.
So you believe in yourself like there’s something to lose. Like you’ve already lost something. Like this story you’re trying to write is your only possible story, the one, the great American novel. As if this is the way to god.