Makin’ babies, or, clearly DH and I don’t really love each other or otherwise we’d have a house full of li’l pukers
So sometime this week, now that life is SLIGHTLY less insane and, of course, I’m actually living in the same STATE as my DH again, I’ll be making my first appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist. In English, that means that making babies the good old fashioned way just isn’t working for us.
So clearly, since I must live in some outlying district of RomanceLand (being a romance author myself, you see), my DH and I don’t have True Lurve. Because in RomanceLand, True Lurve comes with lots of baby booties. In fact, the heroine typically gets pregnant the first time the hero’s penis is waved in the general direction of her vagina. That’s how you know it’s True Lurve. In historicals particularly, our spunky heroine never makes babies with her first husband, if she had one, who either didn’t really love her or never figured out what the tab A/slot A was there for in the first place (because he “thought of her as a daughter,” and if the idea of some old man marrying a young girl and playing the role of Daddy Dearest isn’t creepy, I don’t know what is….). But when her One comes into the room, it’s ovulation at first sight.
Once you’re with the Right Person in RomanceLand, the sound of little pattering feet starts haunting your dreams–almost without exception. And this really pisses me off–for reasons entirely unrelated to our current situation. This pissed me off back when I was pregnant with the Bear, and that pregnancy pretty much went like, “Well, DH and I think it would be nice to have babies some–oh. Never mind. Ahem.” I wrote the epilogue of The Veil of Night without an inkling that I’d ever be in the infertility boat myself–no reason to think so. (In fact, I wrote it with a baby across my knees, privately thinking, “Are you THAT SURE you want a kid?” when he asked to nurse AGAIN only half an hour after gorging himself last time in a pattern that had been repeating for the last eight hours…)
But I wrote it because I couldn’t stand the romance trope that the strength of one’s love is proved by the productivity of one’s uterus. The instanto-pregnancies, the baby-powder-and-burp-cloth epilogues and, good Lord, the sappy we-have-nine-children-but-are-always-in-the-mood-only-now-in-a-sweeter-way endings…blech! (Ladies and gentlemen, morning sickness is not a turn-on! Really! And waking up buried in small, sticky bodies who have wandered in in the night might have a certain fuzzy-warm charm, but it does not easily segue into a romantic tryst! And don’t get me started on the Regency mommies and daddies who gleefully change every nappy with their own two hands despite the fact that he is the Duke of Greatwealth with eighty-five servants in his town house alone. *rolls eyes*)
Now, I understand the idea that, after their travails, we want to make our characters’ happily-ever-afters as happy as they can be. And I understand that, particularly in historical situations in which Lord Devlin Sinclair needs his heir, children can be a great part of that. But the entire situation rubs me the wrong way. Miscarriages and infertility simply aren’t allowed to exist in RomanceLand not only because they’re ugly and unpleasant but because there’s a kind of kneejerk attitude that babies validate a marriage and so not having babies shows that the marriage is bad and the gods hate you. And that pretty much infuriates me, even though I do have my own bouncing bundle of joy (joy, mischief, what’s the difference?) sleeping snuggly in bed upstairs.
I’m not really a huge mess of emotions over this. It’s frustrating, exasperating, and bitterly ironic that I have to turn to medical intervention since I’ve pretty much concluded that most doctors can’t diagnose or treat anything more complicated than a cold. I’m not a weepy mess every time I get my period–or, worse, a weepy mess every time my period is late and I know why and it comes *anyway* two weeks later. I can hold other people’s babies without a pang, though part of it has been because I have been very careful NOT to count months, and my one friend who had a baby who would have been exactly the same age as the one who came furthest along was left in New Mexico (though, damn, it was hard not to cry the first time I saw her…). But it’s crap that our entire genre–written by WOMEN for WOMEN–seems to reduce the value of our relationships to a mere mechanical fertility. Shouldn’t we treat women better than that? 11-year-olds can pop out a screaming brat and swagger around with it, bragging about their baby daddies. (By my count, the first girl to get pregnant in my grade did so at the age of 10.5!) That doesn’t mean you know a thing about life, much less love. Our entire genre, all to often, acts like that girl, throwing her swelling belly around as proof that someone loves her.
We need to grow up. Get over it. Stop treating children as a love-test and start treating them as actual human beings and the relationships of our protagonists–yes, married protagonists with their HEAs firmly in hand–as something more significant than doe-eyes, smarmy smirks, and half a dozen too-cute-to-be-real genetic knockoffs. And stop implying that those who can’t or don’t care to make a houseful of testaments to their lurve aren’t somehow not really in love.