Dreams of our future home life became intertwined with our IVF expectations. When I put my home remodel in the context of infertility I found some poignant parallels.
So, the family dreams started eight and a half years when we bought our house. It was a modest-sized but quirky ranch with an unusually large amount of roof glass that flooded the dining and family room with natural light. This feature appealed to me. I lived 30+ years in Southeastern Michigan where the skies are often the color of wet cement. Accordingly, the generous light was a gift from the heavens.
The house, however, was confused. It didn’t know if it wanted to be 1968 California ranch with three tiny bedrooms, or a 1979 groovy pad with track lighting and a European kitchen that opened into a large solarium. The previous owner clearly had visions of a party house. The backyard held a 40-year-old pool with an ancient, wheezing gas heater. We rarely turned it on since it cost a fortune to take the chill out of the water. We pretended when getting in the pool. We told ourselves it was really a brisk fresh water lake. It brought to mind Torch Lake in northern Michigan. It will turn your lips blue in August.
Great Schools, Large Kitchen
Among other reasons, we bought the house due to it’s location in one of the best school districts in the Bay area. We were in the midst of IVF with fragile dreams of turning one of the small bedrooms into a nursery. We dreamed of one day playing in the pool with our kid(s), and of having noisy coloring contests in the sun-splashed kitchen.
Those were the days when we didn’t spend a dime on the house. That’s because we put all of our money into doctor visits and treatments. Our house stayed confused with kitchen appliances that threatened regularly to die. We nursed our dishwasher along. We joked about putting our refrigerator into the Smithsonian. We watched as our stove top went from four to two functioning burners. One day our stove vent just stopped working. I think it went on strike in solidarity with my uterus.
When we looked into replacing the built-in stove, we learned it’s complicated architecture. It would require tearing up part of the kitchen. More than a year went by. Our white cabinets took on a yellowed look from the steam generated from one too many pots of boiling pasta.
Questions two years ago arose after we fully released the hold on our fragile dreams of conceiving. If we’re going to touch the kitchen and get new appliances and cabinets, why don’t we just re-do the kitchen entirely? Why not bring it into the 21st century? Meanwhile, the pool wasn’t getting much use but we were constantly refilling it at a time when California was in a semi-drought. If we filled it in we’d have room to expand the little bedroom we inhabited. We could put in a nice, roomy master suite.
With attention to detail we mapped out a new house plan last spring and started work in late summer. It was disturbing and surreal to see the pool go away. It was a burial in every sense of the word. Each day a crew came and added and compacted more dirt. Watching the process I felt my stomach clench and tears burned in my eyes.
There would be no swim diapers, no cannonballs from the diving board (now gone). No laughter coming from the backyard. I knew, intellectually, while the pool still existed we wouldn’t have any children to share it with, but seeing it go away before my very eyes brought the reality home in a visceral way. I’m glad it’s now gone entirely, buried along with my dreams.
We’re now two-thirds through the project and in a weird sort of way I feel pregnant with anticipation. The dry wall went in earlier this week and the rough plumbing is done. I can walk into the new rooms without any flooring and imagine myself with new dreams — no longer haunted by the old ones.
The due date is February 1 — just under two months to go…