A/N: I was just thinking about what Cuddy might have gone through after her unsuccessful attempts to get pregnant. And now we also know she's given up on the idea. So this is my attempt to explain how she's got to where she's at now. I'm also experimenting with a slightly different writing style, so let me know what you think. Oh, and I don't know if she has a sister. I made it up.
Lisa Cuddy sits at her desk wondering whether to go home or start on the next file sitting in her in-tray. It is six-thirty, and she mentally reviews the spartan contents of her refrigerator at home. She could probably pull together her standby meal of pasta and frozen vegetables, maybe throw in a tin of tuna for a change. She could have a glass wine, maybe two.
She tries to remember what is on TV that night, unable to recall if there's anything she wants to watch. It doesn't matter anyway, recently she's been finding television boring and unfulfilling, too restless to sit still for the length of a program, wandering away to do some small chore, coming back only to find she no longer understands the plot.
A deep sigh escapes from her, not so much sadness, more discontent, uncertainty. Not for the first time she wonders to herself how life has managed to turn out this way.
In her twenties, there'd been a few guys, no one serious. All her friends and family had said to be patient, just get on with life, do things you enjoy doing, it will happen when you least expect it.
So that's exactly what she'd done. Applied herself seriously to her studies, to her work, finding that she was both talented and ambitious – a useful combination. So while she was getting on with life, suddenly here she was, nearly forty and she'd been trying to 'least expect it' for a long time. It still hadn't happened.
She decides the problem is that when there's no one special in your life, you find other ways to fill it: friends, family, volunteering, work, work, work. Then before you know it, there's no room in your life for anything else.
There'd been someone. She thought he was it; she was wrong.
Not long after him it had started. The aching. A physical pull when she saw mothers with their babies. She watched her sister have one, two then three daughters. She remembered holding the middle baby after her birth and literally feeling the pull in her uterus, like a contraction, the muscles closing around emptiness.
It was primal, like hunger, impossible to explain to someone who hadn't experienced it. Not that she was likely to kidnap a baby from the maternity ward, but there was need in her body.
Then last year she'd tried IVF. She knew at some, deep level her reasoning was no more sophisticated than if I can't find someone to love me then I'll make one. Because a child had to love its mother right? And of course there was the incessant need:
The first time it didn't take, just misery when the blood came. A second time, and again no luck. But she used her medical knowledge to keep her faith, it often took three or more cycles until a successful pregnancy. (Her medical knowledge also told her that there were many women who did countless cycles and never achieved success.)
The third time, joy, shortly followed by hollow, brittle agony when she couldn't hang on to it.
She decided it was time to give up. Her obstetrician told her to be patient, to try again. But failure of any kind didn't sit easily with her. She wasn't the kind of person who failed. Even back to high school, if it looked like she might not succeed at something she'd get out of it somehow rather than try and see what happened. Being naturally talented at so many things meant she'd managed it pretty easily.
Pretending it had never happened seemed to be the best way to proceed. Besides, only one other person knew and he was too wrapped up in himself to think to ask. She'd simply stopped asking him to help her and they'd never spoken of it again.
Coming out of her reverie, she reaches for her purse and pulls out the paper bag containing her new pill prescription, just picked up that afternoon from the pharmacy. This is the third prescription she's had filled since her final IVF cycle, and with four months' supply in each box that means she's heading towards a year since giving up her ideas of motherhood.
Another year slips by.
She opens the box and extracts one of the rectangular wheel of pills, color-coded and named with days of the week. The packaging design has changed since her last prescription, she notes absently.
There were many benefits to the contraceptive pill. She tried to list as many as she could think of.
One: well, predictability was the most important to her. Like clockwork on Monday afternoon, maybe evening. It made life easy, among other things, she knew which lingerie to pick.
Two: no PMS. Actually, maybe that should be number one. Her body when she'd been trying to conceive, aggravated by fertility meds, had been insane. It had tricked her: nausea, vomiting and dizziness just proving hideous symptoms of her body's ritual cleansing, not its attempt to accommodate new life. Now there were no hormonal hijacks, no crying over kids in the cancer ward, none of the tell-tale signs that someone had once noted.
Three: in some ways it could make the weeks go faster. She could look at her pill packet in the morning, facing a bad day at work, and think in just two more pills it will be Friday. For some reason she found the thought comforting, bracing.
Four: finally, there was the fact that they stopped her from falling pregnant. Ha! Not that she needed the pills for that. She'd also have to be engaging in some form of sexual encounter to make it a risk, but life hadn't sent of that her way recently.
As she considers the little colored pills, the lyrics of Jefferson Airplane's song White Rabbit spring to her mind and she smiles wryly at herself, at the weird leaps of logic in her brain.
pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Back in the old days they'd used rabbits to test for pregnancy. 'The rabbit died' was a common way to break the news. She knows those hippies in Jefferson Airplane were talking about very different kind of pills, but still, the coincidence was there.
She realises that since giving up on trying to get pregnant she has actually changed her mind about the whole baby thing. She wonders whether the change of mind is a response to the situation or whether it would have happened anyway. But she no longer feels those pangs of longing. She can, in fact, watch breastfeeding and only marvel that the baby doesn't suffocate.
Lying in bed on Sunday morning, alone, yes, but with a pot of tea and her favourite book, life seems simple. She doesn't want to have to get up at five to make mushy cereal and listen to the blare of cartoons. She likes the fact that her kitchen is clean and her house tidy and that it stays that way. If she wants to, she can go to a friend's place on a minute's notice and drink a whole bottle of wine and catch a cab home. Her work day is so busy she can't imagine how she would manage on a broken night's sleep.
People always joke that no one says, 'I wish I'd worked harder' on their deathbed. Making the assumption that work is somehow less valuable, less precious than other aspects of life. What was so wrong with work?, she thinks. She's saved lives, mended broken bodies, healed disease.
She loves her work. She just never thought it would have to be everything.
Lisa Cuddy turns off her computer, picks up her purse and heads for home. Two glasses of wine tonight, she decides.