The one period of my life and one area of emotion I've thus steadfastly avoided writing about is my Miscarriage Era. It's time to rip the band aid off of that wound, so I'm going to write a bit more about my quest for a baby over the next few weeks. (Damn NaBloPoMo!) So here's a refresher and some background:
Fertility is the ability of people or animals to produce healthy offspring in abundance, and of the earth to bear fruit. In the English language, the term was originally applied only to females, but increasingly is applied to males as well, as common understanding of reproductive mechanisms increases and the importance of the male role is better known. The opposite of fertility is infertility.
In the past, on this blog, I have alluded to the fact that T and I did not have an easy time of it when we were trying to make a baby. I had many miscarriages. D&Cs were necessary. I had painful and invasive tests.
I'm not really sure how to describe my feelings during the Trying To Have A Baby time period. I was depressed, yes. But I was also scared. Scared to death that I would never have the one thing I hadn't really realized I wanted until it was perhaps too late. Scared that my husband would blame me. Even more scared that it really was my fault. Every time I got pregnant, we would wait for the other shoe to drop and the pregnancy to end. All the coping mechanisms in the world couldn't help me through that.
The problems we were having were made more difficult because we couldn't really talk about them. Well, some very good friends understood that I needed someone to listen, be there for me, and not act like my life was exactly the same as it had always been. But I can't even count those friends on one hand. Most people who knew (and many did not), simply ignored the problem. Pretended I'd never been pregnant, pretended we'd never lost anything. Unfortunately there were also people who felt the need to talk about it and who made me feel worse.
Don't get me wrong, I truly believe that anyone who has ever spoken to me about my lost pregnancies was very well intentioned. But I'm sure you can understand how frustrating it is, having experienced so many losses, to hear even well intentioned people attempt to console us by saying, "if you just relax it will happen," or, my personal favorite, "at least it wasn't a real baby yet." As if that made our loss less real as well.
We were incredibly lucky. In January of 2004, I got pregnant again. (That's a story for another post!) Once again, my beta was low, my progesterone was horrible, and I could tell by the look on my doctor's face that he thought we were going to lose another one. But he smiled bravely, and I smiled cautiously back, playing the role of the optimistic
When we saw the heartbeat at 7 weeks, we cautiously informed close family. At 13 weeks, we told the world, but I still couldn't get excited. At 20 weeks, my tests came back with an extremely increased risk of Down Syndrome. When the amnio results came back a week later - a normal baby boy - I cried. And then I finally bought something for the baby. For Hollis.
I can't even tell you how much Hollis has changed my life or how lucky and special and blessed I feel to have him. And when Hollis was 5 1/2 months old, we discovered that I was pregnant again. Although the first words out of my husbands mouth were "Oh, fuck," when we had a moment to get over the shock, we were thrilled. But still, I waited for the other shoe to drop. I felt as if I'd snuck a pregnancy in and someone or something was going to take it away. Despite all of my paranoia, in January of 2006, Holden joined our family, turned our lives upside down again, and made us feel doubly blessed.
After what we've been through, you'd think that I would just know what to say to a woman who has been dubbed infertile. But I don't. A couple we know has been trying for many years to have a baby. They've undergone IVF, miscarriages, and several late term pregnancy losses, including the loss of one set of twins. But B, the woman of the pair, has always been optimistic. (Part of it is her personality. She's always bubbly and welcoming, the kind of person you really want to know.) Well, they had one frozen egg left and they were going to try one last time. Even knowing the odds for a frozen IVF cycle, I couldn't help but be convinced by her optimism. But just before Christmas, we heard that their cycle was unsuccessful. No baby.
Attending their annual Christmas party, I couldn't help but notice that B looked like a caricature of herself. B with a smiley party mask on her face. Her smile was a bit forced, her laugh brittle, and I could tell that she was hurting. Stupidly, we brought our boys to the party. We were told they were welcome, but I should have known better. I felt as if I was parading my fertility under her nose while she was stuck with, well, the opposite.
Due to the large crowd and two very fast and small boys, I didn't have a chance to simply walk up to the hostess and bring up such a festive subject. But when I went to say good bye and thank her for the party, I saw the mask drop. Another (very pregnant) friend was giving her a hug and I saw all the naked pain on her face and the tears in her eyes just for a moment. And then the mask was back.
So I still haven't said anything to B. I still haven't called her up and told her how sorry I am or had her over for dinner and a chat. I have no idea why, despite how horrible it made me feel when people simply ignored my pain, I can't simply say something. It's as if some part of me thinks that she won't want condolences from me, mother of an "accident" and his older brother. I know that's not the case, however, and seeing my thoughts here in writing has made me realize that. I just hope it's not to late to tell her how sorry I am for her loss, her very real loss.
Follow up: I think my friend is now, if not OK, accepting how things are. And yes, I have told her how sorry I am. Oh, and that is actually an ultrasound of Holden, not Hollis. I didn't have one of Hollis scanned in and I really like the 4-D picture of Holden. It looks just like him now!