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The Baby Chase - Part I
I'm recycling this post I originally published on January 12, 2007 under the title "The Opposite of Fertility is Infertility." Casey recently wrote about her issues with infertility and I've been following DD's trials and tribulations closely, afraid to breathe the wrong way or whisper any hope for her in fear of jinxing her.

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.
- Wikipedia

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 mother-to-be patient.

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!

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Blogger UNC-Professor said...

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Blogger Mieke said...

I think you should call her or write her a note. She may not want to talk to you but she'll appreciate the opportunity you provided. She knows about your struggles too right?

Regardless, she will hear the compassion in your voice. You wrote about her experience so beautifully, she couldn't miss it.

Blogger Joker The Lurcher said...

i had a miscarriage before my son was born. i remember the whole thing only too well, even now. the things people said were quite amazing in their insensitivity. one friend said " well at least it shows you can conceive". ironically, this friend later turned out to be unable to conceive and even after a load of ivf did not. our doctor was lovely. he came to see me in bed (on the advice of a very good friend i stayed at home while it happened and was very glad i did). when i said that i couldn't understand why i was so grief-stricken, as it was not very far into the pregnancy (12 weeks) he said that we had lost all our hopes and dreams for our child, not a bundle of cells.

i make a point of discussing things like this as i remember how many friends told me that they too had experienced miscarriages yet i would never have known had it not happened to me. somehow people keep it a secret, so we all feel even more alone in the middle of it all.

i found out i was pregnant with my son the week the first baby would have been born. not only did this take quite a bit of the sting out of it, but also i know that we would not have him had that baby gone to term. and he is very special in millions of ways.

does your friend read blogs? why not e-mail her a link? you couldn't put it better than you have.

Blogger Rachel Emma said...

You wrote that beautifully maybe you should show her what you wrote. I've never had a miscarriage or ever been pregnant, but it's something that i'm longing to do i know i'm only 20 but i've always wanted to be a mum. I am really worried that i will be infertile after my chemotherapy treatment even though they haven't said i will be in fact they haven't said anything i guess because i'm so young. It would break my heart to find out i couldn't have children or have a miscarriage.

I'm very sorry for your losses and they are losses because there your babies no matter how small they are! When i was diagnosed with cancer i was only 15 and i lost all my best friends and school friends because they didn't know how to react or know what to say so we all lost contact because i had left school. It hurt that no one said anything but lately one of my friends had a problem i also didn't know how to react its something inside us which leaves us blank. It's not that we don't care but we just don't know which words are going to be comforting and which will be distressing.

I'm glad i found your blog and thank you for veiwing mine!

Take Care,
Rachel Emma

Blogger Gunfighter said...

We had a few miscarriages before O was born.

I am ashamed to say that I didn't know how to comfort Mrs Gunfighter. I still don't know what to say to someone when I hear about a miscarriage. I think that people don't, which is why so many of them just try to ignore it and pretend that nothing is wrong.

Blogger Pendullum said...

A very insightful post...
And you have reached a nerve as my brother and his wife just lost their baby she was carrying at three months...
I would wait for a moment to talk with her...I do not think a letter would do it... Too clinical and that is what she has been through in some regards and as you point out so eloquantly, so isolating.... It is a rough journey that you have been on and a rough one for her...and sometimes what you really need is someone to hear your pain and hug you... No letter can give you that...
But a friend can.... and to know that she is not alone...and it is okay to cry...

Blogger ewe are here said...

I've had a number of friends struggle with pregnancy-related issues such as these. I posted about such struggles, and one particular friend's difficulties in particular, just last month. We're still waiting for her test results.... And another friend is currently trying to determine if she's still pg or not!

My only thought here is: it's not too late. Call her. Or write her. Tell her you'd love to schedule a date to get together. I'm sure she and her husband are having a tough time adjusting to the fact that their last try failed and what this means for them, but I'm also sure she'd rather her friends didn't just quietly disappear out of fear of offending her or saying the wrong thing.

Good luck!

Blogger bubandpie said...

You're right - it's so hard to say anything, knowing how easy it is to say the wrong thing. It's just horrifing, really, the amount of pain that is out there, and not being talked about.

Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

You said that brilliantly. Beautifully. She'll get it.

Blogger Sarcasta-mom said...

What a hard situation. Everyone is so different in what they need when going through something like this, that is makes it hard to know what to say, what to do.

I had a friend who miscarried after wanting a baby really badly. She ended up isolating herself. It seemed the more we reached out to her, the more she withdrew.

The situation was hard for all of us who cared about her. Just reach out to your friend and let her know you're there, and you have expereince with what she's going through. Mieke's suggestion of a card or note is always a nice gesture as well. Good luck.

Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

I have to agree with the others, if this woman is as wonderful as you say she is I believe she will welcome the chance to talk with someone who has been through a similar situation. Given the circumstances she's probably been keeping it wrapped up in a little ball. A person can only hold on to that pain for so long before they have to let it out. Call her.

Blogger ExPatSW said...

I went through the same thing with D&D. At the time, I didn't know what to say to either of them and felt very guilty that getting pregnant with C was so easy. Because I felt so inadequate through their fertility issues, I didn't say anything to anyone when I miscarried (years later).

Send her what you wrote. It was beautiful and your empathy comes through loud and clear. Nothing you say will lessen the pain for her. Unfortunately, that's something she will have to cope with pretty much on her own. But, in time, she will be able to derive some comfort from knowing that you understand, if not share, her pain.

Blogger Justice Jones said...

I concur with the rest of the ladies. A nice note is one way to open the door. That way, if she is comfortable enough to discuss it, she will. One thing to keep in mind is that different people handle things differently. Some women want to hear words of comfort, some women never want to discuss it. I had a friend who lost a baby in her 8th week. She e-mailed everyone she told, and it was a lot of people, explained what happened, and asked everyone never to bring it up again. Now, two children later, she mentions it from time to time. They say time heals all wounds, in her case, I think it did.

What an insightful post. I never dreamed in a million years I would not have my own "birth" children. Of course I was not one of those girls growing up who dreamnt about having babies. But when my dh and I decided it was time to start our family (I was 42 and he 32) we were unable to conceive. Inconclusive. Talk about stunned. We decided that it was just meant to be. But, I knew something was still missing so I started exploring adoption. Amazingly we were matched with nine month old twin daughter's from China last March. Although I am thrilled to finally be a mother(at 45) I went through a period where the sight of a pregnant woman would bring me to tears. I was still sad that I had not experienced pregnancy.

Acknowledge your friend's loss. It will mean so much to her.


p.s. great post!

Blogger Mom101 said...

Your honesty is wonderful. Condolences of any kind are hard, and especially one for something so very personal and unspoken. Kudos for following up with her - and for sharing this with us. Amazing what joys we often have to show for our pains.

Blogger Magpie said...

I had no idea - you too, huh?

I developed a sort of ESP through the whole IF thing...and I've gotten bold about speaking up, and about telling people about our IVFs. I'm generally shy and withholding of personal information, but I've grown to feel like more talk about IF is necessary - for the education of the world.

Blogger Lady M said...

Having said many wrong things and not said anything at all at other times, I appreciate this post and how you expressed your thoughts.

Blogger CountryDew said...

Infertility is a difficult issues. It's like mental illness - something to whisper about and feel guilty about and worry about and you have to do it all with very little support. At least that is how it was for me, anyway. Sounds like you're handling things with yourself and your friends as best you can and that's all anyone can really ask. I am sorry for your losses.

Blogger DD said...

What I really appreciated about this post, and many of the comments, is that many IF bloggers believe that "Mommy Bloggers" are Super Fertiles because hardly anyone discusses it unless they went from IF to parenthood.

Blogging about parenting doesn't just mean to the children in our lives; it can also mean about the children who might have been. For me, even, there are some in the IF world who will never consider me "infertile" because I have a son. It doesn't matter that I've had 4 miscarriages; that I've had 5 IUIs and 2 IVFs...

Blogger Mad Hatter said...

What a moving post. My sister struggled with infertility for years and only had children after many invasive procedures. Her kids are teens now and her struggles with infertility were eventually eclipsed by even darker pains but I still think back to her pain, moods, and silence and feel a tear inside me about it all.

Blogger Michele said...

I just recently had a miscarriage and know how awful it can be. I'm so glad you were able to talk to your friend.

Blogger CPA Mom said...

I have no idea what to say. Bravo to you, so brave to put this "down on paper." To put yourself out there in this way. BRAVO

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