Remember this post? Last week, Miyumi, the friend that I talk to more often, the one that grew up in Japan, and is exceedingly polite and avoids all conflict, called me and apologized profusely about that dinner. She said she was horribly uncomfortable during the whole meal and her meek comment about how hard the Alice's life was going to be "with three" was her lame, ineffective but polite, Japanese attempt to lead Alice to talk about her pregnancy. She had been sure that Alice had told me that she was about to give birth again, since Alce was the one that invited me to the dinner, and supposedly "caught up" with me at that time. But Miyumi realized early on in the meal that this was not the case. That I didn't have a frigging clue.
I really felt so much better that someone else had thought it horribly weird that Alice's pregnancy was never discussed. Miyumi knows I can handle other people's pregnancies, people get pregnant all the time, but that it's kind of nice to know in advance, so as to mentally prepare. She also understood that not talking about somebody else's pregnancy is alienating to the infertile one. She remembered, very thoughtfully, that Alice's second child was born when my first miscarriage was due. I thanked her profusely for saying something. It's one of the reasons that she has remained my friend. She gets it.
But just when that became then I got unexpectedly bowled over by some other news. A friend of my husband's wife is pregnant. We don't really do stuff with them as a couple, although we have once or twice. She miscarried last spring, and we both realized that we probably hadn't heard from them these last seven or eight months because she was pregnant again. So I knew this was coming. I thought I would be fine.
Let me give you little history. This couple had their first baby when the wife was 40. The baby had some very rare and complicated health problems that have led to major surgery structural surgery on the bones in his head. The most recent report is that the boy has lost some hearing , and is currently, at almost three, significantly speech delayed. As mentioned this woman had a miscarriage last year at ten or eleven weeks. She had another miscarriage before the birth of her first child. Life has not been easy and she deserves every happiness, and certainly a healthy baby (as we all do.)
I am not that keen on the wife. She is intelligent and articulate, but very uptight. Her house always must be spotless, everything is organized to the nth degree. She bought a new house when she was about five weeks pregnant last spring, and unfortunately lost that pregnancy, but still had a big ol' house. Interestingly, she bought that house without her husband ever seeing it. I know men that are pu--y whipped secretly want someone like that to run their lives, but it doesn't make the whipper any more attractive to the outside world. The woman has her husband on an incredibly tight leash, more like a choke chain, really. The poor man gets about an hour of "free time" allocated to him weekly. He always has to ask for the wife's permission for any recreational activities. And when I use the word permission, I don't mean he needs to check in to see if he has any other obligations, but rather he needs to get leave from his supervising officer. I actually heard his wife say before the first baby was born, that he couldn't "just go to baseball games anymore," that he would have to stay home most of the time for the baby. This couple gets free tickets to the games because her Dad works for the team, but I don't think he went to any baseball games that first year after his son was born.
Her husband is a huge flirt, so she is eternally suspicious of his activities. To the best of my knowledge he has never strayed in the thirteen years they've been together. But consequently, she doesn't like me much, because he flirts with me, too. As though that's my fault.
All of the above is neither here nor there. The wife is not evil, and certainly has not had things come easily.
So why, oh why, did I feel gut punched when I heard that she was due, with a baby girl, at the end of next month? A few minutes after my husband shared this news, I checked our home voice mail and there was a message from the husband. "Hi it's Bob, Mary, Aidan, and soon to be baby Emily!" Fuck. That was even worse. So happy, so hopeful, so optimistic.
It's so little and petty to feel the way I do. I know I have been extraordinarily lucky in having a child at all. The fact that he is healthy and intelligent and well-adjusted is a gift that so many parents wish for.
And yet I am so jealous. So jealous it makes me want to cry. I know her exact age because she has the same birthday as my husband, but she's older. She will be 43 and 8 months at the end of May, when she is due.
I can see that I'm an ungrateful wretch. And it feels wretched to be one.
What feels even worse, is that when I mentioned it to my best friend, I was being even more wretched, because she just turned forty-five, was unable to get pregnant in her forties (she married at 39), does not own a home, and does not have the money to adopt. She's a wonderful human being, and despite her situation has been a very good friend to me through my miscarriages. She is an amazing person, but even she can only take so much. She said to me, "Well, some people might just want to have what you have."
"Sorry. I am so sorry" I said. Because she is fantastic, she genuinely accepted my apology. And I was appreciative of the reminder that my pain can appear very selfish, and I told her that. You have to be able to count on your friends for that kind of thing, because someone who didn't care about me would have just gone off and bitched in their blog about what an insensitive cad I am.
I have friends that have no husband or partner despite only wishing for that. I have friends that cannot afford to buy their own homes, and may never be able to do so. I know a woman who only wanted just one child, and lost that baby at term. (I think she may be pregnant again, but I don't think she wants to tell anyone until that baby is nine and a half months old.) All they want is that one thing, and for right now, they can't have it.
So am I really selfish and greedy? Well, yeah. But I do appreciate what I have. Every day, all the time, I feel lucky. But when that miscarriage scab gets ripped off, it's the same old pain all over again. And it never feels finished. A lot of people have said to me, "I hope you can find some resolution in your struggle with miscarriages and infertility." Like there is a place that exists where I'll be grateful to never have had another child. Like the fact that I had one foot in the door to having a second baby so many times, only to have the door shut in my face, will feel like the path I always wanted.
I have started to realize that there is no resolution. There will never be a day that I fully embrace never having had another child. And that trying to get over it, is like trying to get to the end of a road that goes on and on. I don't believe it will work. I think the key is just accepting the pain will never go away, completely, it will just get smaller in the rear view mirror.