Sunday, 18 August 2013

Eyes on the Prize

This past week Risa, at Who Shot Down My Stork? has featured some guest bloggers who wrote two excellent posts about their experiences with multiple miscarriages.  Although, I only have one to my credit, I noted that no one outside of the ALI (Adoption, Loss, Infertility) community has any appreciation for what the experience means to you. Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. I endured my RE, my colleagues, Co-worker and Myrtle all tell me, 'well, at least you can get pregnant'. It's the shittiest consolation prize in the world. I was too numb to absorb it at the time, but now I want to scream, 'do you have any idea how hard it was to become pregnant? and it doesn't mean it's likely to happen again?' Those same people including myself also noted that I was 'fortunate' as it happened so early. Perhaps, but it doesn't change the end result.

I know it's hard to search for the right words to say in a tough situation, and it's only when you've been on both sides can you realise how some innocuous phrases can be difficult to process. When I told Myrtle about my miscarriage, she offered apologies and condolences multiple times, but ended the conversation with "get pregnant again soon, little Myrtlepants needs a playmate." Sheesh, because we need to think about how this affects you. A week later, I received a bouquet of flowers from her. The card simply read; Love Myrtle, Mr Myrtle and Little Myrtle. I presumed they were sent in sympathy for my miscarriage. I would later learn that they were just a 'Holiday Bouquet', as she send the same ones to my parents.

I'm not one who fishes for compliments or tries to draw attention to myself. I never announce when my birthday is coming up, as I prefer to allow the day to pass without anyone noticing. However, I mentioned to my colleagues that on what would have been my due date, I'll be the only one in the office as everyone else is on vacation. Co-worker knew when my would be due date was, as it was four days before hers. I mentioned 'August 5th' twice to Myrtle. Yet no one reached out to me around that time. Even Husband forgot what the actual projected date was.

When Myrtle announced her pregnancy, I send her a congratulatory card, as well as a Mother's Day card for an expecting mother, another card after little Myrtle's birth,  one for her Christening and I sent Mother's Day and Father's Day cards to them. Had my pregnancy progressed, I know she would have done the same for me. Yet, it didn't. Is it too much to ask for a simple text that offers a message of 'hey, I know this is a difficult day. Thinking of you'? I have often described that self confidence is achieved when you don't need validation from others. However, in this situation, it would be nice to know someone else is acknowledging your pain. Thus, you don't feel so alone as if you're grieving an abstract concept.

Leading up to 5 August 2013, I was dreading the day. Not that I would have been in the 5% of patients who deliver on their actual due date. It could have been a day that changed our life as we know it. Instead it was just another day at the office, and to the outside world, it was as if my miscarriage never happened. While consoling me, my RE informed me, "when you're thirty weeks pregnant, it will all be a distant memory." Perhaps. Even if I don't ever get to be 30 minutes pregnant, I know the memories will fade, but I'll always feel disappointed. I will always feel that an opportunity was taken away from me. However 6 August was supposed to be liberating. No longer would I be confronted by pregnant women and feel reminded of what could have been. 6 August was meant to be the first day moving forward after finally closing the chapter on my failed pregnancy.

I like to think that I am moving forward, but I'm still carrying a few heavy emotions. I may be free from baby bump ghosts, but I'm still left without a baby. My parents recently shared their plans to go to a Bed and Breakfast in upstate New York to celebrate their 39th wedding anniversary. I remembered thinking that they could have been on the west coast celebrating while holding their new grandchild. Then we received an invitation from my cousin to attend her 'oops!' baby's first birthday party. I have a lot of unfair and misplaced resentment to this cousin. I had just started Clomid when at the age of 41 she announced her spontaneous conception after a prior experience with infertility. I was filled with a false sense of entitlement, this is supposed to be my news! Oh, how I look back and laugh to myself thinking I was entitled to become pregnant. As if it were mine to command. Yet, here we are celebrating the birth of her miracle baby rather than welcoming mine into the world. I know it's not her fault in any way, but it just seemed like she was besting me once again.    

Husband replied to the E-vite as a 'maybe', noting that we would be returning from the northern part of the state after running a half marathon. I thought that was enough to excuse us, but Husband was adamant that we needed to make an effort. So funny that he whines about going to my Aunt's house for Christmas dinner, but as my cousin's husband gave him some legal advice recently, he felt we were obligated to make an appearance. I thought we could get away with picking up a gift card from Safeway's gift card mall, but he also insisted we needed to bring a proper gift. We stopped into Babies 'R Us and made our selections as quick as possible. "Do you want to sign up for our rewards program?" the clerk dutifully asked "NO!" we answered in union, mentally adding we just want to get the fuck out of here!

I thought it was an odd concept to have a party for a one year old that is really catering to other children, especially as I learned that they did have a small family party with the grandparents and my other cousin and her kids who were visiting from Washington state. There was a bouncy castle for the half dozen kids who ranged from 3 to 6 years in age. The birthday boy's brother thought the gifts were for him, twin girls wore fancy dresses as if it were their party and all the kids were much more interested in the cake than the guest of honour. As their older son turns 3 in less than three weeks, I'm presuming we'll be repeating this scene in the near future. However, being surrounded by a bunch of screaming little kids was calling so much into question for me. Have I been romanticising this experience? Creating a fantasy that is better than the reality? Do I have the patience for this?

Interestingly, the parents didn't seem phased at all by the chaos. It was as if they had become immune. They sat in a circle enjoying their wine or beer, occasionally checking in to make sure that no kid was bleeding or had dislocated an arm. Naturally, they ignored Husband and me, since we didn't have our own hyperactive ball of energy to add to the mix. Then again, many of my cousin's friends were pretty douche-y even before they had kids. Toward the end of party I started getting the 'have we met?' looks. "I'm her cousin Jane" I re-introduced myself, mentally adding we've met at least ten times before at some other events. It's okay -I don't remember your name either....

At last, and to the delight of the screaming kids, it was time to cut the cake. My cousin pointed out that they selected an island design to commemorate their 'surprise souvenir' from Hawaii. Husband and I just looked at each other and telepathically rolled our eyes and gagged. We had prepared a response in the event that my cousin's husband started warning us of the island's magical fertility powers. "Um, there is this stuff called birth control..." was my ready to use retort. Husband would follow with a note that sharing a condo with your parents and in-laws is in fact the best form of birth control in the world.  Despite the irritating underlying theme of the cake, after running 13.1 miles, we felt we had earned a piece.

Oh, how was our half marathon? Well in the weeks and days leading up to it, we realised that we hadn't done any training for it, but we also couldn't get out of our hotel room reservation, so we would run it anyway. On our drive, we discussed potential times if we had trained. Husband thought he might break two hours and I projected I could get between 2:15-2:20. He finished in 1:59 something and I crossed the line at 2:13.25. Added to my resume of life: ran second best half marathon time without proper training (and didn't suffer the next day). Yeah, fertiles...this is our version of 'we weren't even trying!'  Not that you were interested ...


  1. I'm sorry no one acknowledged your due date. It's possible they just didn't know what to say. I am guilty of that. We visited my brother-in-law and his wife shortly after they had a miscarriage and it was really awkward at first. I knew I needed to acknowledge it, but wasn't sure how or if she wanted to talk about it. I am terrible in those situations and never know what to say. Even now, I don't know what to say to you except I am sorry you are going through this.

    On a lighter note, congrats on the half marathon finish!

  2. I'm sorry no one acknowledged your due date as well.

    Congrats on finishing the half marathon in a great time! I'm sure that even though you haven't been running, all of your swimming has kept you in a great shape!

  3. That really sucks. A possible observation, though: as someone who also keeps a lot to herself, I've come to learn that sometimes people can't see that you need them to acknowledge something. It's nice to think they'd do it on their own, but if they think you're doing ok then they might feel it's better not to bring it up. Or they actually DO forget about it, because you seem to have (even though of course you haven't). Not saying that this is your fault in any way, just that sometimes it's OK to ask for help and to acknowledge that no, everything is NOT fine, thank you very much.

    Kudos on the amazing half finish, without even training! That's no small feat and you should be very proud.

  4. Ironically, today would have been our original due date, had I not miscarried. I doubt my husband will remember, and I'm sure nobody else even knows or remembers at all to recognize the date. I'm sorry you've had to go through the pain of loss, and I really, really hope that you will be pregnant again soon. You do so much to help others through pregnancy, I want for you to be able to experience that yourself with the reward at the end. I admire you so much, in both what you do for a living and your training and competitions. I can't believe you both posted such incredible times without really even training! You are amazing, in SO many ways.