Last night I had dinner with some old friends, including a lovely woman who joyously announced she is now four months pregnant with her second. She is my age. She was thrilled to report that she conceived this child "very quickly" though she was girding herself for a longer fertility struggle. Thus far all scans and blood-work show a healthy, beautiful boy. I truly breathed a sigh of relief and happiness for her.
But the effect of this dinner felt profound on me last night as I went to bed. When I heard the news, I smiled and cheered along with everyone else at the table. But when I got home I felt spent, dejected. Don't get me wrong, I am not one of those people who generally believe that when one person
gets a benefit, something is taken away from me, or anyone else. I am trying to look at her pregnancy as a source of hope that women my age can and do get pregnant with healthy babies.
But I have a reason for panic, and a selfish one at that. Frankly, it is shameful.
When niblet asks why so many people have brothers and sisters, I often resort to explaining that in fact, she is not alone. Why, there's lots of only children out there. I am an only child after all. Of course, this answer doesn't please her, so the only thing that ever placates her is a list of all every other only child in her universe. My friend's son - up until yesterday - was on that list. The list is shrinking.
When I go to bed at night, I know that I can be happy with just niblet. I will never ever post her picture here, but I promise you, in my eyes there is nothing more beautiful on the planet than my daughter. But mothering isn't about me, is it, it can't be. My daughter, each and every day, asks when she can be a big sister. "When will your egg and daddy's sperm meet?" she asks (she got that from here.)
This journey, this fucking obstacle course really, it isn't just mine, it isn't "containable" - I wish it was. Sure, I often feel like miscarriage and infertility have permeated my bones, my blood, every fiber of my being. But I also got through the day knowing that I am AWESOME at internalizing things. Seriously, I can show up to work being eaten alive by fear and depression (as I did day in and out during and after each of my losses) and still be mistaken for an entirely functional human being.
But what I am so troubled by now, is that for the first time it is hitting me that I am not the only person walking this path. What a fucking narcissist I have been. Sure, my husband has been holding my hand right there with me the entire time. But now I see that I can't shield my daughter from the reality of what it means for me to be infertile. She may not ever be a sister. I have had to tell her as much, as gently as possible. But as each friend who shared a commonality gets crossed off the list, how will she process the information?
My miscarriages have often made me feel isolated. And now I am left to wonder - what about her feelings of isolation? The rational human in me is perfectly aware of the fact that we can only control so many of the external factors in our children's lives. And my daughter who has two healthy parents, and four healthy grandparents, has so much love surrounding her.
But what of the things I can't control, what of her loneliness? These are the questions of sleepless nights, my friends.