Sometimes, just when you think you have life all figured out, it throws you a curve ball.
This weekend we went to a friends’ child’s third birthday party. We rarely see them and were happy to have a few moments to catch up. These are actually Mi.Vida’s friends so he spent a lot of time talking with the father while I chased Isa around, trying to keep her cute spring dress and pink shoes in tact.
After we left Mi.Vida told me that they were pregnant. This surprised me because I remember last year the mom saying that because she was just starting a new job they would have to wait for a few years before adding to their family. Their kids would probably be four or five years apart but there wasn’t much she could do because as a lawyer, she had to be available in those first years with her new firm.
As I did the math I realized the timing actually did work out, as their son just turned three so by the time their next child was born it would be almost a four year gap. I thought, wow, they probably got pregnant on the first try, just like last time. Literally as I was forming this though, Mi.Vida added that they’d been trying for a year and a half and had suffered a loss during that time.
I was caught so off guard by that. I was just so surprised. They got pregnant the very first month of trying the first time, I know this because they complained a few times about it, as they had been told it would take longer and weren’t feeling quite ready since it happened so fast. The fact that the second time around they struggled so long and hard shocked me. As I let it sink I realized that they must have been trying when she made that comment to me, the one about having to wait because of her job. I wondered why she said that then. Maybe because her kid was two and she had been fielding questions about when they would have another. Did she want to head me off at the pass? Assure herself that at least this family wouldn’t be asking her when they might have another kid? (I hadn’t by the way, she had just offered the information).
It was so strange to process this new information, to move this family from one category in my mind to another. Now, they are no longer one of the families that has it so easy. Now they are one of the families who has suffered for to have the children they want. I have to admit, it changes the way I think of them.
I also have to admit, after it all sunk in, I started feeling the fear. We’re so close to trying again–when my period shows up this week it will officially be our first CD1 of TTC#2–and I’m starting to feel anxious and worried, overwhelmed by what could go wrong. Hearing a story like this is hard for me right now. I know it’s not about me. I know their story has nothing to do with my own. But a reminder like this, of what can happen, of what DOES happen even to people who have it easy the first time, well it’s just a difficult reminder.
Mi.Vida was frustrated. The way he saw it, I could never be happy. If people have it easy I feel frustrated and envious. If the have it hard I feel scared and anxious. Basically there is no TTC story that doesn’t effect me negatively.
Of course, he doesn’t want the alternative. He doesn’t want, and would never expect, me to celebrate in the face of others’ struggle. Just because someone’s easy experience makes me feel frustrated or upset doesn’t mean the inverse is true; I am not gleeful upon hearing my friends’ troubling news. In fact I felt incredible grief for what they endured.
I will admit though, as I grieved for them I also breathed a sharp sigh of relief. I felt relief that I am not the only one who has struggled, that we are not the lone couple that argued over when to start to start trying, that suffered a loss and not being able to get pregnant. We’re not the only couple of our friends who didn’t enjoy the perfect family building experience. There is something about not being the only ones that brings me relief. And I feel horrible feeling that way. It’s not that I want anyone else to suffer, it’s not that I want people I know and love to have to go through this, but knowing I’m not the only one of our friends who has walked this path, it just brings me a strange sense of solace. I hope that doesn’t make me an awful person, but I understand if it does.
Later Mi.Vida was telling me about a comedian he loves who was interviewed on a podcast he enjoys. Evidently he and his wife also had troubling conceiving their second and eventually adopted. I have to admit, two stories of secondary infertility a week before we start trying again has me spooked. I’m decidedly less sure of the choices we made to wait, to get ready for our second attempt with diet changes and acupuncture. I wonder if I’ve made a huge mistake. I wonder if I’ll regret the path we chose.
Of course there is nothing to do to change it. We waited and now all we can do is suffer the consequences–whatever they may or may not be.