An odd dream last night. The frame story was that a group of us had kidnapped some criminals and were hauling them to a prison to perform some charity that I believe we explained in some detail in the dream, but I don’t remember now, after which we would release them.
It was a long trip halfway across the country with many fraught stops on the way where we had to carefully guard our prisoners. During one night, we stayed at a camp and during the evening I was called over to help some children who had been magically shrunk. Apparently for this part of the dream, I had some magic I could use to fix this (although I obviously didn’t have magic during most of the dream, because subduing and maintaining the cooperation of the prisoners would have been much easier if I had). So I grew them a bit, so they could talk to me more easily. One of them expressed concern about her pregnancy. I assured her that the baby would be fine. I then asked how old she was so I could return her to the proper size. She said she was 9.
9? I told her she’d do better to let me return her to proper size without the baby. “What is wrong with you? How can you teach this child anything? You’ll be in high school at the same time?”
The person who had brought me over to help gave me a look, “Alright, maybe not high school, but how can you give this baby a good life when you’re just a child yourself?”
She insisted she wanted to keep the baby and I resized her appropriately, still muttering that the best help I could give her would be to eliminate the baby at the same time. After the girls were magicked back to themselves, I explained (repeatedly) that I didn’t hurt the baby. If she wanted to carry the baby, I wouldn’t go against her wishes.
She interrupted me to tell me that she knew that, in a horrible smug pregnant voice. You know the one, that “Earth mother full of serenity and calmness,” voice.
I walked away saying, “I’ve been infertile longer than she’s been alive. Something not right there.”
A friend of mine who is pregnant with her second child said goodbye to her first child on Saturday. The child would have been a year old this week. There are so many ways in which I’m extremely fortunate, and I take for granted sometimes the big things that don’t seem like big things: that I wake up every morning, that I have a stable relationship, that my child is alive and living in a stable family with a home that she’s lived in since birth. These are not small blessings, they’re huge and I never even see them. They’re the air I breathe.
Last time someone close to me went into labor, she called me towards the end to help her calm down and recenter. Today, I only have to see mass labor update texts (and to be honest, not too too many of them.) So as this pregnancy period draws to a close, I close the book another full term pregnancy during which I did not get pregnant.
I mentioned before that my doctor thought I might have arthritis. I don’t. I’ve been rehabing my knee. The muscles around the patella are weak, which has caused the patella to shift out of place. The exercises have been working. My range of motion has improved and the strength of my knee has as well. I’m going to continue with PT for a bit longer.
I’m thinking today of a little girl, about 6 months old, whose grandmother is dying. I’m thinking of the years her parents struggled waiting to be blessed with a child. The treatments they went through, the money they spent, the time they wasted.
Time their child can never get back. I understand the argument that things happen in G-d’s time. I understand the idea that any previous child wouldn’t have been this child specifically; it would have been a different child.
But do you know what I understand the most? I understand that this child may never remember hearing her grandmother laugh. Or being held by her. Or any of a thousand precious moments that will never happen because they were lost to the disease of infertility.
I do try to focus on the positives, even in this. I try to hold fast to the knowledge that this grandmother at least got to meet her granddaughter. In my heart, I also hold the memories of grandfathers who never got to meet their grandchildren because they died before their infertile children were blessed. I can’t walk away from these images. They haunt me. All those lost moments and opportunities. I see them so close and yet, they can never happen.
We stand in the world of reality. But sometimes, I wish we could live in those beautiful illusions with our loved one. Where grandmothers watch first steps, quinceneras, confirmations, Baptisms, Bat Mitzvahs, wedding, great-grandchildren. Where grandfathers hug their grandsons for the first time and know that finally, those long-time prayers were answered. A promise fulfilled, “because a child is born to us, a son is given to us…” (Isaiah 9:6)
This is obviously not going to be one of my better days. A few years ago, I joked that this was one holiday I’ve never been pregnant on. (Not the only one, I might add, but definitely one.) That’s still true and it always echoes in my mind.
I was planning to resume my binge watching of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, when I got to the part where Keiko’s baby ends up in Narys’ body. That merited a quick drop-out of that idea. That coupled with a lot of uncertainty in my extended family right now made for an excellent time to rewatch 50 First Dates while working, instead of DS9. At least crying through that movie, as I do every time I watch it, made sense.
And while she gets her Happily Ever After with the requisite life and child, her child is on screen for 20 seconds at the end of the movie, so it’s okay. Keiko’s baby is going to be a boy. I wish.
If a second pregnancy is, as my cousin described it, the empty house waiting to be filled again, then it is entirely reasonable that I should feel like this, like I’m an empty pit. Possibly filled with snakes or scorpions. But no water; no life.
It’s little moments. Little pangs that reveal how barren the barren woman feels. The cheery text with a picture of a newborn baby smiling. The reminders that the pregnant woman needs to be careful, because it’s icy out there and you don’t want to fall. Complaints about how hard it is being sick and being pregnant. Little pinpricks of pain for those experiences that I won’t be having.
I feel compelled when I talk like this to try to focus on the good in my life; lest people think I forget that there is good in my life. If my life were unrelieved pain, maybe I wouldn’t feel those little pricks so acutely.
My heart sank a little when I saw that yet another friend had changed her facebook picture to a pregnancy photo. I try not to be upset to watch my friends (and family) moving through this stage. I try to be okay with knowing that I won’t have that.
I wonder if I would use a pregnancy picture now, if I did get pregnant. 1000 times I would have said no, and even would have pointed to my past virtuous not having used a pregnancy or ultrasound picture as proof. But now, feeling the pangs of longing, looking at theirs, I wonder if I would continue to prefer a more low key approach, or if I would want to shout to the world, “Look world. I did it. I’m pregnant. I’m having a baby. I’m having a baby. I’m having a baby! Me! I’m having a baby!”
But that’s all academic. I’m not pregnant. I’m not having a baby. I’m just watching other people showing me that they are all of those things that I’m not.