RSVP. Join us as we celebrate…. A little lady is on the way….. Bring a book. Bring diapers. Bring a joyful smile for this wonderful couple who are so deserving of this miracle. And they are.
They are deserving because they are good people. J is my hubby’s best friend and served as Best Man at our wedding. He is one of a VERY small number of people who know everything about my hubby. He is a good man and a good husband to D. D would drop everything to help you move, fold laundry or put sheets on the beds. She is thoughtful, the girl who sends you two, or three, or four birthday cards which drives you insane, but which you secretly appreciate because you know she meant to brighten your day and it does.
They are deserving because, like my hubby and I, waited until a little later in life to find one another, spent time dating and getting to know one another to build a strong and very real foundation before marrying and have both a friendship and a marriage built on real values and deep love.
They are deserving because, like me and my hubby, they tried to start a family “the old fashioned way” and yet found themselves down the same road of infertility we had been on for 3 1/2 years already. The road of failed treatment cycles and more heartache than can be counted.
Except their heartache has now evolved to Joy. Their last cycle resulted in pregnancy. Their daughter will arrive in a few weeks. Due on the hubby and my’s 5th wedding anniversary and strangely close to what would have been one of my due dates.
These people are our dear friends. They are MORE than friends. How erie it is that our journeys were so similar. 1 in 8 couples feels more like 7 in 8 couples who will suffer from infertility when I consider the odds of our situation.
D and I discussed more than once how the reason for all of the heartache MUST have been so that we could raise our children together. That the 3+ years my hubby and I had already spent trying with no success was so that they could catch up with us in marriage and having children. Even while deep in the trenches of the War on Infertility did either of us anticipate that it would not work for one or the other.
So while being on such a close schedules during our last cycle/transfers was wonderful because we had each other for support, it has ended quite the opposite. Every milestone that D has passed in her pregnancy cuts like a knife – I should be passing these milestones also. And let me be clear….out of respect for my brokenness, she has not shared anything unless I ask – which is very, very little. I am only aware of the milestones because I am a woman. Because as infertiles, I think we are more acutely aware of what & when the milestones are…reaching the “safe zone,” finding out the baby’s gender, etc.
Though SHE has been amazingly supportive and kind, I find myself inable to support her in any capacity other than from a distance….in fact, I’m certain she must feel I haven’t supported her at all since the only support I’ve outwardly given is one or two emails just to say I hope things are going well. She can’t know that I think of her every single day and wish her well. I wish J & D nothing but the absolute best and yet I’ve been the lousiest friend on the planet – not intentionally by any means – but I have. I tried once to explain to my sister how I actually feel physically debilitated when I think of seeing D. How my hands shake and how my eyes well up.
Once, shortly after J & D received their positive pregnancy test, J stopped by to chat with my hubby…..they were in the garage discussing something mechanical (as men do), as I pulled into the drive from running errands and when I saw him, immediately my hands began to tremble on the steering wheel. I felt confused and as though I may pass out. So with nothing more than a “hey” to acknowledge them, I gathered my things and disappeared into the house. I never told anyone – not even my hubby – that I spent the next hour or so curled up in a ball in a dark corner of our bedroom. That was how I reacted just seeing J……I’ve no idea how my crummy body (or mind) might react if I actually saw D.
So as the time drew closer for her shower….imagine my surprise when she emailed me to ask if I wanted an invitation mailed to me. D explained she wanted me there, of course, but that she remembered how much those invites hurt her before…and she did not want to add to my pain. After the months of my being a horrible friend, I was embarrassed by her kindness. Humiliated, more accurately. I explained I would be honored to be invited and to of course have one sent…..but then asked if she could tell me the date, (so I wouldn’t have to open the invite until I was ready).
I was never ready. It sat in the top drawer of my desk for weeks, under a notebook and some old receipts.
When I finally opened it, knowing there must of been a date upon which I must RSVP by, I cried – no – sobbed. For hours. It would stop. And then start again. I felt lower than low. My stomach was in knots. What a silly thing to cry over. A beautiful 5×7 card of cream and pinks, grey print and happy news.
I tried to order from her registry (online so I didn’t have to go into the baby section of the store) but I couldn’t. I knew I wanted something special for them, but became incapable of putting in the effort.
Of COURSE I had to attend her shower. Again, these are dear friends of ours. J was the best man at our wedding for crying out loud. These are people who will forever be in our lives. And what would people think if I didn’t attend….I knew what they would think, they would think I was awful and selfish. And, they’d be right to a certain degree.
In the end, the brokenness won. I knew I couldn’t be there, no matter how important it was that D knew I supported her and genuinely am happy for her. I knew I wasn’t strong enough to smile, to “ooh” and “ahh” over all the sweet baby girl gifts she would receive and I knew I couldn’t play the silly shower games. I knew I couldn’t sit in a room full of women who would inevitably discuss this pregnancy or that toddler mishap or labor stories or take inquiries from those who don’t know me or my journey for children, asking when I’ll have them or why I don’t. I knew I couldn’t do it without crying. Without making some sort of scene. Without at least one person asking what was wrong. I knew other women who would be guests and who knew my “story” would try to console me, rather than dote on the guest of honor.
I’ve been a lousy enough friend, selfishly stuck in my own sad world and I knew I couldn’t attend her shower. Because I knew I couldn’t weather it. But more, because I refused to ruin her day even just a little bit by having any sort of breakdown and taking away one smidgen of her well deserved – well earned joy.
It took me several days of uneasiness to tell someone how I was feeling. I confided in my sister, who assured me it was okay to feel the way I was and told me she had a feeling D would understand as long as I was honest with her.
I was nervous to tell my hubby how was feeling. I was certain he would be angry that I couldn’t pull myself together for our friends. And I was fully prepared to play the “it’s not fair that men don’t have to attend these things” card. But he wasn’t angry. He didn’t criticize. He fully supported my decision and asked about the registry so that he could take care of choosing a gift.
Feeling validated and supported, I RSVP’d the very next day that I was unable to attend. I’ve attended many baby showers in my adult life. Three during our infertility journey. They were each very difficult and I recall being emotionally exhausted after every single one, but each of those were during a time when we still had hopes of becoming parents. Though the events were bitter sweet, I could fantasize that it would be our turn one day…..
This shower was different. It’s the first since we’ve been told we will never be parents. It is, as I mentioned before, at a time too close to when we shouldve been having a shower for our last embryo, had he made it.
When I told D I would not be attending, she once again showed kindness that I will forever appreciate. She said she understood which I fully believe. She was also honest and said she was disappointed. Not in me, but for me. I wanted to tell her its okay if she s disappointed in me. I wouldn’t blame her or hold it against her for one second, but I didn’t.
I have told many people what a good person D is. But she is more than good. And she is definitely better than I. I am fairly certain that she would have found the strength and attended my shower if the roles were reversed. This thought leaves me with a sense of guilt, the depth of which that I cannot fully explain, but it doesn’t help me find the courage to get out of bed today, the day of her shower, and attend.
I hope she reads this one day and knows I hope she has an exciting day full of joy and happiness. I hope her daughter has a heart like hers and that she grows up knowing how very much she was wanted and loved before she ever took her first breath. I hope our friendship will survive these awkward times and that I have the strength and opportunities to witness what a wonderful mother I know D will be.