And then there were two

I adore my nephew.  I would give my life for him because I love him so and because I’ve no children of my own, he is the closest I’ll ever come. (I’m no weirdo.  I do not – nor ever have – fantasized or pretended that he is MY child.)

My nephew needs a sibling.  He is, because of all of us who love him, a spoiled boy and would do well to have a life-long buddy with whom to share everything with.

My sister and her hubby have been working on it for some time and as much warmth as it gives me to say she shared last night she learned yesterday morning is 6 1/2 weeks pregnant, I am equally (as usual) as heartbroken.

She was terrified to tell me.  But we are sisters and she knew she had to share her news.  In terms of our family, she & I pretty much only have each other.  

She told me in a panic.  By sending me a text message which included the sonogram photo and an apology for delivering the news that way but admitting she didn’t know how to do so.

I was 10 minutes away from meeting a friend for dinner.  Which I can now tell you is not enough time to recover from the shock.  

I know she didn’t mean to hurt me.  I believe 100% she had no idea how to tell her only & big sister that her dreams of adding a sibling for my nephew are coming true, while my heart aches for even one child – an ache that cannot be fulfilled.

I know I will love and spoil the new baby.  I know my heart will hold lots of pride for him or her. 

But I also know my heart can not be filled by my sisters wonderful news.  Her news that where there was one, there are now two.

The Christmas that never was

And just like that, it’s gone.  The Christmas that never was.

The Christmas that should have been our last “first” Christmas.  The Christmas that should have been our most memorable, our most exciting, our most joyful.

The Christmas with no tree, no lights, no cards sent, not one Christmas song played.  The Christmas that had social media ignored and as many “regrets” RSVP’d as possible.

The Christmas I never wanted to be a part of. The Christmas, it felt, no one noticed I wasn’t. The Christmas I wish no one did. 

Stop Asking How I Am

Here’s the thing….there are three types of people who ask how I am. 

1. The person who doesn’t really care, but asks in a socially appropriate conversational way.  

2. The person who cares, but has a preconceived expectation I should or will answer in a certain way. 

3. A person who cares.

If you are a person who falls into any of these categories….stop asking.  And here’s why….

Person from #1:  It’s not that you aren’t polite and simply being conversational, it’s just that I KNOW you don’t actually care.  So as much as society thinks it’s polite, it is more a waste of your energy and mine to respond than it is worth in politeness points.  Be original.  Ask what I think about the weather, or the like.

Person from #2:  Quite the opposite of person from #1, I know YOU care.  But I also know how awkward it will be if I answer truthfully.  I know because I see your fear when you ask the question.  You are hoping that if I am not okay, that I will lie and say I am.  Most folks do, don’t they?  So, avoid the awkwardness and the burden it will put on us both, just don’t ask.

Person from #3:  Of all of these people, you care deeply.  I know you do.  I feel it.  I wish you wouldn’t ask how I am either.  Because you should already know the answer.  

I realize the request makes me the bad person, the bitch, the whatever….but I think the point is, if you don’t want to know the truth, the real answer to the question, then don’t ask.

Unbelonging

There is a medium in which I exist.  A space not fully defined.  A life with little reason.  A place of unbelonging.

I do not belong at the company picnic.  Where the men shift weight around the barbecue or cooler, discussing the work and cracking jokes at one another’s expense. And where the women gather at one table, talking about the small town daycare options, making lunches and t-ball practice while keeping one eye on the bounce house at all times for their little ones.

I do not belong at the beauty salon.  Sharing congrats and “you look amazing” compliments and stories of how, “when it’s over, you just can’t believe that your body could do such a thing!” While the nail technician rubs her perfectly round belly and bites her lip in anxiousness.

I do not belong at the office.  Where everyone else has a special schedule to accommodate school pick ups and jog-a-thon meetings.  Where calling in sick applies to not only the employee but for their children and where the childless must accommodate vacation times for those with. But those with do not for the childless.

I don’t belong on social media.  Where my online life has little meaning because I’ve not a child to give it as much.  Where “there is no better feeling” than sleepless nights.  Where my life is incomplete since I do not have a family of my own for whom the waiting & struggles were well worth.  And where the rest of the world rushes by, one post post or one photo at a time, while mine is frozen still – with no changes or new news to report.

I am unbelonging.

Night

Night is time for the stars to shine. For friends to gather in loud, fun places. 

Night is late dinners, later movies and frozen yogurt.  It is time to kick back, be lazy or even prepare for the next day.

Night is cuddle up, snuggle in, kisses and sweet dreams.  Night is a time for sleep. 

Night is also dark.  Quiet and lonely.  It is solitude unmatched.

Night is the daily reminder that the light will always dim.  Night is tossing, turning, lay on the couch.

Night is tear filled. Wishing. Hoping. Realizing there is nothing to hope for.

Night ends.  Night returns.

The Worst Day

It was yesterday.  But not present yesterday.  Yesterday one year ago yesterday.  365, now 366 yesterday’s ago that was what I’ve come to call “The Worst Day.”  As if I’d need a reminder, it’s even in my calendar as such.  

It was the day our RE said, “based what we know today, you can not get pregnant.”  

It was the last time I took the call to hear her say “I’m sorry but your blood test is negative.” 

It was the the last time I heard her “explain” that she didn’t know why it wasn’t working.

No one else on the planet recognized the day. Not my sister.  Not my best friend.  Not even Hubby. I am not certain how I feel about that, but I am certain of this….that I will likely never forget the date upon which my life’s dream ended.

If I’m being honest, yesterday’s anniversary of “The Worst Day” was not much different than any other hellish day that’s passed since.  

I started my day exhausted from lack of sleep.  I fought to get dressed in clothing that no longer fits for the weight I’ve gained and done nothing about.

I drove to my job – which I’ve come to be utterly uninterested in.  And then I drove home to do chores well into the night, not having real contact with anyone and hardly seeing my husband at all.

And , like every. single. day. since “The Worst Day” I thought regularly of the fact that I am not a Mommy.  

Instead of wondering how baby was doing at daycare all day, I thought of the papers from the RE’s office sitting on Hubby’s desk for a year. They require our signature and yet Hubby refuses to sign them to finalize the end of this.

I was reminded that I had no one to rush out of the office for to pick up from school or to help with homework as I stayed till 5 watching others leave at their specially scheduled earlier times to accommodate “mom-life.”  

I was reminded that I had no little one to cook a healthy meal for as we ate bowls of cereal for dinner.

I wish I could feel like the day not being significantly worse or better was a good thing, but like the other 365 days since “The Worst Day,” I feel the same emptiness, lack of purpose and sadness.

What I can say is that the anniversary of “The Worst Day” has passed.  And I survived it….which I only know to be true since I’ve risen this morning – exhausted from lack of sleep – to repeat another day like all the days since “The Worst Day.”

 Répondez s’il vous plaît 

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.