It’s come up a lot lately – in therapy, and conversations with friends – that I don’t really know who my “people” are. I’ve mentioned the infertility community, with their secret code, and I think maybe that’s the closest I’m going to get, although I definitely remain on the outside since I’m not trying to conceive. I’ve mentioned that pregnant women can somehow relate to me – because they understand what I’ve been through inasmuch as they fear it with all their hearts – but it doesn’t work in reverse. And most women who have miscarried have moved on, tried again, and completed the cycle by having healthy babies, skewing their perspective on what I’m going through.
I tell myself, and everyone else, that there simply is no community of post-miscarriage women who’ve chosen birth control – unless the miscarriage came as a relief. And so I convince myself that I am all alone.
This is an old story I’m about to tell, but since I’ve been claiming that I have no “people,” I feel like I need to tell it, to remind myself that, actually, I do.
Several months ago, I came into work one day and learned that a pregnant customer had started having contractions in the middle of our store the day before. Some of my coworkers had gotten her a chair and called her husband – all in all, it was not such a big emergency, not like the day that an elderly lady dropped her oxygen tank on her foot and bled all over the linoleum. Still, you can imagine my reaction.
“I am so glad I wasn’t here for that,” I told the girl who’d told me. Most of my coworkers know that pregnant women make me uncomfortable. Most of them don’t know why.
“I know, me too,” she exclaimed. “I would have freaked out. I would’ve been like, ‘Oh hell no, get out of here before your water breaks all over the place!'” Thalia is young (21), tiny, and fiery. Her boyfriend of five years works with us also.
I don’t remember exactly why or how, but I ended up telling her, briefly, my story: I was pregnant once, lost it, decided not to get pregnant again, and now I’m traumatized. And that was how I learned that the same thing had happened to her.
In fact, we realized, Thalia lost her pregnancy at the same time, in real time, that I lost mine – give or take a few weeks. She then went on the pill when she and her boyfriend decided they weren’t actually ready to raise a child yet.
“It makes me feel so much better just knowing that someone else has been through the same thing,” she told me later that night, and we hugged.
Sure, she’s seven years my junior, and it would be easy for me to say, “Oh, but she’s really not ready for a baby.” It doesn’t matter. The feelings – the hope, the excitement, the disappointment, the grief – are the same. And it does feel better, knowing that someone else has been through the same thing, made the same decision, feels the same feelings, and therefore: I am not crazy.
We haven’t talked about it since; it’s enough just to know. But should another woman ever go into labor in the middle of the store, I guarantee you they’ll find me and Thalia hiding together out back somewhere, waiting for the traumatic storm to pass.
Today I am thankful that I am not, in fact, alone.