I found out the other day that one of my closest friends is pregnant. She is in her 15th week, and everything seems to be going well, and that’s all I’m going to say because she asked me not to write about her yet.
So I’ll write about myself instead.
“I’m happy for you, and sad for me,” I told her. “Or happy for you and a little jealous.”
This was as honest an explanation as I could come up with for the fact that my heart had sped up and I was fighting back tears. Like I’ve explained here before, pregnancy announcements hurt. Every. Single. Time. But to say that I wasn’t happy for her would be a lie. This isn’t some random, accidentally pregnant teenager we’re talking about. This is my good friend, and this is what she’s wanted, and now she has it.
“If it makes you feel any better,” she offered. “I feel horrible. All the time. [Morning sickness] is even worse than I imagined it would be.”
I laughed. “That doesn’t make me feel better! Now I’m sad for you, and scared for me!”
Which was a nice, light way of saying, “One day, I will be where you are, and you can tell me everything I need to know. And see? It’ll all be okay.”
For the most part, though, I tried not to let my inappropriate-humor-as-a-defense-mechanism tendency get the best of me.
“I’m sorry it’s hard,” my friend told me. She knows my story. She doesn’t always agree with my perspective, but she understands it.
“Hey, me too! But… I’m okay. Really. It’s right for you. It’s not right for me yet. I’m learning that my damage goes back way further than my miscarriage anyway. Because I think what I’m most sad about is knowing that, if things had gone differently for me, you and I could be in the same place in our lives right now.”
“I always kinda figured it was more about the divorce than the miscarriage,” my friend said.
And then I had one of those moments – like the time that Dawn told me she and her husband had always kind of known it wasn’t going to work out between me and my husband – where I wanted to scream, “Why didn’t you tell me?!” Only in that case, as well as in this one, I never would have listened.
So instead, I admitted it: “I had to have the miscarriage to deal with the divorce. Otherwise, I was just living in this bubble. If I had never gotten pregnant and miscarried, my situation would be no different than it is now. I might not be reactive to pregnant women specifically, but I would still have all these regrets about what my life is verses what it could have been.”*
“Yeah, but… My sister told me about something her therapist told her once,” my friend said. “Which was that most people aren’t where they thought they’d be. But you are where life has put you. And if you spend the whole time lamenting the goals you haven’t achieved, you’ll miss out on the life you’re in.”
And that pretty much sums up my entire mission here: to process and move past what happened to me, so I can actually enjoy what I got instead.
That night at dinner, my parents were talking about the new Speaker of the House, who has a reputation for getting emotional and crying during his speeches.
“They interviewed a public speaking coach on the news,” my mom said, “who advised that, if you’re giving a speech about something that you know is going to make you cry, you should be simultaneously thinking about something that doesn’t make you cry.”
“Like the Holocaust?” my brother offered.
“Um, Martin, I think that’s a huge leap in the wrong direction,” Doug said.
“What?” Martin was unfazed. “It doesn’t make me happy, but it doesn’t make me cry.” Obviously my inappropriate humor tendencies are genetic.
The next day at work, though, my friend’s pregnancy and my own derailed life kept rising to the forefront of my mind. So, needless to say, I spent a lot of time thinking about the Holocaust.
*Note: there is no part of me that still wishes I was with my ex-husband. My feelings and fears and regrets are not specific; they are purely situational.