Two things have happened in the past few days that have made me realize how far I’ve really come here.
The first was that I saw a post on facebook, from an ex-coworker up in Seattle (actually, now she’s in Canada): “Poor [husband],” it said. “All he got for Valentine’s Day was a whiny, nauseated wife.”
Side note: You know the term gaydar? I’d like to implement a new one: pregdar. It’s the radar that lets us miscarriage survivors and infertiles pick up on tiny little clues like this, the one that makes us feel like pregnant women are stalking us, the one that makes us so painstakingly aware of even the tiniest baby bumps.
So my pregdar went off, and I started snooping around on my friend’s facebook page, looking for the dreaded announcement. And I found nothing.
I sent her a message demanding to know why I hadn’t been warned that she was pregnant, and she replied almost instantly, apologizing.
I had kind of hoped that if I didn’t put up pictures of my stomach (which I hate doing anyways), and didn’t write some annoying post about my pregnancy every few days (like so many of them do)..that hopefully you wouldn’t be quite as annoyed with me.
And then I decided that I love this girl. Actually, I already knew that. She was pregnant with her son when I first met her three years ago (this was before my miscarriage and subsequent aversion to pregnant women), and remains the least obnoxious pregnant woman I’ve ever met: she worked our very physical job right up until the day before her water broke; she never complained; she farted openly and unapologetically (which is something I could never do, but somehow appreciate in others).
She went on to tell me the story, again, of her own first miscarriage, and how that pregnancy had been so unexpected and so poorly timed (shortly before her wedding), that she was actually a little relieved when it didn’t stick – although her husband had been devastated. And she reminded me of her belief that a lost first pregnancy is “just your body’s way of ‘learning how’ to be pregnant – it’s a complicated process, right?”, and reassured me that she’s sure it’ll work out for me once Doug and I do try again, just like it did for her.
And then I emailed her back to tell her how much I love her, and how I hope she’s right, and how excited I am to have my period right now because it’s like “positive data for my fertility experiment.”
A few months ago, I’m not sure I could have coped with this news, even given the facts of the situation and the empathy of the reporter (because actually, they’ve been trying for their second child for over a year, and for a while there, weren’t sure they were going to be able to have one). But now… I felt no pain upon learning she was pregnant again, aside from the slight injustice of not having been told right away, and I was able to happily skip right to the part where we got excited about it being my turn soon.
Then, the other morning at work, I was joking around with one of my supervisors about puppies or something, and he said, “My wife and I had a kid, and that went well, so we figured we could handle a dog, too.”
“Hey,” I said, suddenly remembering that his wife was pregnant. “Aren’t you having another kid soon?”
“No. Not really. It didn’t work out.”
“Wait, really? I’m sorry. When did that happen?”
“A while ago.”
It hit me then, like a ton of bricks. The day, several months ago, when he’d called out for a “family emergency,” and my pregdar had gone off and I’d asked everyone I could whether it had something to do with his wife, but nobody had any information for me. When he came back the next day, bright and jovial as ever, I asked him whether his wife was okay.
“Yeah, she’s fine,” he’d said. “Thank you for asking.”
At the time, I thought that had meant the crisis wasn’t pregnancy-related. Now, I realize that he was just telling the limited truth: his wife was fine. The baby was gone. And I’d had no idea.
Back to the other morning. “It was pretty hard,” he said. “I mean, it sucked because I had to take her to the hospital and everything. And with our daughter, everything was so easy – like, textbook – so we never thought we’d have any problems with the next one. But I guess these things happen more often than people realize.”
“I know,” I said. “It happened to us once, too.”
This whole conversation took place without either of us looking up from our work – him stacking apples, me sorting through trays of bread. And the rest of the day passed as normal.
A few months ago, I might have started crying then and there. I might have pursued the conversation, pushing it beyond the limit of what’s acceptable to say at work or in public. But now, I feel like I was able to make a momentary connection and then move on to more immediately important things: apples, bread, making sure the store opened on time.
I think I’m going to make brownies tomorrow, though, and give them to him to take home to his family. And maybe I’ll offer him the link to my blog, in case his wife could still use some comfort and solidarity. I mean, sure it’s been months, but couldn’t we all?