If things had worked out differently, my baby would be two today.
Incidentally, my maternal grandfather would be 98 today. I never met him, either.
But things didn’t work out differently. I lost that pregnancy on account of a blighted ovum in my eleventh week, and my grandfather died of a heart attack when my mom was twelve years old. Things don’t always happen the way we think they should, and then it’s up to us to learn and grow and work with our reality.
Back in August, I asked only one thing from this project: healing. Now, after learning that healing (in the black-and-white, magic potion, erase-the-past sense of the idea) is impossible, I know I’ve gained something even better: understanding and acceptance.
Understanding: I started writing because I felt like I was carrying around this huge weight of an experience, and I couldn’t explain it well enough to suit me. I wanted the right to be a little disappointed at friends’ pregnancy announcements, to refuse invitations to baby showers, to roll my eyes and complain about pregnant women wearing horizontal stripes or otherwise making something that was already in my face, that much more in my face. And I wanted the right to do these things without having to explain myself every. single. time. I decided to put my hurt out there into the universe, so that at least the people that knew me well would read and understand and cut me a little slack.
And acceptance: Another of my initial goals was to learn to love the life I was in, instead of mourning the life I had lost – something I’d been trying and failing to do since the day I miscarried. So here, on days when I was not describing my pain, I tried to focus on the joy of the things going on around me: my relationship with Doug, with my family, with my friends, with Dawn’s babies. I’ve tried, to the best of my ability, to make this an everyday practice, and I think for the most part I’ve succeeded. I can honestly say that I spend more time in the moment these days than I did two years ago – even nine months ago.
One last bike-ride-as-a-metaphor-for-life story. Yesterday, Doug and I went on separate rides. He and a buddy decided to ride 70 miles in the 100-degree desert – San Diego County’s second-hardest cycling route, most of it climbing. I went with my dad and brother, half that distance on a far easier course.
I fight with my bike all the time. For me, the ride is rarely worth the pain. I often feel too slow, too weak, too unprepared. Doug, on the other hand, is a great rider. He has the strength, the endurance, and the thick head one needs to travel great distances on pedal-power alone. On almost every ride we’ve been on together, I’ve been miserable, and Doug has been known to say such helpful things as, “God, I love big hills!” and, “C’mon babe, you can do this, it’s easy!”
Well, yesterday’s ride broke him. He was unprepared, he was out of his league, and the heat certainly didn’t help. He called me from the finish, gasping for breath. When he got home, he admitted how much he’d been hurting, and admitted that he’d had to sit out for one four-mile loop of the course to gather his wits and refuel. He told me that, had that been his first cycling experience, he would’ve thrown the bike away and quit right then and there. Then he said, “I’m sorry for not understanding how you must feel on rides that I think are easy. After today, I think I finally get it.” Understanding.
Meanwhile, Dad, Martin, and I were cruising up and down the coast, on familiar roads with familiar hills. It wasn’t easy – at some points, I ended up 40-50 yards behind the guys, mentally cursing them for not riding at my pace, or at least being aware that they were losing me – but it was manageable. As my dad told my mom later, I never gave up and walked, not even up the big hill leading to my parents’ house at the very end of the ride. And I realized: this is where I’m at. I don’t even want to try the courses that Doug expects to conquer. For me, 35 miles with my family is a perfectly acceptable ride. It’s good exercise and good company, with good coffee somewhere in the middle. It’s challenging without being defeating. I shouldn’t be mourning the hills I can’t climb or the speeds I can’t attain. This is where I’m at, and it’s plenty good enough for me. And acceptance.
We didn’t end up planning anything to commemmorate today – nothing ever felt like the “perfect” way to celebrate. And then, last night, Doug told me what he wanted to do. He suggested that we turn everything off, and just spend a quiet evening at home together. When we decided not to try again after my miscarriage, it was under the pretense that we hadn’t gotten enough “us-time.” So, he explained, why not make a point of having us-time now, while we still can, before the wedding-crazy and the baby-crazy really take over? And what better night to start than tonight? To give you (well, him) a taste of what’s coming next, I’m even going to cook.
That all being said, I think it’s only right that I end this story the same way it began: by peeing on something, and getting excited about it…
So there you have it. My name is Marie. Today, on the would-be birthday of both a baby and a grandfather I never got to meet, I am 28.75 years old, divorced, and child-free. But I have a great family, wonderful friends, an amazing boyfriend, and an incredibly bright future. I can’t wait to see what it brings.
I’m here: nervous, excited, a little sad to say goodbye. But so, so ready.