Sorry to start this blog with such a downer! Wow. Sometimes I'm just a bummer to be around!
No, I'm becoming an expert on the stages of my friends' pregnancies. Not on the nuts and bolts (though I do hear an awful lot about breast feeding classes, midnight cravings, and changing bodies), but on how an "infertile" person deals with the experience. I've only recently realized that there are actually stages to accepting others' pregnancies. And since this blog is all about me (just in case you were confused and thought it was about something else) and you getting "Glimpses of Me" and what's going through my head, I'll elaborate.
Stage One: This stage is optional, depending on the closeness of the friend, the openness of our relationship, and the circumstances of the conception. If I am lucky, I become aware that a friend is actively trying to conceive. You might be surprised, but this is a Stage for me. It takes time for me to come to terms with this new information. I even tell my friends that I will try to pray for success, but that most likely, I just physically will not be able to. With most, this stage is skipped.
Stage Two: Obviously, the announcement. If I knew the friend was trying, the announcement is a little easier to take. If I had no clue, it pretty much blind-sides me and sucks. If the announcement includes a "oops" in it, or a "we weren't even trying yet", well, that just knocks me down and sending me tumbling into at least a week of "Why, God?" and "It's just not fair!!" I had a very close friend ask me recently what to do when she gets pregnant. Should she call? Should she email? Should she wait for a face-to-face if possible? No, no and no. And yes, yes, and no. And no. And yes ... and I don't know ... My answer is this: My ability to respond with excitement is based almost completely on where I am in my monthly crappy cycle. It pretty much has nothing to do with how good of friends we are, or how much I love you or am happy for you. It has everything to do with A) If I was already bracing for it (i.e. I was blessed with a Stage 1) B) How recently I have been denied, yet again and C) How many other people have announced pregnancies lately. Stage Two is obviously a tough one. On to ...
Stage Three: The Sex of the Baby announcement. Surprisingly enough, this is a stage. Typically by the 20th-ish week U/S I have come to terms with the fact my friend is pregnant, and have actually started expressing interest, asking questions--you know, acknowledging it. And then the "It's a Girl!" or "It's a Boy!" (though in reality, they've all been "It's a Girl!" ones lately ...) comes. Whether I get a text, see a status change on Facebook (ugh. Pregnancy announcements on FB...that's a whole other blog), or get a personal phone call, this stage always hits me with a surprising rush of emotions. Now, because all the recent announcements have been female ones, I am not sure if I would have the same emotional response if it were a boy. It is the announcement itself? Or is it the announcement of a girl specifically? I guess I won't know until someone finally has a boy. Either way, as it stands, Stage Three sets me back a few days. Like I said, I've just adjusted to the friend's pregnancy and now I'm forced to re-accept, re-question, re-shout-unfair!-at-God, and re-pout about my lack of pregnancy. My lack of "girl-baby" pregnancy, in particular. But of course, I get used to it and slowly begin reaching out, asking questions ... moving on. Dealing, as usual. And it's all good. Until ..
Stage 4: The newest stage. The one I'm just now beginning to experience. It begins with Facebook Labor updates, centimeters dialated, contraction counting ... And all of the sudden, barely hours later, I'm hit with the stark truth: My friend is now a Mommy. Forever changed, forever. It takes a couple days to understand--she is a Mom. A Mother. A Mama. She is my age, and yet, has a baby. She does, and I don't. I get very apprehensive about seeing my Mommy friend and her new precious angel. I get very emotional, and I want to run and hide. I don't want people to pity me when they see me around the new baby. I just want to be gone, away from the babies. This stage is frustrating to me, because I wish I could just freaking be excited for my friend. But, in my life right now, I just can't. There is so much more for me to deal with first, to work through and accept. See, it's because I should be carting a two year old on my hip when I go to visit these new babies. I should be an experienced mother by now. Instead, I'm just not.
I thought this was it. I thought it was Four stages and I was
forever stuck in the "My Friend is a Mommy?!" stage.
Turns out, thankfully, I was wrong.
Stage 5: I hold the baby. My wounded soul is bandaged; my heart swells with tentative hope. On Sunday, a brand new beautiful baby was thrust into my arms, all 6 pounds something ounces of her ... and I starting bawling. Bawling out of pent up fear and confusion (see Stage 4), bawling out of months of emotion spent on acknowledging, and accepting this little one's existence (see Stages 2 and 3), bawling out of jealousy and bitterness melting away and hope seeping into the empty space. Bawling, just bawling. Because I don't know what else to do. I don't know anything anymore, except that now, months later, the baby is here. Unlike my babies, this one came to be. This one was used by God (already! She's like, a week old and being used by the Lord!) to touch my soul, and remind me of the glimmer of HOPE that I've stuffed down and covered up with my nasty reality, bitterness, fertility treatments, and angry blogs.
The Stages of Pregnancy ... each one is so difficult for my wounded,trembling heart to take. And yet, here I am, in each of those stages at various times, often overlapping stages, doubling up on stages, stuck in certain stages and all the while, wondering when I get a turn. When my little angel will appear and finally allow me to experience the real stages of pregnancy. Not just the stages of all of my friends'. I guess only time will tell, since God is being pretty silent. For now, at least I can hold my friends' babies and be reminded, even if just for a little while, of the amazing miracle of HOPE.