I needed over a week to process what happened and then write about it. I honestly didn’t know what to write because I couldn’t process how I felt. Every time I tried my heart felt empty and cold, my throat tight. Today’s story required patience, reflection and time. I’ll start at the beginning.
My friend M is a wonderful person. She has the kind of soul that shines bright before her. Have you ever fallen in love with a girlfriend? Someone you meet and are transported back to childhood days where you immediately want to come up to them and invite them on your side of the monkey bars and give them the other half of your grape popsicle? We became good friends. Several years ago, I confided my problems with trying to conceive, my worries, my fears. She is one of the few people IRL I felt comfortable doing this with. She (39) is about the same age as I am (40). After the years, I could tell that our conversations, my confessing how I wanted having a family in my life were affecting her. She admitted a year ago she was talking to her husband about having a family too. He already had grown children and was preparing more for early retirement than starting over. This was a great source of conflict for her. We supported each other, we talked. When MrBeep agreed for us to try for a family we chose to get married. She, M, agreed to be my Matron of Honor, the only person I chose to stand up with me.
But life gets busy I had not seen her in a while. She lives an hour away so most of our time together required a bit of time and organization. She was going to school and working both a regular job plus an internship. We’d chat online briefly but I knew what little time she had left in a day needed to be spent with her wonderful husband and dogs. So I maybe saw her once in the six months before she finally called and invited me to go to a farm for u-pick blueberries. She suggested a date in the middle of the weekday morning.
Before I left my house that morning, I knew it had the potential to be a “hard infertile day”. Most people take their families to blueberry farms to pick berries. I have seen the blog entries from mommies who take their kids and toddlers, but I am typically fine around families. I try to keep myself positive and optimistic and look the situation as something I hope to have someday rather than something I don’t have. I also really wanted some delicious and cheap northwest blueberries.
I arrived at the farm and noticed her car wasn’t there yet, so I got out of my car and started to douse myself with sunscreen. Her car pulled up, but she didn’t get out. She called me over to come to the car and have a seat. This was not unusual since we both do this to have the other hear some new music we’ve discovered. I got in and she gave me a piece of paper, a hand made card. I read the front and opened the card and there was a ultrasound photo with a clearly defined baby’s face. I was stunned. I wasn’t sure what to say. I was happy for her and turned to say, “Congratulations! What a wonderful surprise and wow this ultrasound looks very detailed, how many months along are you? Four? Five?”
“Seven,” she answered. And then she moved her sweater aside and there was a cute, perfectly round basketball sized belly.
It was like someone hit me square in the chest with a baseball bat. I could hardly breathe. I have never, NEVER reacted this way to finding out someone was pregnant. One half of my brain was jumping up and down cheering for joy the other half was just still. Stunned. I knew I had to stay calm. I knew I needed to act my normal happy self. I didn’t want to ruin this day for her, but I knew it would be tough for me. I gave her more hugs and congratulations then we both got out of the car and walked toward the entrance. We grabbed picking buckets and headed out to the fields.
I kept the conversation light, asked about her husband and her mom. She told me they were so worried due to their age that they kept it a secret from everyone, including her mom (with whom she is very, very close) until she was 5 months along and had the results from amnio. She explained how scared she was when a pre-screening test came out positive for abnormalities. I told her I was sorry she had to go with all that stress alone, but that I understood why she would want to keep private and how happy I am to know that everything is normal. I joked I would love some privacy myself.
To a certain degree inward, my mind was razor focused. I didn’t need to make eye contact. We were crouched down, finding the best looking and ripest berries on the bush while we talked. Inwardly I meditated on the positive side of things, and the patience I needed to exercise to stay calm and keep breathing. I didn’t want to do or say anything I would regret, anything to make me sad, anything to hurt my friend. But it was so hard. We were completely surrounded by families. There were mommies and grandparents with tons of kids excitingly calling out that they found a spider and here’s another handful and look at me look at me. We were in a row all by ourselves, but I was surrounded and drowning.
Then she asked me how my IVF went back in June. I had never called and told her what happened, she knew that I was going to keep things to myself, but I think she was hoping that I would give her good news…but I had no good news to tell. So in the middle of that field, I calmed my soul, steeled myself and quietly told her about things going along well, then the drug not working, the retrieval and transfer and finally being pregnant for only a few days. I told her that we would try again and these things happen and how complicated IVF is, but that it was really hard because I really only have a few chances left.
Then she did it. She was trying to be comforting. I know this. She said, “Oh, sweetie, I’m so sorry. I completely understand.”
That’s when I shattered.
“No you don’t understand” I whispered, starting to cry. “No one I know has any idea how this feels. None of my friends truly understand how it is and I don’t have anyone to talk to and I don’t want to burden anyone.” I was overwhelmed with a sense of loss and sadness. One side of my brain kept thinking, how could she do this to me? How could she take me here, in public, to give me her news? Why would she ask sensitive things of me while I was surrounded by pregnant bellies and happy families? How could she stand there, 7 months pregnant with everything tested and declared OK and tell me that she understands? What had I ever done to deserve this utter disregard of my feelings?
But that’s not how things are, I knew. M is my friend. I love her and know she would never do anything intentionally to hurt me. It just happens sometimes. We do our best to consider the feelings of others, but it is impossible to see the world from every perspective.
This is not my destination. I will write more about the rest of the day, my thoughts and feelings. Please understand that I love my friend and this is not an open invitation to berate her. My entries on this day are a journey to a new understanding of myself using patience, reflection and time.
To be continued…