After my miscarriage, Hannah brought in Missy, and we proceeded to email-as-therapy through the infertility indignities that Hannah and her husband were now enduring. We wrote wildly inappropriate haiku about endometriosis, surgeries, and how I thought Missy was "as sweet as a rash." We assured one another of being safe to say the wrong thing, because each of us had suffered our own tragedies, and we had a vague idea of what "the wrong thing" was. Believe me when I say that these emails were and are balm to my soul. In the last two years, we have covered more topics than I can count, in more emails than Gmail likes to deal with, and I have yet to even meet Missy face to face. I trust them with intimate details of my life, because they have privileged me with the same.
Because the first pregnancy had ended sadly, Hannah was a cheerleader for us when we started to try again. When the pregnancy test was positive, I called her. We talked about loving the infertile from a fertile perspective (just as I discovered pregnancy, she and her husband were beginning to explore their options). We emailed about idolatry - hers was a pregnancy the way she wanted, mine was to control the outcome of this pregnancy the way I wanted - and through it all, my heart was intent on protecting her heart. I probably slathered things on more thickly than usual in an effort to soften the blow of being pregnant and talking to a friend discovering increasingly bad things about her prospects for the same. If I complained about morning sickness, it was with lots of wry sarcasm and faux "woe is me" sentimentality so that she could laugh and sympathize rather than bitterly think, "I wish I could complain about morning sickness."
Another thing I found myself praying against was judging her and her husband for so doggedly pursuing a baby that was biologically "them." The obstacles they faced were excruciating and daunting, and she shared them freely with Missy and I... and I privately wondered if I would do the same. My email to her read:
There is a part of me that wonders if I'd go straight to adoption if instant baby wasn't in my future, and part of me that warns the other part not to go there. I don't know how I would respond. Once you get the emotions involved, there's a great deal that's out the window when it comes to purely rational decision-making. It's how God made us... and if we FEEL broken, even if how we feel isn't what's real, it STILL FEELS REAL. I can imagine it's a hard thing all around, and I don't envy you the process, dear friend.Because I was walking that infertile road vicariously, I permitted myself to think things without saying them, to pray for their efforts, and to try to lighten her load however she needed. And when it was clear they were moving forward with the fertility options they had, I was behind them 100%. We continued to email and learn more about one another. Hannah, like others I know who have suffered, endeavored to write a primer on walking with others through similar trials. I think she did so beautifully, and it helps that she has degrees in things like counseling and therapy and crap. I know the important stuff - I don't care about her pedigree or diplomas or whatever.
And after over a year of throwing themselves into fertility treatments that included at least one surgery, big drugs, and procedures that aren't all warm and fuzzy when you think of "let's make a baby!", Hannah and her husband got the very unfortunate news that the door was rapidly closing on their options. Things in Hannah's body had so deteriorated in one year that even IVF (in vitro fertilization) success was significantly reduced, if cost and ethical considerations hadn't already prohibited it. Her doctor advised them to keep trying, but that conception was moving from the realm of "medical" to the realm of "miracle."
The emails stopped for a month. We all grieved. Celebrated Thanksgiving. In very early December, we traded missives that each dealt with our impressive tempers and how we controlled them. Or not.
I didn't go through all of it. Instead I walked through most of it and then I turned around. I started staring each of them down. They started shutting up. And of my German Grandfather's ire and temper came out. Glaring. Yes. I slammed the door on my way out. It's funny. I think I'm more scary when I don't say anything.
Today was better in that I didn't almost adopt a cat out of guilt or receive any more news about my family. I did, however, completely lose my shit while doing Christmas shopping. The highlight though is that Andy now has a collection of one-liners that I managed to produce in the middle of my tirade... one-liners which, in retrospect, send us both into fits of laughter. Highlights include, "as if I enjoy having sensory issues only found in autistic children"; "why does your mother insist on buying me itchy sweaters from that God-forsaken store?"; and, my personal favorite: "those fuckers at J. Crew". Because my husband is a saint, he immediately took me to the food court, bought me a pretzel and a soda, and then forgave me and validated everything I said. Then he dubbed it the Airing of Grievances and we toasted to the early beginning of Festivus.
(I can't post my temper excerpt. It might be about you and then you'd be embarrassed and I would have to apologize for something that I wasn't sorry about.)The Not So Fertile Road, Part 3: Now What?