In so many ways my life is complete now that Ms. Magpie is here. And I feel like for the most part I strike a pretty good balance juggling the past and the present, acknowledging the sad times and uncertainty, the grief leading up to our daughter's arrival, but not dwelling there. And also relishing the gratitude and feeling of wonder that she has now arrived so fully - plunk - right into the center of our lives. Generally, my reproductive history feels similar to other non-striking aspects of my personal stats: I have freckles, I'm right-handed, I am pear-shaped, I wear glasses, I struggled with infertility and loss.
But sometimes infertility rears its head up again and proves that while dormant, the pain associated with our history hasn't entirely gone away.
This weekend was one of those times. One of my neighbors who has a child Magpie's age and I were talking and she let me know that she is expecting her second child. Makes sense, Magpie and friend are 16 months old now, optimal spacing between siblings in a normal non-infertile situation, etc. I felt a teeny tiny pang, but not much. I was OK, I thought. But the longer my neighbor talked, the more painful it felt. She let me know that actually she and her husband had been shooting to get pregnant two months from now, but they are "so fertile" (unfortunate actual quote) that they got pregnant right away. Ah yes, me too, I hate when I get pregnant sooner than I planned! (please note sarcasm). At another point she said something that led me to think that maybe there had been one prior pregnancy before the one resulting in her current child and she clarified that no, they'd tried twice, gotten pregnant twice, and would be having two optimally spaced kids.
There is a chasm I've felt before that sometimes opens up between me and another (fertile) person; well, right then and there, I felt the chasm appear and then expand, her on her side taking for granted that you can plan for a child and get pregnant and everything turns out just fine, and me on the other side thinking every second is a precious miracle not to be taken for granted, something wonderful...and precarious. We stood on each side of the chasm talking, except she didn't even know that the divide was there.
And with the awareness of the gulf between us, I felt that twinge. That old familiar pain. That sense of, wow, what would our lives have been like if we had gotten pregnant - and stayed pregnant - when we first tried, six years ago? If we hadn't lost the six pregnancies, if we hadn't had all the failed IVFs, all the heartbreak, all the financial strife, those months and months of absolute hopelessness after our sixth loss when we didn't know what to do or which way to turn?
Of course, not productive, these thoughts. But the whole situation pricked at this place in me that is usually silent.
We are who we are, the grateful and astounded parents of Magpie. And at the same time we are not the people, not the parents, who we would have been. For good and for bad, this journey has changed us. And surprising to me, some grief remains. Dormant, quiet for the most part, but present still.
And standing there, on my side of the chasm looking across at this other woman, I thought of those of you still struggling to have a child. I wish for every one of you still in the trenches that your time there be short. I wish for you to learn what you can from the trenches, because I suppose that since you are there anyway, there are some gifts that can come from suffering. But may your stay be brief and a baby come into your arms soon, ever so soon.
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