I don’t want to write this, not really – and I know I don’t owe it to you – but I feel like I owe it to myself, in a way, because I’ve committed (as part of my justification for having a blog) to documenting the ups and downs of infertility/child loss, as a kind of road map of ‘How It Can Be’ – the like of which I found so very comforting when I first entered this ‘world’.
Besides, it’s been obvious that something’s been a bit ‘off’ with me lately, and the friends who’ve asked have mostly been met with a quick brush-off and change of subject, which isn’t really fair. So perhaps I owe it to them a little bit.
So here it is – I’m two weeks late for my period.
I didn’t acknowledge it at first, nor check dates in my calendar. There was a mild wondering along the lines of ‘shouldn’t I be due sometime soon?’ but I didn’t focus on it – there’s too much else going on in my mind at the moment – so when I finally got my diary out and looked at the dates, there was a sudden, stilling intake of breath, and as I stood there in the hallway, Hope flickered.
The Hope I had officially given away to others to hold, because it hurt too much to see it dashed to pieces each month; the Hope I could no longer handle living with for the constant, torturous grip it held me in; the Hope which, with Husby’s change of treatment and the cementing of his infertility, had seemed to quieten and distance itself from me…
For a week and a half, I let myself live with Hope.
I tried to tell myself repeatedly that there was simply no way, but my imagination ran into daydreams of blue lines, swollen bellies, morning sickness, exchanged looks of excitement with Husby, and finally, that most glorious of events: a live birth. I saw mothers with their babies and for a week and a half thought “Perhaps” instead of “Ouch!”
I panicked, too, because Husby’s depression still looms in the background, and my brain is ten kinds of messy, and the prospect of disappointment or the contemplation of another miscarriage was almost unbearable, and Hope seemed threatening then, as though if I thought about it or tested or bought into my dreams, they would be brought crashing down, and anyway, pregnancy is no guarantee of a live birth – I could still lose it at any point.
I didn’t tell anyone until the weight of worry became too much to handle alone, and I reached out to some of my Lifeboats, who generously let me unburden myself to them; to share my fears and my dreams and my hesitance, and who accepted the situation and my response and said they were there for me.
But then one piece of common-sense advice got through. What if I waited to test, and then in two more weeks, or a month, or however long it was, there was just disappointment – I would have had that much longer with Hope, and so that much further to fall.
I hated hearing that, and knowing it was right, because Hope had become precious by then – a glimmer that somehow there had been a miracle and that Husby and I might be parents – and anyway, as long as I didn’t confirm the negative, then the possibility still remained; Schroedinger’s pregnancy, if you will.
Husby agreed, though, that knowledge and confirmation might be the best way forward, then at least we could carry on our lives informed, one way or another, and so on Saturday morning, having planned to go out for cake afterwards (either in celebration or consolation), I took the test. We laid on the bed, curled together and trying to tell each other it would be negative; that we were wasting the last test; that there was no chance, for three long minutes (and one more, to be certain) while Hope danced over our heads, spinning visions of sleepless nights and small, newborn-perfumed heads.
We walked the long walk back to the bathroom together, to check.
It was negative.
Of course it was negative. He has an endocrine disorder and is taking a treatment which makes him even *more* infertile. And I haven’t been eating properly lately and have done altogether too much exercise out of anxiety, and *neither* of us are in a fit state to be parents, not really. And anyway, a positive result is no guarantee of a child. There are lots of reasons why I could be late for my period (probably). It was ridiculous even to think it could be pregnancy.
So we brightened ourselves up and went for Cake of Consolation, and tried to be okay about it.
We weren’t okay about it (though as he pointed out – better the disappointment than another loss).
I was cranky, and Husby – the man I want to be Little Old Uglies with; the man I chose (and choose) to spend my life with – reiterated that he thought perhaps I would be better off without him; with someone instead who could “give you what you want” (in spite of my insistence that there are not now, nor have there ever been hoards of men banging on the door wanting to marry me and start a family, OR my staunch defence that it’s still HIM I want to be with), and that he felt guilty for being the one who was broken and responsible for rendering our dreams of a family impossible.
I saw the weight of sorrow in his eyes and heard it in his voice – he wants this as much as I do, though I think it hurts him a little less; his hurt has a lot more to do with my sadness – and I tried so hard not to add to his guilt and pain, but hot, fat tears escaped and fell down my face as I drove us home.
Hope had grown sharp edges and was cutting the insides of my heart to shreds, leering with a wicked smile full of needle-sharp teeth, telling me “You should have KNOWN”, leaving me with an ache which folded over and over and enveloped me and made me wish that we could curl up together and just stop being, because the combination of his brokenness and my own seems to have created an abyss of pain which we’ve been kicked over the edge of – again.
“I don’t like Hope – it hurts.” I grouched to him, “I should just test straight away next time (if there is one) and eliminate it early on…but at the time it was too nice to live with even just the possibility.”
He looked askance at me
“Of course Hope hurts – by its very definition it means that something is unfulfilled…”
And to my friends, who have once again held me together; who have listened to my fears and dreams and not judged; who have consoled and commiserated and not said I was foolish; who have been kind and generous with their time; who have done their best to cheer me up and make me laugh again; who have chosen to care about me, and have shown it – thank you, from the bottom of my hopeless heart.