The only thing I’ve ever had to do alone is try to conceive. Yes, Frank was there trying in the physical sense, but unbeknownst to me, on an emotional level he was merely going through the motions. It wasn’t until after we’d been I’d been trying and failing for a year and a half that he said to me one night, on Thanksgiving, no less, “I’m not really ready to have a baby yet.” The conversation and tears that followed were weighted with stunned bitterness, hissed out in the quieted midnight hush in the spare room of my great-grandmother’s house. What the hell had we been doing for the past year and a half, then?
Four days later, my 17-year old sister found out that she was pregnant. I couldn’t run from it and I could only hide so much, because at the time Frank and I still lived at home with my mother. This twisted dagger that stabbed was sleeping right down the hall, throwing up breakfasts of apples and pancakes which I cleaned, the rounded belly causing my eyes to burn. Remember to breathe, I’d tell myself. Just breathe and get
through today. Be the big sister she needs you to be. Be strong for
today’s ultrasound/OB appointment/maternity clothes shopping
trip/maternity & delivery tour/baby shower planning and hosting/delivery.
Just make it through to tonight, then you can cry out the ugly to be
able to put on the pretty face for tomorrow. Breathe.
My mother, whose support I did have, was so consumed with the immediate situation of Chanel’s pregnancy that my struggles fell into her peripheral. She was aware, but her focus was elsewhere, as it should have been. I understood, and I did not want to burden her too much with how I was affected by the pregnancy. She had enough dealing with her emotions and Chanel’s. Still, not having that focus at least on the days when I couldn’t put on the mask gouged a raw and gaping hole which left me feeling even more isolated.
With my nephew’s birth, several things shifted all at once – I hit a grinding new level of low, Frank woke up, and Mom exhaled. It was around then that I finally found others who could relate on a message board. Shortly thereafter, we finally got to the business of Clomid. I didn’t ovulate on the first cycle. Of all the moments when I cried, that was the first time that I felt I was not left alone with my tears. Mom and Frank were there, and finally I felt like I was beginning to be understood and acknolwedged. Thankfully, on the next cycle we were met with success. Out of almost two and a half years,for two months I was not alone. I am grateful for it, but it was like Frank and my mother showed up at the end of the final act, just in time for the dramatic last lines and curtain drop, then sweeping applause and shouts of bravo. Later, I held my breath as we continued to build our family with further assistance from Clomid. Now, the work is done.
Through the worst of it all, I had no outlet. There was no-one to validate and help me make sense of my feelings, nowhere to retreat except inside my own mind and quiet, dark corners where I could cry alone. Now, I have this corner that I’ve notched out for myself amid others who understand. I read and learn from others, absorb and digest, ask myself new questions, unpack parts of the past, and reflect. Finally, I feel like I have a place where I can process everything I’ve held pressed tight and tucked away inside. Old hurts, new healing.
For Nic, who wanted to hear more about my walk around the frigid edge of infertility.