I was sitting in my office, seeing clients, when I made the mistake of checking Facebook in between my 4:45 and 5:30. I felt like a brick slammed into my gut as I saw yet another jubilant pregnancy announcement. The woman in question looked joyous and glowing, full of life literally and metaphorically. The post, albeit wonderful, reminded me of my inability to do the same thing. I plugged in my phone, plastered a smile on my face, and opened the door to usher in another client.
I am not supposed to talk about this. I am supposed to be kind and inspiring and supportive of my fellow females. “There’s a special place in hell for females who put down other females,” coarsely says the recent meme. But what if talking about my pain doesn’t take away from my happiness for my pregnant sisters? What if they exist at the same time? What if the expectations we impose upon fellow females are inhuman? Because God knows, I’m as human as they get.
My baby was supposed to be born in 5 days. She was supposed to be a distraction from the current grotesque spectacle of an election. “The baby will “make November great again,” I had quipped to my husband. She would make November great again, because my Dad had passed away the same month and so had John’s Nana the past two years in a row. But then, she decided not to come, and November remained the way it was, cold and foreboding of more cold. And I watched other friends post sonogram pictures of their healthy, thriving babies.
My mind has brought me several ways to invalidate my feelings about my miscarriage. One, is that I have a healthy child. A child that is nothing but full of life. So why should I be sad about something that wasn’t a child yet? That was nothing but a clump of cells? I have one. Also, nags the voice, you know people that can’t even have one child. You should be grateful. It doesn’t help that this voice is backed up daily by well-meaning friends and family members. But this voice and these well-meaning people make no sense, because we can’t put qualifiers on what can be grieved and what can’t. Imagine if we had a cutoff for grief and anything that was above that line of awfulness couldn’t be grieved. Would only starving children be afforded the right to grieve? But a suburban mom couldn’t? Where’s the sense in that?
The thing is, it’s as if life said, Hey. Here is your chance to take care of another human soul. Here is a chance at joy for your family. Start to change your plans and take down the crib from the attic. Stop eating feta and coffee and start to prepare your older child for a sibling. But wait –
Just kidding, it says cruelly. Back up your car, you don’t get to go down that path anymore. Unbecome a pregnant woman, physically and mentally. Unprepare your child for a sibling. The guest room will just be a guest room and the good news is, you can have as much coffee as you want.
I was in Market Basket, shopping, and there she was. Demeter herself. A pregnant woman dressed in a beautiful flowered sundress. She was stunning – she had that knowing look in her eye, and I swear she could smell my jealousy. And here I was – half Persephone, half Demeter, strung out by no sleep, dressed in running clothes, hair a mess. I felt less than, less of a woman, even though my rational mind knew I wasn’t. My body remembered. My body remembered.
I am well aware that the picture of that pregnant woman on Facebook may very well be the same face of a woman who, like me, cried on the cold slab of the doctor’s table one heartbroken day. That she may have gone through numerous fertilization treatments. That she may have been told as a child she never could have children.
But none of that stuff can take away from my imperfect humanity, the stuff that makes you squirm. My humanity that feels less than and raw and yes, sometimes judges, even if she tries really hard not to.
And please don’t ask me to take it away. Please don’t expect me to be inhuman. Women are so much more than one-sided smiley-faced there-for-your-comfort holograms. We are full people, full of the stuff you like and the stuff you may not want to hear.