Friday, May 30, 2008

I Met Myself Today

I have become the pregnant woman that I used to avoid at all costs. You might find me at Tar.get. Or your favorite restaurant. Just walking down the street.

I am unmistakably pregnant. I've been told that I glow. I rub my belly - both because it itches and because my baby is moving like a wild thing. I don't even realize that I am doing it half the time.

This morning, I was in line at Star.buck's. The lady in front of me turned around and I saw it. I saw the unmistakeable sadness tug at her eyes. Before you think that I could be just imagining it, she asked me how far along I was. She asked how I was feeling, morning sick? Back aches? All of the above? She was friendly, genuinely interested in my pregnancy, but that look was still there, a tightening of the mouth, a slight grimness to the smile.

From her questions, it was clear that she knew a lot about pregnancy. I didn't want to ask, because I was almost sure that I knew the answer, but then there was no guessing.

"I was due in September."

The was caught in her throat and lashed into my heart. "Oh, I am sorry."

"I lost the baby in April."

"I'm so, so sorry." Why is it that after all of our losses, that is still the best that I can come up with? Why is it that I have nothing more profound to offer this grieving mother?

"This isn't my first pregnancy. I lost several babies before this one. I know how much it hurts," was what I decided to say.

"Oh, that's awful. It took us three years to get pregnant. We did IVF. And then I lost it." I can see that she hates her body, for what it failed to protect, for losing what she held so dear.

I wanted to comfort, to offer solace. But despite our common background, the belly between us felt like a deep chasm.

Suddenly, it was her turn to order. Life interrupted. We both got caught up in getting our drinks, moving on with our day. I tried to catch her attention again before she left, wanting to give her some of the resources that I found so helpful, but she was gone.

Before I was pregnant, I felt that it was so easy to reach out. Now, it's different. Even when I comment on blogs now, I feel self-conscious. I don't comment sometimes, even when I want to, because I fear that I might come across differently than I did before, that I might hurt instead of help. It is certainly no easier in the real world to know the right or wrong things to say. "I'm sorry" doesn't seem like enough, even though I know it is better than nothing. I just feel as if I should be able to do better.

As I was crossing the parking lot, I saw her driving away. I couldn't see clearly enough to know for sure, but I almost am positive that she was crying.

And a second later, so was I.


G$ said...

I don't know if there is anything better to say than I am sorry. Really, those are the only words that make me feel better. You handled it well and good for her for speaking about her loss.

I feel like you made it, are on your way to making it, to the promise land. You give me hope, even with your big chasm of a belly. Especially with the belly.


peesticksandstones said...

Wow... thank you for sharing this story. What an experience that must've been!

It's usually hard for me to read about peoples' pregnancies, and I rarely comment on blogs when pregnancies are happening -- but I am always thinking about you all, wishing I could express my best wishes. But, being on the other side of the belly, I'm often scared to do so.

Jen said...

Oh Katie, that is just heartbreaking. Handling these situations is so impossible. I think you did your best, and as much as you'd like you can't change the past.

There is a gal I work with and adore who is in her 40's and childless. After I got pregnant, I sensed that she too had wanted children but couldn't have them. Sure enough she shared with me how she had done IVF but none of the 3 embryos took. I hardly knew what to say. Life is just so unfair.

Antigone said...

You've come so far. We're all cheering for you. Even those of us with the grim smiles.

Mazzy said...

And well, now I am crying, too.
There are no right words, no right approach to that situation, but I think you handled it beautifully.
Sometimes we just need to let it out, and maybe that's what she needed today.
NEVER stop commenting on me, please. You are my hope, my encouragement! Knowing there is another side to this world is the driving force behind my decision to keep trying.

In Search of Morning Sickness said...

I can only say, at least you spoke to her and let her know you were coming from a similar place. You can't take away her hurt - it's just there. And you're a reminder. But hopefully looking at you and thinking of it can somehow be a light of hope for her, as she remembers you said you'd lost "babies" - not singular, plural. Yet you continued to try.
I hate this. I hate the pain. I of course still feel like I can relate, but I don't have the baby bump that would draw the attention yet.
Thank you for reaching over the chasm, whether in real life or through the blogs. It means something, a lot really.

Chastity said...

It's a really weird position to be go from being on one side of the fence to the other so quickly...there's no real transition time. I understand when certain people avoid me because I'm pregnant, b/c I've been there. Sometimes it hurts a little, but it hurts a lot more when you're still in the trenches.

Polka Dot said...

I think you handled it the best you could. Being here, having been here, doesn't necessarily mean we'll know what to say to someone when we're on the other side of that line. What I do know is that she's lucky she talked to you - I have no doubt that your experiences (as awful as they were)helped you understand something a first time "woops" pregnant woman never could. And chances are it helped her know she's not alone.

Anonymous said...

I think you did the best thing you could have in that situatin. You acknowledged her pain. You know her pain. I am sure she felt that, too.

Mrs. Piggy said...

ok that story makes me want to burst into tears.
i remember being that person...and like you said, i AM one of those pregnant women now that do crazy things such as rub their belly
i feel guilty everytime i do it and try to keep those things in private
that is just so incredibly sad....oh my!!!! you said all the right things though...

HereWeGoAJen said...

I think you said the right things. The worst thing about these losses is that there really isn't anything better to say because they don't make sense.

Fat Girl said...

I think "I'm sorry" is really the only thing you can say. If you try to say anything else you never know how it will be interpretted. I do hope that poor woman has found some support. I'm sure I would have cried too.

Kristen said...

I know exactly what you mean about commenting. It is so hard to give advice when you second guess yourself and how it could be misconstrued. I am guilty of the same thing - turning away rather than even attempting to pick apart my thoughts and determine what would be acceptable.

Your story is so amazing. I think you did all you could do. She will find some way to get through the pain, just as we all have who have suffered losses. I'm sure it did make her feel better to know that you were a part of the IF club and not someone who got knocked up without trying. XOXO

Searching said...

I'm sorry is really all you CAN say. I'm glad you were able to talk to her, if only for a moment, let her know she's not alone. Let her know there is hope out there. I will keep her in my prayers tonight.

Debby said...

and now i'm crying too.

Adriane said...

This post made me cry. We've all been that lady at Starbucks. Maybe not with a loss so great, but with our own IF issues. I think you handled it perfectly - we know from being on the other side, there is not much anyone can say to make it better.

I'm glad you are becoming a normal pregnant woman, though - glowing and rubbing your belly. That is how it's supposed to be. You won't ever forget the past, but you shouldn't feel bad for enjoying the present moment. I pray for all the ladies at Starbucks - I really do. I hope it's her turn someday soon.

JuliaS said...

Dh and I were just talking about this very thing today. We were out driving and drove past the home of friends who had moved. They were married a couple years before us and never had children - though they did try. I wondered aloud how they were doing in their new place and told dh I always felt badly for them. I knew what it could be like - going to church with the "happy happy" families and the pg ladies. But mostly it was because of her eyes and knowing what I saw there - because I saw it so many times in my own eyes and felt what was behind it.

I hope the lady took away something helpful in your encounter with her. Sometimes I think we end up in certain places at certain times because of certain people who need a certain something at just the right moment. Kind of like a Karmic hug.

Samantha said...

"I'm sorry, I understand, that sucks" are really about the best words you can say in that situation.

I'm always glad to see your comments.

Amy said...

Oh Katie, I don't think there is anything else to say but I'm sorry. Although, knowing that you've been there helps for IRL people I'm sure.

Please, ALWAYS comment on my side, I still love to hear from you and see how you are doing and BTW, your tum is beautiful.

Joy said...

I have seen "that look" many, many times as well. I see it when I'm in stores with my toddling children, too, not just pregnancy. Mostly it is young women in their 20s, maybe 30s. The tight lips, the barely there fake smile, the sorrow-filled eyes, the way their entire body tenses... I look a LOT younger than I am, so I think they feel as though, "How is this young teen able to have children?" when in fact I'm in my 20s.

Hopefully in all of that, you have given that woman hope. Or at least shown her that not every pregnant woman achieved her pregnancy so easily and they've been down the dark road she's on too! It does leave an icky, empty feeling, though, doesn't it? *HUGS*

Meg said...

You are an incredibly strong woman. People like you remind me not to be so upset at the big glowing bellies anymore, as I have no clue what it took for them to get there.

Thanks for sharing this.