I went to a baby shower today. This was a big thing. A month ago I felt certain I wouldn’t be able to go. A week ago I felt certain I wouldn’t be able to go. But then my friend H2 (because there’s an H1) called and asked if I wanted to go to the baby store with her. I knew she was shopping for the baby shower. H2 has been trying for 8 years, miscarried last year and is about to go in for her 3rd laparoscopy. Shit, I thought. Shit, if H2 can do it, I can do it. So I went to the baby store with her. We picked up our gifts and had tea and discussed our next fertility moves: both trying for another round of IUI in March. I’m more hopeful than she is – willing to at least entertain the possibility that we might both be pregnant in April; she’s just going through the motions. I know that statistically, it’s insanely unlikely that it would work for both of us…but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible.
She has a three year old son that she has adopted. We talk about adoption sometimes. I know that I want to do it at some point. We talk about not wanting to do it as a second choice, how we both wanted to have our own first and then choose to adopt. She talks about how she’d wanted to do it in that order so that people wouldn’t pity her, wouldn’t see her son as less than perfect and chosen. But sometimes your first dream isn’t the one you get.
And I talk about how I’m preparing myself to change my dream at the end of this year. One more year of trying, then shifting my hope in another direction. Because I can’t live waiting.
And so, today, I knew I’d be going to the baby shower. To celebrate with the friend I’d been pregnant with. Knowing that I should be 6 months pregnant right now. Praying and willing myself into a better place. Focusing on how I truly was happy for her. How I knew how long she had wanted this. How after a shitty childhood and seven years in a bad marriage before meeting the right guy, she deserved this. But still I cried. I cried while wrapping the gift and writing the card. I cried in the shower, and I cried a little on the way there (but less, since I had mascara on by that point).
I thought about H2 and how she didn’t want to be pitied. About how she didn’t want her friends to see her as the barren one. I thought about H1 and how the first time I let that B word slip off my lips, she gently asked me if I could never use it again, if I could go ahead and not label myself with that word. And I decided that that was why I could go to the shower. Because I am not a woman to be pitied.
For some reason today I can believe this, so I’m writing it down. I am not to be pitied. I am not the barren one. I have love to give, and I will give it, whether it’s dream 1, 2 or 10. I can find new dreams. I’m not beholden to the old ones, and their absence will not destroy me.
And sometimes the day is just not about you, you know. It turned out my baby-having friend’s mother had decided, once again, that it was more important to get drunk than to engage in her daughter’s life and was conspicuously missing. That the host’s baby had had a seizure earlier in the day and was at the hospital during the event.
Yes, it was hard for me to be there. Yes, I was terrified when I somehow ended up sitting right next to her when she opened her gifts (so that I couldn’t shy away from being looked at or discreetly duck out of the room). Yes, it cut me to the core to see a new baby bump in the room and to know that I had most likely been intentionally not told about it. And to know that likely these two friends were sharing the experiences that I would have been sharing if things had been different. And I don’t think the baby-having friend will ever know just how hard it was for me to get there and to stay there. But I know that I love her, and that it meant a lot to me that I was was able to fight my demons and show up when her mother couldn’t, and that counts for something.
So I did it. I survived my first baby shower. And I will survive my due date. And I will survive my 2-week wait after my next IUI. And I will survive whatever that brings.
And Eli, I promise you that whatever happens I will find a way to not be barren. I will find new dreams. I will find outlets for my love and not care if or how they are seen.