Friday, April 07, 2006

Why I wrote the previous post

Obviously, with my two children, I am not the stereotype of a woman who has problems conceiving or staying pregnant. I have often wished that those of us who know how those things feel had some sort of aura, or gang sign, or secret handshake so that we could recognize each other easily. Before I had my son, that wish grew out of my need to remember that I wasn't alone, that other people had miscarriages and still had healthy babies later. Now, it's different. I am acutely aware that almost anyone I see could be dealing with infertility or loss, and I have no desire to play the role of the clueless fertile, or the mom with two kids who has no idea how it feels.

Twice today, though, that has happened.

My daughter's preschool teacher, a dynamic woman who is 35 and about to get married, told me that she has fibroids and "every time" she's conceived, the fibroids grow aggressively and she loses the baby. She won't be able to have children and is looking at a hysterectomy sooner rather than later. I was reminded again (though perhaps "reminded" is the wrong word to use when something is rarely far from your thoughts) how over-the-moon lucky I was to have a healthy baby before our nightmares started. People who have miscarriages before having a healthy child are forced to mourn the loss of a specific pregnancy and, at the same time, confront the fear that they will never know how it feels to be a parent to a living child.

The second incident was when we went to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner tonight. The last time we had seen one particular server was several months ago, when he held our baby and told us that his wife was pregnant and he needed practice. He had been so earnest and excited and, well, cute. Tonight, he was startled to see how much our son had grown, and when we asked how much longer his wife had to go, he smiled a little and said, "She couldn't go through with it." I have no idea if that means that she miscarried or had an abortion. We were both effusive in telling him we were sorry, but I knew that he had no idea that we had any clue what he might have been feeling. He played with our son an amazing amount for someone who had dealt with either of those situations. I felt completely helpless and awkward, which I never expected to feel in such a situation.

I often think that when my kids are older, I'd like to find ways to help support families who have suffered miscarriages. One of our hospitals has a perinatal loss department that helped me quite a bit, and I'd like to go thorugh their training. Experiences like the ones I had today make me wonder, though, if I should. I have rarely felt so impotent and so obviously mom-ish. I have a strange fear of someone changing the secret handshake and not telling me.

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