Last night I was having a conversation with the male half of a couple I know about their difficulty in conceiving. Being somewhat of an expert of that myself, I commiserated about how much pressure there is in society to have a child - people are constantly asking about your babymaking timeline and such. Then inevitably, when a certain amount of time goes by and conception is not achieved, how the romance and the privacy gets sucked out of the whole process by lab tests and doctors and large withdrawals of cash from your bank account. Time marches on and you begin to think about just how much your life will change - YOU KNOW (at least intellectually) just how much your life will change by observing your friends' life with their children and you start to wonder, am I crazy or what? I can sleep in and stay out late and travel at a moment's notice and go to the gym whenever I want, skip grocery shopping and order in, have long phone conversations, etc. How badly do I want a child?
I know what he doesn't know yet. When you start down that IVF path - the needles, the meds, the blood draws, the visits to the dirty old man room - you want very badly to succeed. It's a little like training for the Olympics, you get there and the whole world is watching you run. They show you the bliss and the triumph on the winning athlete's face, but what about the one who didn't even place? Maybe an awkward interview where the athlete smiles and tries to put on a brave face as they say, not this time but it was an honour to even be there. Maybe next time.
For his sake, for his wife's sake, I hope they don't have to go down that road and if they do, I hope they get the desired result.
On another note, I was reading the August issue of O magazine and came across an excerpt of a book by Elizabeth McCracken, "This Does Not Have to Be a Secret". It's about the stillbirth of her first son. It was so poignant and so moving. What stood out for me was that out of her grief came this amazing compassion to let others know that they weren't alone.
She talked about how she loved being pregnant and how happy her and her husband were expecting their first child. I admit I felt a bit nostalgic for something I had never experienced. Nostalgic - is that the right word for it? Wistful? I don't know. It seemed like such a intimate experience, devoid of outside intervention. No lab tests, no clinics, no lawyers, no paperwork. She talked about how she received so many notes of condolences and how it made her son's life real and valid, even in his passing before he was born.
She did eventually go on to become pregnant a second time and delivered another boy, yet she never forgot about his older brother. She didn't forget what it was like to lose a child even when she had another child in her lap.
I'm glad she wrote that story - on behalf of the women who know that kind of grief. It's nice to know that you're not alone. We are all connected, whether we realize it or not.