Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What's the test?

I don't know what it is. I've been through the test and I still can't say what it is definitively (for other people, at least - I am slightly more versed in my own circumstance). I'm talking about the long journey to conceive, whether first time, second, or fifth time round.

There are so many things that are relevant or situation-specific, first off. A year to one person would be a drop in the ocean to someone else. Someone waiting three months to conceive could almost be waved off by another who might have been trying already for two years. This is a given, sure.

But at the heart of it, the way I see it and after going through the particular path we have (so far), is the fact that in the waiting itself there is a lesson. Perhaps several. In the yearning, more lessons. It is the kind of thing that reshapes a person, the longer it draws out - and this could be looked on as being fantastic or tragic. Or, if you're like me, you can oscillate between moments of great calm and clarity, and sheer blinding fury at having to go through it again and again and again.

Now, for one person their test could be as "simple" as learning the virtue of patience. One might think "yes but how can X have learned any patience when she stamped her feet and it 'only' took her six months? I've been waiting three years, how can that be fair?" But we don't really know that person, what makes them tick, how deeply it has truly changed their view of the world and how they used to see things. I believe it has been quite short-sighted of me to take the proverbial peek over the fence at my neighbours and make assumptions based only on what I am being told and what I think I am seeing - but really, I don't know about that person at all, what their tolerance level is, how close or far the breaking point in their struggle to conceive has been. The point is, we're all on different journeys because we are all individual (yes... we're all individual).

It seems to be viewed as normal to fall pregnant instantly/easily, where anything under twelve months is viewed as 'normal' (and another question for another time might be, who is the medical profession to say that twelve months is okay, for every woman everywhere?). Is that really the norm? I know I personally have come across women in these past several years who are utterly surprised and shocked by my journey and moreso, by how long it has taken. Some even recoil (I must remember not to even brush arms with those ones, this miscarriage bizzo is contagious, didn't you know). But actually, I don't think it's that unusual. The only unusual thing is that I finally came across a place where others who were having a very long road of it had found a place and come together to share their experiences in support of one another. Having these people collected in one (of obviously many) place surprised me at first, because while I was going through my own losses, the 'support' around me at the time collectively implied I should pull my head in and not speak about it, or certainly not express myself thoroughly anyway. I was the odd one out here, I would have to just deal with it (and certainly not "make more" of it than they cared to try and understand).

It's funny, people always wanted to know if I was pregnant. I would regularly be asked by various acquaintances, "So, you pregnant yet?" But they never really wanted to hear about the aftermath of a miscarriage (both physical and emotional effects) and because that happened with some frequency, they eventually stopped asking at all. I gather they were uncomfortable with my answer - but it was apparently okay for them to be asking initially and causing me to feel uncomfortable with the line of questioning. So why was it alright for them to ask but not okay for me to go into any detail once the pregnancy failed? It's akin to being told not to mention your deceased child because it "makes people feel uncomfortable" (and no, this has not been said to me but, yes, probably not surprisingly it has been requested of some people I know).

Today, I find it one of the most sensitive and probing of all questions I could be asked - and I'm still asked fairly regularly - that of "so when are you going to have another one?" As if they are talking about pulling a Kleenex from the box. As if Ella, somehow, was also as dispensable. "Another one". My long answer involves explaining to them that we both, Steve and I, need to be mentally prepared (and me physically) to endure another miscarriage, each time we conceive, and this will never change for us. That each time, we face the long wait to find out just what may be 'wrong' with our baby until it is safely born - if it makes it that far - and cord blood taken to determine its genetic makeup. That's harrowing in itself, a longer nine months than I'd like to sign up for again in a hurry.

And now, of course, it is different again. "Next time", if we are so granted, we now have a little powerhouse of a Blissbomb to contend with. I thought, until just recently, that I owed her every skerrick of time and energy I had in me. I was making up for lost time, was making it up to her big sister, was flogging myself to enjoy every moment and regret nothing. So when those sorts of thoughts crept in occasionally, I actually went through quite consisent bouts of depression, really dogging myself for being so damn "ungrateful". As if it was that clear cut. If anyone knew I was down, if I tried to describe to them just why I was feeling so down on myself for not feeling blessed, they just told me to feign it, get on with it and that I ought to be happy now because I had the LGBB. It's somehow not as easy to do as they might have liked to think.

But I digress.

I was asking what the test was. I think it's as long as a piece of string. I think part of the struggle is that one can sometimes square up their own situation against others and ask about the unfairness of why it's taken so long, or why there has been such heartache, on one's individual path. I know I started out, for the first four years, believing I was just duty-bound to trudge it. I had little to no contact with anyone else who was struggling as well, so there was scarce choice but to just keep my head down and battle on. I know I am extremely thankful to have come to an understanding of why it happened the particular way it did for us. It has ultimately changed who I am as a person, and I grieved the loss of me as I knew me from the minute Ella passed away. I'm not entirely sure who the new me is yet (am still getting to know that new person) nor whether I'm so happy about that part. I am, basically, a work in progress as are we all. But at the end of the day I do know I am a lot more useful in this lifetime with the experiences that I've had, rather than it all happening smoothly. That wasn't ever in my stars, not that I knew it before it all played out, and I do hope I have passed the test - because otherwise, it means I have to resit it.


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