It was the weekend I was waiting to learn the results of my CVS. That weekend I had two baby “sprinkles” to attend. Small little gatherings to celebrate pregnant friends who were having their second or third child. A smaller form of a baby shower. No one knew I was pregnant, let alone pregnant with a potentially complicated baby. One of the sprinkles was for a colleague- they had been told I was “out sick” the day I had my CVS, so I let them know the truth. It was an easy conversation with them, all midwives, because I didn’t have to explain that a 1/3 chance of something being “wrong” was not a good chance. They all knew what those numbers meant. They all knew what stillbirth, trisomies and birth defects meant to a midwife.
The second sprinkle was for a friend. I thought it was going to be me, her and another friend. When I showed up, they told me two more were coming. I took that moment, before the others came, to tell them I was pregnant. Before I could get the words out about my situation, they were squealing and hugging me. I had to tell them glumly, thank you but it might not turn out ok. I explained about the abnormal testing and how I was waiting for the results. They understood. And shortly after, the two others arrived. The first was a friend of the sprinkle recipient, who I knew and she is very nice. But I wasn’t expecting her to walk in big and pregnant too. I might have known, but I had certainly forgotten. It knocked the wind out me. And the final guest was someone I hadn’t met and she walked in with a relatively new baby. The one other person there without kids, my friend who I had just told about my circumstances, leaned over and whispered to me “is this a nightmare for you?” Yes. I was glad to have her there. She got it.
I spent much of the brunch sprinkle talking to that friend, letting the other three women talk about families and babies. But there was one point when the women with the baby in her arms started talking, almost tearfully, about how hard it was having two kids so close together, how she wished she had waited a little longer before having another. I couldn’t take it. I thought about me who would love to have just one baby in my arms, let alone two. I thought about people who struggle with infertility. I finally piped up and said, trying to put as polite and positive spin on it as possible, “At least you have two kids. I know my sister wishes she could have another child close in age to her daughter but it hasn’t happened yet.” I threw my sister out there instead of me thinking I might come across less snotty. I don’t remember her response, but she did quickly get up to go to the bathroom. I’m pretty sure she went there to cry. I had such mixed feelings about it. I definitely felt bad I made her cry. She probably had postpartum depression. I even apologized to the guest of honor, saying I think I made your friend cry and I’m sorry about that. But I couldn’t apologize to this new mom. I stood by my statement. Everyone has her own battles, but a little perspective might be nice. We don’t know the complicated lives of those we are talking to. I could have had five miscarriages. I could have lost a baby. I could have no partner and be wishing for one so I could start a family.
My words might be truer than I even know. This woman could have a very complicated life. She could have a troubled home life. She could have a parent dying of cancer. She could be bankrupt. I don’t know. But at the time I just wanted to scream, look at all the good you have!
Some could say the same for me- be happy with what you have. Yes, I have a loving partner, a good job, stable finances, supportive family and kind friends. I have the ability to get pregnant and the experience of pregnancy. I have the hope that I might get pregnant in the future. These are things I am grateful for everyday. But I have also buried a child-my only child. All these wonderful things will not bring my baby back. They can not fill the hole in my life that was meant for Mabel. I want that woman to know that I was saying those words worried about the fate of my unborn baby. I want her know that my worries came true. I want her to know I still think about that day. I want her to know that I might have seemed mean and insensitive, but it was for a reason. I want her to know I said those words while thinking of the 1 in 3 chance than my baby would have a trisomy, have a major birth defect or die. I want her to know that I had a baby and she died. I want her to know I held a baby in my arms too, but I held mine as she took her last breaths. I guess I just want her to know my complicated life.