I asked a best friend to go with me to register at two stores. She has had multiple children, and I just knew she would be able to guide me in my selections. And I was right! It was awesome having her there! We went to Target and she decided to register, also, as she is pregnant right now. I was actually really excited. And, honestly, it was fun! I have always dreamed of registering with a friend, being pregnant with a friend. We giggled as we both scanned the same things. If only we had a camera to document this unique time in our lives! It truly was a fun experience. (I'll explain where my emotions went south after I describe the next two instances.)
I then went that night to a couples' home who just had a baby, their third. They are new friends of ours, and Jason really wanted to go. He and the husband work together and are very close. Now, this was the first time I have faced a newborn "head on" in a very long time. I even bought a cute gift that day, packaged it up, bought a card, and gave it to them! All things I have not been able to do in years (I always ask someone else to buy and give the gifts). I held this gorgeous 6-day old infant all night and did not cry (openly) once! I smiled and congratulated them and didn't wish them pain (you know, the kind I've had to experience)....I'm growing here, people!! (Again, I'll explain where it all went wrong soon....)
The next day I went to my niece's birthday party. I refuse to miss any of my beautiful nieces' birthday parties if I can help it. And I enjoyed it! She was happy and adorable and I can't believe she is 4! It was overall a good time. Then, I got in the car, and proceeded to cry...
...and my first words to Jason as we drove home were, "I feel like a failure." I explained, sobbing, "I can't give you that. I just can't do it." And then cried for about an hour, off and on. So, what happened you might ask? Well, let's start at the beginning - the registering. The infertile woman in me reared her ugly head, as I'm assuming she will always and forever do on occasion. What I was not letting myself feel during those moments of fun was all the pain that was also there. I noticed that my friend was able to name her registry after her baby (mine was just named "Faith and Jason's Baby Stuff"). She was also able to put a real due date, not some made-up one because the registry forces you to enter one. She avoided awkward comments at the registry counter because she looked like she was really expecting ( I won't go into the comments I got). And, lastly, she was able to pick out things with her real baby in mind. I had to pick out gender neutral things, and things that any baby would need, because I really had no idea who, what, when, where or how my baby would come to me. My baby is not real. I am not really expecting at all.
Then, I picked out a baby gift and card for another mom with a real baby. I went to her house and held her baby. I watched as her baby cried for her and ate hungrily when mommy came to the rescue. I listened as the daddy proudly talked about how strong mommy was and how she "bounced back" so easily. I saw how happy he was kissing his new baby girl - he was literally giddy with love and pride! And it occurred to me, I cannot make my husband, nor any of my family members, that happy or that proud. I cannot do what she does so easily. I just can't.
Then I went to my niece's birthday party and again saw a relaxed family, happily expecting another child. I saw them celebrate their child's day with ease. I saw from the outside what it would be like to not have life spit in your face, and kick you when you are down. I saw a glimpse of the happiness we could have had, if only our babies had lived and we hadn't experienced grief so deep, I can't even find the bottom. And, I realized, I may never be that relaxed, that carefree.
All of this made me feel like a failure, like a "less than." I am less than truly expecting, as I cannot carry a baby to term and am now "expecting" a baby who may or may not even exist yet. I am less than a perfect wife, because I cannot give my husband the joy of a biological child, of watching me give birth, of just being able to have things go smoothly and be relaxed in his home and in his life, as I saw other couples be able to do this weekend. I cannot explain the energy, but they were just more carefree, less heavy. Our losses weigh us down, and that is my fault. I just keep losing our babies. I am less than a perfect daughter or daughter-in-law because I can't give our families the biological grandchildren they have always dreamed of. I am less than a real woman because I can't even get pregnant - our most basic task in this life.
Jana Wolff writes in her book, "Secret Thoughts of an Adoptive Mother," that she went on a shopping trip to buy baby things with her mother when she was expecting her child, by way of his first mom. About this trip, she writes, " Motherhood was becoming more real to me, not by virtue of a swelling belly, but with a growing accumulation of baby stuff. I sensed the slightest whiff of pity from our baby-store guide and wondered if these gifts represented a dream come true for me, or a dream that didn't come true. Every thought of this baby to come was also a reminder of the baby that never came."
So true. Every step in this journey holds hope and grief, and I've been denying the grief. Mostly because I desperately want to be done with the grief. But wanting something so badly doesn't make it so. What I have to try to do is reconcile what I lost with what is to come. And, honestly, I don't think what we lost will ever leave us. I don't think we'll ever have such a carefree and "light" energy as those other couples have. Our children will not come to us easily, effortlessly. And, at least for me, I think that will always stick with me, for better or for worse. For now, I have to figure out how to be ok with being less than a real expectant mom, less than a perfect wife and less than a perfect, reproducing daughter. I also have to figure out how to fall in love with a less than real baby. I just don't know how to do all of this right now, I really don't. So, I cry...especially in the still, quiet moments....I cry.