So one of those times in the time-space continuum seems to be upon us. You know those times. The ones when it seems that every woman of child bearing age, her sister, her dog and her next door neighbor are all PREGNANT. When I was in the clutches of infertility and resulting despair and grief, I was often told that it was all in my head - that many people were pregnant all the time and I was just noticing it more. And I was made to believe I was crazy so many more times than I can count - because in our majority culture, grieving deeply and not hiding those yucky emotions = crazy. Yet, here we are. I have 2 sisters pregnant, 3 staff members at work pregnant, multiple friends pregnant (many of whom had miraculous "surprise!" pregnancies which packs an entirely different punch) and, yes, even people's pets are procreating successfully! I show up to group trainings out of town and 3 out of the 8 attendees are...yep, you guessed it, pregnant.
I have taken this opportunity to notice my reactions to all of this, now that I am on the other end of my struggles to conceive. Each time I get a pregnancy announcement, each time I walk into a room that holds multiple pregnant bellies, I notice. Immediately, I notice. What I don't experience, though, is that sinking feeling in my stomach that makes me feel like I have to throw up or that heavy pressure in my chest that threatens my ability to breathe. This suggests to me that those years of pain did not disappear. They are attached to my very being and are along for the ride and can rise to the surface at any given moment. But, when they do surface, they do not hold as much power. The whole process reminds me of a cut on my finger that I received about two months ago while cutting up vegetables with a newly sharpened Cutco knife (ouch!). It was so deep, bled like it could fill an ocean, and hurt like...well, a lot. My stomach turned and I felt dizzy and I cried against my will because the pain and fear was so so big. It healed slowly, with time and with careful application of medicine and bandaids. Today, you can barely see the scar. You have to look very closely. It has faded into the smoothness of the skin on my finger. Yet, when I move my finger a certain way or, God forbid, bang it on something - wow, the pain is there; not as intense as the day the knife sliced it open, but definitely there. So when I am bombarded with multiple pregnancy announcements and baby showers and births and generally all things baby, it is like banging the "cut" in my soul that resulted from so much loss and pain and I once again feel a dulled version of the searing grief.
What happens next, though, is what I find so intriguing. I immediately see my son's face in my mind. And then my daughter's. I instantaneously and uncontrollably feel my love for them in the pit of my stomach and in the depths of my heart. I remember that without the pain that led to my deepest wounds so far, I would not have them. That thought is too big to bear - and so I don't follow those memories much further. That must be healing. It is not erasing, or disappearing. It is healing. I think the expectation is that once we have our baby(ies), we no longer get to have feelings about pregnancy, babies, fertility, or loss. I'm here to tell ya', I have those feelings whether they are "permitted" or understood, or not. Only they have transformed in their meaning. They now serve as a reminder of the elasticity of my heart and the resilience of my soul. I am always in awe as I watch physical wounds heal over time. What a magical thing my body is to be able to do that! What a gift it is to know that our souls have the same power.
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