[Creative Non-Fiction] Such Things
I had forgotten.
I don’t know how I had forgotten.
But I had.
That’s always the way with such a thing, isn’t it? You can’t possibly see it every day, but you can’t possibly part with it. So you tuck it away in a safe place – sometimes, so safe that you manage to forget about it all together.
There it stays, undisturbed in the cool dark, until, perhaps, an exceptionally thorough spring clean or, in this case, a move. Poking around in a bureau drawer, just beyond the last pair of socks, I felt it: the onesie outfit, newborn size.
The Dilaudid was already doing its job. As the nurse wheeled the gurney down the hospital-cold hallway, the overhead fluorescents entered my consciousness between long blinks.
Like all newborn outfits, it’s ridiculously adorable: a white, long-sleeved onesie with a single grey snowflake in the middle of the chest, paired with candy cane striped pants.
Clothes for a winter baby.
“We’re going to move you to the table. You don’t need to do anything. Let us do all the work,” Gurney Pusher said.
A mask suddenly covered my nose and mouth.
“Count backward from ten,” instructed the Gas Man.
But it wasn’t to be a winter baby.
It was to be a fall baby.
The outfit had been given to me as a gift.
But the appropriate season for it doesn’t matter now.
Because the baby was never born.
Ten days after I found out I was expecting, I was no longer. Expecting.
“Tickle her feet.” My eyelids were still too heavy to lift, but the sound of my mom’s voice recalled my awareness. The procedure had taken just over an hour.
I tucked away the adorable outfit, newborn size; in the back corner of that bureau drawer, I put the single tangible piece of my greatest Hope and Dream. There it had stayed, through thirteen years and two subsequent relationships.
Wear warm socks, even during summer. The stirrups are unfailingly cold, so always wear warm socks.
Each table I mounted was attended by a doctor with more letters after their name than the last.
If you want to make someone feel uncomfortable, talk about your infertility. At best, it makes people feel uncomfortable. At worst, it makes people feel like jerks for having the accidental luxury of not even needing to consider what it’s like. Both options inevitably lead to pity, which is helpful neither to the pitier nor the pitied. Also, nobody normal wants to make someone feel uncomfortable. So you just don’t talk about your infertility.
Hysterosalpingogram: a fluoroscopic study of the uterus and fallopian tubes,
undertaken in order to determine structural impediments to pregnancy, carried
out by injecting dye via the cervix.
People generally feel free to ask intrusive questions and offer unsolicited advice about how to get pregnant, how to be pregnant, and how to parent. If there’s any indication of a fertility struggle, people will often joke in order to ease discomfort — let me be clear here: in order to ease their discomfort, not yours. Attempt to engage in a genuine conversation about pregnancy loss and infertility, and a conversation that began as A Tad Awkward immediately becomes Completely Intolerable.
Manifold blood draws
Camera wand, condomed and inserted in a place a camera was never intended.
At the core of the matter is that we can’t handle other people’s discomfort. Bearing witness to someone else’s grief and pain is simply something most of us have never learned to do in a constructive, meaningful way. This is completely understandable on a cognitive level. And this is completely untenable on a social and emotional level.
To this point, a dear friend once sent me a text message that said, “Sometimes, to be kind to others, you have to leave a hole in yourself.” I read it, too quickly, as, “Sometimes, to be kind to others, you have to be an asshole to yourself.” Turns out, my read was spot on.
Follicle stimulating injections
Protracted infertility is not only the loss of actual or desired children; it is the irreparable alteration of a life’s trajectory. Though the inability to produce children usually has a physical root, the implications are actually almost entirely social. Romantic relationships are upended. Friendships are frayed. Families of origin are fraught with tension. Finances are decimated.
One in eight women faces infertility at some point in their lives. Nobody ever thinks these statistics will apply to them. I didn’t. Until they did. Apply to me. I am one of the One in Eight. I am a statistical probability.
Beta. Factor. Negative.
I haven’t forgotten.
I don’t know how I could forget.
That’s always the way with such a thing, isn’t it?
Amy Lauren-not-Farrah Fowler hails from Lawrence, KS, a dot of blue in a sea of red. She makes her home with her partner, Stacy, his two children, one surly Boston Terrier, and one Scruffy Mutt. Amy pays the bills interpreting between American Sign Language and English, and doing Cued Language Transliteration. When not playing with the kids and dogs she’s attending concerts in the KC area. Amy blogs at “Raising Someone Else’s Children, and Other Animals,” which is hosted on WordPress.