This weekend was a good reminder for me of a) how far we've come; and b) that I'm still an infertile in my heart and mind. It was a big weekend! We took our birthing class! It was very helpful, and also pretty scary. I guess I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about the actual physical pain of childbirth. This is pretty lame, but I think I spent more time obsessing over how painful the HSG would be (and in the end, it was not so bad) back when I was having my infertility tests than I did over how painful labor would be. Anyway, we watched several videos in this class showing women in labor. Obviously pain is a subjective experience, but it's very different for a friend to tell you "it really hurt" than it is to watch a woman in the midst of labor and think "that looks really painful."
So, one of the things that happened in birthing class was that we all went around the room and introduced ourselves, talked about pregnancies, where we were delivering, etc. There were 8 couples, including us. I feel fairly confident that Jeeves and I were the only infertile couple in the room. Not entirely sure why I'm so convinced, some of the couples said things that an infertile would not say, some of them seemed very young (not like I don't know plenty of young people struggling with infertility, but they seemed like such reproductive novices by certain things that they said). Oh, and one of the couples didn't know she was pregnant till she was 14 weeks. So yeah, definitely not an infertile. I guess that makes sense that we would be the only infertiles - after all, it's 1 in 8, right? But I still felt a bit weird, hanging around these fertile couples like I was one of them. I mean, I am having a baby. But gosh, getting to this class was a very different experience for us than it probably was for them. I've stopped telling everyone I meet that we had to do ART to have a baby - most people don't seem to know what to say or seem not to care or seem uncomfortable. But I also feel like a little bit of a fraud, pretending I'm some sort of normal pregnant person.
Adding to this experience - we found out this weekend that friends of ours are expecting at the end of September. In January, the husband in the couple told Jeeves that he and the wife were going to start trying and hoped to have a baby in 2014. Jeeves and I sort of snorted at the hubris. When we started trying back in 2012, we didn't tell anyone, because what if it took a long time? Well, apparently at the point that the husband told Jeeves that they had started trying, they were already pregnant (they just didn't know yet). That's right, first month out of the gate.
We had dinner with them this weekend, and they are definitely a little out of their depth. I felt badly for her. She has so much fear. She has as much fear as I did, she has as much fear as women who have had multiple miscarriages, but none of that has happened to her. She told me about her mother (she's an only child) who had multiple miscarriages and a stillbirth before she was finally able to have my friend. She told me about other people she knows who have experienced pregnancy loss, and about how she hears horrible stories through her work (she works at a hospital). I said to her, "And you think that if such terrible things happened to those people, why shouldn't they happen to you? Because you're not any better than they are?" She nodded. I pointed out that at the point she is at (16 weeks), yes, bad things can still happen, but the likelihood is very low, and that hopefully once she starts feeling the baby move, she will start to relax a little. And hey, we all know fairness has nothing to do with this. Sometimes people get pregnant right away and never have a miscarriage. Sometimes it takes someone years and years and hundreds of thousands of dollars and they will never have a living child.
I admitted to Jeeves last night that while I did not wish infertility on these friends, and I think it's great that they are having a baby, I still feel bitterness when people I know become pregnant right away without any struggle. He understood. I'm not sure if that feeling will ever really go away. Oh, don't get me wrong, I still enjoy talking to fertiles about their kids and what not, and it was pleasant to swap stories and anxieties with my fertile friend, but I still felt that twinge of "Well, isn't that just lovely for them! It's not fair it's not fair it's not fair!" when I first heard they were expecting. Getting pregnant has healed a lot, but it will probably never heal that.
After our birthing class (which was located in our old neighborhood), we had some time to kill before meeting our friends for dinner. We walked over to the park in our old neighborhood. This is the park where I used to pick up our CSA veggies last summer. As you may or may not recall, last summer, in June, I had a D&C for my missed miscarriage, and then took the summer off from treatment while we awaited the results of karyotyping and blood clotting disorders. There were a lot of fun things last summer that go along with not doing treatment (all the iced coffee and wine I could drink!), but it was also a summer that was sad and painful. One of the things that made it hard was that every week when I would go to the park to pick up our veggie and fruit share, there would be hundreds of adorable screaming children running around on the playground right by the pick up stand. And so many of the other share members were women with babies. Or pregnant women. It was rough. But it really was a beautiful park.
So, we went to the park, and the huge grassy expanse is currently a giant dirt patch. I guess the polar vortex got to it. It was a beautiful day, and Jeeves and I sat on a bench and watched the little kids run around, screaming and playing. Something that a year ago caused me a lot of pain was just a really happy, joyful sight. It made me feel excited for the life inside me, and for once it didn't make me feel like The Other, the person who does not belong. I'm sure I will have moments after Manuji is born where I will not relate to other parents, either because I have a different philosophy, or because I'm infertile. I'm sure it will sting when people ask if we're going to have more kids. But it's also amazing to see how much he has already healed me, and he's not even here yet.