Upon returning from vacation, I can’t tell you how sad I was to receive a text from my sister in reference to the impending arrival of my niece saying, “I wanted her to come while you were away so I wouldn’t have to have the awkward phone call where I tell you I’m in labor. You don’t have to come…this is just to tell you I don’t want you to feel like you have to be there.”
Of course, I was much more content at the notion of witnessing her delivery when I was pregnant. Of course I was. But even after my loss, I did not for one second consider missing the birth of this baby. I watched my nephew being born. I watched my first niece being born. Despite everything, it remains the coolest, most awe-inspiring thing I’ve ever witnessed. And I can tell you that when you’re watching a new life enter this world, all the other shit falls away (for me, at least). My niece Addison was born in June of 2011, so we had already been diagnosed as infertile. It didn’t matter. The last thing I was thinking about during her delivery was myself. I know that’s hard to imagine, but it’s true. I knew this time, with everything that has happened, it would be exponentially harder. But I also knew that years from now, when I had kids of my own, I would regret missing it. So I went. And I knew that if tears were rolling down my face, they could be for the beauty of the moment, for the unfairness of the world, for my babies in heaven, for the hope I’m still feeling, or for all of the above. Yes… for all of the above. (And when I didn’t end up crying at all, that was OK, too).
When I got the text that she was experiencing contractions, I didn’t feel jealous or sad or angry. I felt excited. Even I was surprised by this. I don’t know why I fly into a jealous rage at sonogram pictures from distant acquaintances on Facebook, but I was not at all jealous of my sister who was literally about to give birth. It makes no sense. Maybe its because while I can imagine perfect lives for these random Facebook friends who I don’t really know, I don’t have such fantasies about my sister’s life. She is just 23 and has three children. Her son Aiden is (not yet officially diagnosed but most likely) on the autism spectrum. She has also suffered the pain of miscarriage. She struggles with the daily challenges that many of us women struggle with – money, self-esteem, emotional roller coasters. I’m jealous that she gets pregnant so easily, sure, but I’m not so jealous of her that I can’t tolerate being in her presence. I was truly, genuinely excited about her baby coming.
When I was 23, I was still making bad decisions on extended weekend beach trips with my best girlfriends. I was still having a blast. My sister has a great life; she has a loving husband and beautiful children. But for me… I’m grateful for every experience that I’ve had. Having babies is my number one goal in life and it always has been. But number one doesn’t mean it’s my only goal. There’s so much else that’s important to me. And deep down in my deepest of deep heart of hearts, I really think I’m going to have a baby one day. Somehow. I really and truly believe it. Maybe this whole experience proved that.
I think one of the biggest problems with
Fertilebook, ahem, Facebook is that we only see that small sliver of what people want us to see. It’s easy to envision all these preggo biatches having picture-perfect lives even when we know they don’t. To date, there’s only one person on my Facebook friend list who seems to actually have the perfect life. I keep meaning to delete her but hey… I already said I’m a masochist.
Wow, I went off on a tangent there. Back to the matter at hand. Baby was coming. I was excited. But maybe I was also internalizing complex feelings. I was irrationally irritated at the fact that a cute baby in the nursery had a ridiculous, stupid name (which I hesitate to share in case it’s a name that one of you has picked out. But seriously, for the sake of your future children, I hope not). I kept drifting in and out of daydreaming, and yes, imagining how different it would be if I had still been pregnant. My sister’s best friend was there and we kept discussing her future labor and delivery (she’s engaged, not currently pregnant), but delicately avoided discussing it for me. Or maybe it wasn’t intentional and I’m just being overly sensitive. I know I acted like the whole thing didn’t phase me, and for the most part, it didn’t. But that baby with the stupid name. Yeah, that was frustrating. My baby would never have a stupid name.
My sister should be the poster child for childbirth, though if she was I think women would have unrealistic expectations. Sure, it took 2 days of contractions and she checked into the hospital ten hours before the baby was born. But she had an epidural, which slows things considerably. Once we got to “push time,” she literally pushed twice, smiled hugely in between, and casually brought up another unrelated topic ten minutes after Avery was born. It was like she just accomplished something on her to-do list and was on to the next thing. It’s her third, yes, but I still found it rather impressive.
I contemplated posting a photo, but ultimately decided against it. I know it’s hard for some of you to see. Know that my niece is a beautiful, healthy baby girl and I truly hope to give her an equally adorable cousin one day. One day soon. Please, let it be soon.