Oh yes, I am bitter. I know it's not healthy, but when you've gone through multiple pregnancy losses these calendar dates that I call "Lemon Dates" still creep up. By definition, these are the dates that "could have been." Everyone has these markers and once there is any chance of being pregnant the dates all pop up. When is my first ultrasound? When will first trimester be over? And of course, the most significant, when will this baby be due? So today is a lemon date. If my first IVF had not been ectopic, I would be due to give birth around now. You might say, "Why think of such pointless 'what ifs' when all it does is torture you?" So why does this phantom due date irk me more than the one coming in July for IVF#2 miscarriage? The explanation requires a back story.
How many of us have had the unfortunate experience of a friend getting pregnant so effortlessly while you wait at your fertility clinic for your next god damn blood test? I bet many of you out there, if not all of you, have a story to tell about this most unfortunate thorn in a friendship.
My story begins with IVF#1. There is a very distinctive kind of hope during your first time because it's all unknown territory. You have no IVF failures yet to jade you. There is the freedom to believe this will finally be the answer. So nothing can explain the joy and utter relief I felt when my first IVF resulted in a BFP. Nothing. However, it didn't last long. If you can imagine how high I got, you know how far I had to fall. The rest of the story unfolds in a disastrous mess of betas not rising, taking a chemotherapy drug called Methotrexate to basically kill off the growing embryo, and living like I was a time bomb, fearing my fallopian tube would rupture at any moment and I would bleed to death. It took 15 gut-wrenching, devil-spawning weeks to get to zero. Needless to say, I felt seriously fucked over.
During those 15 weeks, a very close friend who lives far away, but knew of my loss, called to check up on me. After spewing out my agony to her, she proceeded to say back to me, "Well, I have good news." My stomach turned and all the muscles in my body tensed as I said, "You're pregnant." So yes, my friend got pregnant with her THIRD child exactly when I had my ectopic pregnancy. However, she chose not to preface her news with a "I know this is a crazy time for you, but I have to tell you..." Nada. It was as if I had not even mentioned to her anything about an IVF and a now obliterated embryo once lodged in my fallopian tube. She went on to talk about how "stressed" she was about the nanny situation...blah blah blah. What could I do? I was shocked and played along. She didn't want to look at the 500 pound gorilla in the room so I let her believe I didn't see it either.
Maybe you are thinking to yourself, "Your friend is an asshole." Yes, in the heat of that moment, I thought that too, and for several weeks following. I went into the deepest depression and internal anger I've had during this infertility experience. When I managed to climb my way out of it, I emailed her to explain how pissed I was about how she handle it. As much as I would like to portray her as the villain, I knew she simply didn't know how to deal with this ugly situation. She's never experience any major death or loss or tragedy to know what's it's like. She might have wanted to spare my feelings by not saying anything but whose feelings are really being spared? If you can pretend you aren't hurting someone you can almost get away with believing it. I wasn't about to let her get away with it. So it was good to let her express how horrible she felt about the situation and for me to hear that. In the end, I had no choice but to lay out my conditions to her - I can't hear about her pregnancy.
Now, 9 months later, in the back of my mind I've been preparing for the email. The one I know is coming like all the other announcements of the newest additions with various photos attached, sometimes even a link to a whole fucking website. So an email arrived today. My strongest desire was to just hit delete and I could vaporize the whole situation. I didn't want to remember my ectopic. I didn't want to think about the baby she is having at exactly the same time I would have had my baby. I didn't want to remember how easily she gets pregnant. I didn't want to have to fake happiness. I finally decided to get it over with. "Just read it like you are ripping off a band aid - quick and painless," I thought. Within all her small talk, she basically was informing me of her induction date next week. Is it a preemptive strike email to warn me that the bigger email announcement is coming? I'm not sure. I am hoping this is her way of letting me know the birth date and I will be spared the mass email announcement. But most likely these things don't cross fertile people's minds.
The hard part is that my bitterness is always mixed with guilt. It's not her fault that she's a constant reminder of my loss. She mentioned in the email feeling stressed about whether the baby will be healthy or not and I just don't know how to sympathize. I know anything can happen, but I place all my bets that her delivery will be just fine. Am I a bad friend for not writing back a nice email reassuring her that it's all so exciting that your baby is coming? Am I a bad friend to not want to hear about this kind of stress that I can't relate to? Am I a bad friend for not putting aside my own pain. Yes I already know I am, but I am also human. I'll come around I am sure, but bear with me today, I'm angry that she gets sweet fruit and I get a lemon.