Never have I been more aware of life’s milestones, than throughout this infertility journey. It has become glaringly obvious that I am not hitting the societal milestone of having children in a timely fashion (according to the general population’s opinion).
All through life we are measure by our milestones. First smile, first steps, first day of school, first date, high school graduation, university graduation (or integration into the workforce if choosing to by pass post secondary), marriage, and then babies. Once the babies are born, we not only progress our own milestone but we then begin placing them onto our children. We also aid in our own parents achievements by giving them grand babies. So at this point, not only am I am failing at my own milestones, but in turn denying my mother her milestone of being a grandmother.
My best friend had her second child, another boy, by schedule cesarean last Wednesday. I took some comfort in knowing when he was coming, so I could brace myself for the blow. I wished her luck the day before and told her I would visit her when she was feeling up to it. She sent me a picture the day he was born, his little face all perfect, spared from bruising and scratches by not being squished through the birth canal, and a shock of black hair that their first baby most certainly did not have. It made my heart cringe a little, but I was, and I am happy for her.
I expected her to be in the hospital for a few days as she was there 4 or 5 days last time but they discharged her on the Friday morning. I was surprised and a little disappointed as I figured if I visited her in the hospital there would be ample excuses to make a quick exit. I recalculated my plan, and we decided to visit her at home on Sunday afternoon, as we had dinner plans at J’s parents’ that evening, and would provide us a reason to leave.
When we arrived at their house her husband was just leaving to pick up some groceries for dinner. I knocked gently on the front door, just in case one of the kids was sleeping. My friend came to the door, walking gingerly, still with a rather large belly. Her older son was in fact sleeping, so we made our way quietly into the living room where the newest addition was sleeping. She gingerly scooped him out of his playpen and passed him over to me.
I love new babies and their tiny little features. His adorable little bow mouth, frowning and suckling in his sleep, minature fingers and toes with even tinier little nails and his dark mop of hair in all it’s glory, little baby sideburns and all. He was adorable, and I told her so. I held him, J held him. He got hungry when I had him in my arms, so they got him a bottle made (she does not breastfeed) and I fed it to him. I burped him, and coddled him. We made small talk, and I asked her how everything went, how she was feeling, and how her older boy is dealing with it all. We brought a gift for the new baby, and a book for her older one. I always feel bad when there is a second child born and the first child is ignored in favour of the new baby.
After I had exhausted the list of perfunctory questions to ask about her, and the new baby there was a bit of a lull in the conversation. It got a bit awkward and I wished we could just leave at that point, but we hadn’t been there all that long. Luckily, her husband came back and that somewhat revived the conversation. I told the tales of the bridal shower/stagette I had attended and the upcoming wedding. It made me realize again what different lives her and I lead by the stories we had to share with each other.
After a sufficient amount of time, and chit chat had passed, and it was time to be getting to our dinner plans, we excused ourselves, congratulated them again and made our exit. Before even reaching the car I let out a big sigh. There was a bit of an awkwardness in the air of the visit. I know my friend would realize it would be a tricky time for me, but she could never know how truly painful it was.
When we got in the car, I leaned back into my seat and all I could manage was, “that was really hard”. We pulled away from their perfect suburban home, and back out onto the main road and the emotions started to bubble up. I gulped a big breath of air, and told J that I didn’t think it would be that hard, choking down a lump in my throat, tears threatening to spill onto my cheeks. At that moment, it was either break into hysterical sobs, or take a deep breath and hold it together. I know I didn’t have to stuff it down, but I decided I didn’t want to breakdown right then and there. We were headed to J’s parents and I wanted just to move on, for the moment. When I am alone, and safe, I will let it out. I will cry for all the sad moments I’ve endured with a smile plastered on my face. I will release it on my terms.
J held my hand the whole way, as he drove to his parent’s house. It was a good distraction to be at his parent’s, and not focus on the pain. J has recently become rather vague with his mom (who is the one in the family who asks about how things are going) as he just doesn’t want to discuss it with her anymore, nor have more questions when we begin the IVF process, so we had a rather innocuous dinner conversation.
My friend reached another milestone, her second child, and the completion of her family. I reached a more bittersweet milestone, by passing two years trying to bring our own child into the world. And just tonight, my cousin and his wife had their twin boys, about 7 weeks early, but everyone is doing well. Just another reminder that I am falling behind.
I don’t so much care what the rest of society thinks about when and how I should meet the expected milestones, but I am ready. I want to reach this next benchmark for myself, and for J.