No escape

Last night, DH and I were lying in bed, looking for movies on our computers that we could stream from Netflix. I was happily tired after having spent most of the day deep cleaning the apartment, something I’d been wanting to do for some time. I somehow ended up on youtube, where I found that terrible Tom Cruise movies from the 80s, Cocktail, that my much younger self had adored. I started watching it for kicks, but then remembered that at the end, the girl gets pregnant, and at the very end, she whispers in Tom Cruise’s ear: “It’s twins.”

I also remembered my younger self dreaming of the day I would be pregnant. I remembered wondering if–hoping that–I would have twins.

I put my computer away.

I drifted off a little, and when I came to, DH had begun to watch a hilariously kitschy sci-fi movie from 1980, Battle Beyond the Stars, and we had fun laughing at the dialogue, DH recalling how much he had loved the Corsair Star Cruiser when he was a kid. But then the plot took an unexpected turn: Doctor Hephaestus attempts to hold Shad captive in order to mate Shad with his daughter, Nanelia. “There will be children on the ship,” the doctor says to his robot assistant. “Finally, there will be noise! There will be life!”

“It will be very different indeed, sir,” the robot replied.

Really? I can’t watch a stupid sci-fi movie without being reminded of my infertility? Of the quietness of my home, and how much I want to fill it with, exactly as the doctor put, noise and life?


These sorts of jabs happen to women struggling with infertility almost every day, sometimes multiple times a day. There is no escape. Yesterday, I stood in line behind a happily enormously pregnant woman who described in detail how “the doctor says it can be any day now” to the barrista while I stood patiently behind her, waiting to buy a coffee. The day before that, I stood in line behind a woman and her stroller-bound child whom the cashier cooed over gushingly, chatting sweetly with the mother. When the mother left and  it came my turn in line, the same cashier barely looked at me and said nothing to me at all as she frowned and dropped coins in my hand.

This last loss, my fourth, was easier than the previous three, but it came with its own fair share of jabs.

The very worst part of having a miscarriage, at least for me, is the week or more I have had to wait for the miscarriage to happen. You know the pregnancy is not going to work out, but your body does not and is holding onto it. You walk around wondering if it is going to start that day. You feel your pregnancy symptoms flare up, recede, flare up recede. You might even run to the toilet and gag because you’ve still got HCG in your system. Your progesterone and HCG are both falling and that is making you feel angry, sad, unstable. You want to escape from your body and mind.

This last loss, during the horrible limbo waiting time, I decided to try to do something that I thought would be healthy for me: escape into a movie. I chose one playing at BAM that looked like an adult movie about adult concerns, but that did not include parents and babies: Your Sister’s Sister. I couldn’t go wrong with this one, I thought. An island in the Pacific Northwest. A single straight guy in mourning over his brother’s death and a lesbian woman reeling from a breakup. They drink tons, they have sex, they complicate their relationship with the lesbian woman’s sister, who is also the man’s best friend. Yes: this movie had 0% chance of including strollers and pregnant bellies.

But where there is sex, so too there are sperm and egg. Turns out that the lesbian woman pricked the condom so that she would become impregnated by the straight man because she has always desperately wanted a baby.

I couldn’t believe it. I had been thoroughly enjoying the movie. For the first time in days, my mind had not been obsessively wondering: “When is it going to happen? When am I going to start to bleed?” At first, I pretended that this plot point in the movie didn’t bother me. But then the plot began to center more and more on this possible baby-to-come and how the three of them were going to have to negotiate this huge change that might happen. That might transform their lives. That might make them all grow up more. That will provide richness and joy. That will bring them closer together and link them to each other inextricably forever. Complete with–of course!–a closing scene in the bathroom with a pregnancy test. The three of them cutely bumping into each other in a cramped bathroom while nervously waiting the three minutes before looking at the result window clutched in the lesbian woman’s hand. I think the goddamned timer was in the shape of a cute ladybug.

I have looked at so many pregnancy test this past year I could not count them, and I have taken photographs of all four positives I have gotten—just in case it works out and I want record of it. Just in case. Now I have these photographs of BFPs and I don’t know what to do with them. I can’t seem to delete them from my camera.

I had been so happy in those bathrooms, watching the second pink line appear in the oval window.

I’ll keep the BFP photos, I suppose. Along with the plants I have bought after each loss. Four plants now crowded into a little pink pot. What else am I to do?

I left the movie angry, but it wasn’t until I was halfway down the sidewalk that the anger turned into acute rage. I would rather not write about the things I said and did then. It was a rough night. I expected to come home and find blood in my underwear, but I did not.

The next day, in an effort to again find peace and health, I went to yoga. Can’t go wrong with yoga, right?

Wrong again.

I sat in the front row, and as class was about to begin, a woman rushed in and placed her mat to the right and just in front of mine–so I could see every move she made in her pregnant glory. “Shouldn’t she be in a prenatal yoga class?” I thought, angrily, and then I took deep breaths to clear my mind. The woman was someone I had met during the Buddhist Refuge Vows class DH and I had gone to the day we found out we were going to have a third loss. I had cried so much that day that I had to wear sunglasses to the class to cover up my Rocky Balboa eyes. My instructor had introduced me to this pregnant woman after the Vows class because this woman had had a miscarriage, and now she was pregnant. When I talked to her I found out that she also had a daughter at home. “Oh, you don’t have any children?” she’d asked my sunglass-ed face. “Oh, that makes it harder, doesn’t it, yeah…” She had no idea what to say to me, and it wasn’t her fault, but I had wanted to respond: “Yes, it makes it harder. It makes me in a different Universe from you, that and having had three losses, not just one.”

These thoughts–they happen sometimes. I just have to let them rise up and let them go, without judgment, and move on.

So during the entire yoga class, I got to watch this woman do modified yoga to protect the burgeoning life inside her. But that wasn’t the worst of it. The yoga instructor would call out instructions, occasionally, to accommodate the pregnant woman, like this:

“If you’re pregnant, step your feet wide apart, like this. If you’re not pregnant, bring your feet together.

“If you’re not pregnant…

“If you’re not pregnant…

“If you’re not pregnant…

Every time the instructor called out “If you’re not pregnant,” I dutifully followed her instructions, blinking the hot tears from my eyes.

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  1. Visited by my old self | the unexpected trip

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