The Power of Three

I tried to hide out as much as possible.

 

Part of me wanted to be as strong as everyone around me seemed to think I was.  Part of me felt ashamed and embarrassed.  And part of me knew that to tell the story over and over was to experience those gut-wrenching emotions over and over.

 

I wasn’t sure I could handle the pain.  I wasn’t sure I wanted to.

 

And so I tried my best to hide out as much as possible.

 

I went from home to work and back again.  I stopped walking with friends after work.  I ran on my elliptical behind closed doors instead.  I stopped going to parties or dinners…especially when my husband was on tour.  I stuck close to home and watched a little too much TV.

 

I read a lot of chick lit.

 

But a funny thing happened…

 

A couple of my close friends, one who was no stranger to miscarriage and another who just couldn’t stand to watch me slip away, decided that they had no intention of letting me hide out.

 

They called.  A lot.  And while they didn’t always mention miscarriage or infertility, they knew that I needed some space from it, they did let me know that they were right by my side.

 

They listened when I wanted to talk.  They said the right things…the only things you really can say from afar.  They asked other friends about their experiences and got back to me with ideas for different treatments.

 

They cheered me on when I went for my acupuncture appointments and laughed when I shared embarrassing stories after each appointment…as it turns out, it’s really hard to close your eyes and relax when you have little needles threatening to puncture your eyes if you happen to sneeze.

 

They cried on the other end of the phone when the second miscarriage started at almost exactly the same point in the pregnancy as the first.

 

They swore up and down that I didn’t eat something awful or walk too fast or sleep too little.  They reminded me 10,000 times that it wasn’t my fault.

 

They brought books when I needed books and wine when I needed wine.  They supported my Dark Chocolate M&M habit 100% and allowed me to be the third wheel…even when they probably really needed a date night.

 

Even though I still suffered in silence for much of the time and refused to tell another living soul other than them for a very long time…these two friends made the even the hardest days just a little bit easier to bear.

 

They did it simply by being there.

 

And that…is the power of three.

 

Infertility isn’t about hiding out…infertility is about reaching out to someone who understands.

 

This one’s for you Stacey and Stacey – I love you to the moon and back.

Left Behind

Early on, I promised myself that I wouldn’t let it change me.  There are no guarantees that life will be easy, after all.  Sometimes struggle is just part of the deal.

 

And for a little while, I even believed it.  I took the blows as best I could and then picked myself up and started again.  I would prevail; I just knew it.  Together, my husband and I could conquer anything.

 

I put my energy into feigning some version of normal.  I met up with friends for coffee, dinner, and movies.  I talked on the phone, wrote long and detailed emails, and remembered every birthday.

 

I tried.  I wanted to ensure that everything would remain the same.

 

But I was suffering in silence.  Sure, a few very close friends knew about the miscarriages, but I was reluctant to burden them with my constant thoughts and fears.  I talked about it when they asked but, for the most part, I remained quiet.

 

I did the asking.  And when they began to have first, second, and third babies, I asked about the babies.  I bought gifts, oohed at the appropriate moments, and held those babies close.  I snuggled them close as if they were my own.

 

I soaked it up.

 

It was a cool, December afternoon when I paid a visit to the newest baby born to someone in my friendship circle.  The sun cast a warm glow through the crack in the chestnut colored blinds.  I sat, huddled into the far corner of the oversized white sofa, snuggling her baby girl tight.  With wide eyes and an open mouth, she considered me with curiosity.  After struggling to free her tiny pink hand from the swaddle, her arm shot up toward my hand, as if she wanted to make contact.

 

While my friend regaled me with stories of her birth, I sat quietly and stared at her little girl.  It would be impossible not to smile in the face of such beauty, miracle, and little.  With a tight grip reserved for fire fighters and new babies, she clamped her warm hand around my little finger and held on for dear life.

 

I was in awe of her, as I was with every new baby that entered my life.  I could have held her for hours.  When she began to fuss, I walked her around the house to give her mommy just a little more time.  And then I left them to bond and find their way together.

 

I took a deep cleansing breath as I stepped out into the sunlight; new babies are good for the soul.  The colors seemed just a bit brighter as I scanned the landscape along the walkway and back to my car.

 

It wasn’t until I got into the car and bucked my seatbelt that my emotions caught up with me.  One moment I was aglow with love and the scent of a new baby, I could still feel the weight of her in my arms.  The next I was a sobbing mess.

 

I sat there for what seemed like hours, crying into my steering wheel.  Wishing, wanting, and being left behind yet again left me feeling lost and alone, no matter how hard my friends tried.  I cried for my losses, I cried for my shattered dreams, and I cried for the friendships I wasn’t sure I would be able to maintain.

 

With mascara stained cheeks, I finally found the strength to drive away.  I made my way home in a daze, not thinking or feeling, just driving.

 

It was then I realized that I had changed.  My friends were moving forward with their loves, expanding their families and starting new adventures.  But I was stuck in limbo, left behind and full of frustration, anxiety, and great sadness.  I was unable to connect because the aftermath was too emotionally taxing.

 

I stayed in touch as much as I could, and attended outings when I felt strong enough to socialize.  But, for a long time, I often chose to isolate.  I read hundreds of books, watched the same movies ten times over, and exercised my feelings away.  I waited for my time to come.

 

Despite my best efforts to the contrary, infertility changed me.  It left me hollow, anxious, and alone.

 

It left me feeling…

 

Left behind.

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