Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Disgusting Miracle

A couple of months ago, just after miscarriage #4, I found a miniature rat terrier in my front yard. The poor thing was obviously neglected, scrawny and crawling with fleas. She's also the sweetest little dog I've ever met. I tried to reunite her with her owners, but it seemed that nobody wanted dear, sweet Olive, so of course we ended up keeping her. She did her best to be my baby, always wanting to be held, fed, and cuddled. And she got fat. Really, really fat. And we realized, uh-oh, she's pregnant.

Fast forward to Sunday morning, when I was awakened at 4:30 by some odd grunting. Olive was on the floor looking up at me, and there was a purple sac on the carpet next to her. I was up in a flash, getting her settled on a pile of blankets and towles, and for the next four hours, we watched the alarming spectacle of birth.

Now, I've tended to romanticize the whole process of becoming a mother, like most people do about things they desperately want but can't have. I tend to forget the down side, the grossness and the pain, that comes even from a healthy, normal labor and delivery. Watching poor Olive straining and bleeding was difficult.

But now she has four tiny, squealing puppies (who I can't help but think of as babies), and she loves the shit out of those guys. All day long she lies curled around them, getting up only if it's urgent, like to go poop in the living room or to chase one of the cats for getting too close. I have to put her food dish under her face twice a day so she'll eat, because as soon as she hears them crying, she's right there, licking and nosing.

In my post-miscarriage distress I had forgotten that birth actually does happen, and that it's not supposed to be neat. Nature works in mysterious, gross ways. This didn't happen because Olive willed it, but because biology demanded it.

I can't wait to feel the way Olive feels, that mixture of protectiveness and tenderness toward somebody so tiny, so vulnerable. I think that makes it worth the pain and the shocking visceral experience of birth.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bizarro Babies

One of my very close friends, Y, got pregnant about a week before I did. Due to a miscarriage in her past, she was apprehensive about her pregnancy, like I was about mine. We thought we'd go through it together; the worry, the milestones, our rapidly expanding bodies. Our kids would play together and be lifelong friends.

Stupid me. Of course I lost the pregnancy. I always lose the pregnancy. She, naturally, did not.

Don't get me wrong--I'm thrilled for her. But I'm equally sad for myself. Because now one of my very best friends is a tangible reminder of what I lost and how things ought to be, but aren't. I have to watch her belly bump poof out, hear her talk about cravings and strange emotions, see the hope and joy on her face when she talks about the future. She says things like, "Just wait until you get to 10 weeks. It feels so strange."

You know what? There is no ten weeks. I've been waiting to get past the first trimester for eighteen months now. I don't believe ten weeks is even possible for me. I have no evidence that it is, and plenty that points to the contrary.

So her baby will be another of what I call "Bizarro Babies", kids that have exactly the opposite of what mine do: life outside the womb.

The first Bizarro baby belongs to a friend of my best friend, who got pregnant just a couple of weeks before I did. Now she has a bouncing eight-month-old who I can't bear to look at. Then my sister-in-law got pregnant with her fifth(!) just as I got knocked up for the second time. Now she has a lively and cuddly six-month old, who was plunked into my arms the last time I visited. I didn't know it, but I was pregnant then, which must have been why it didn't kill me to look into his eyes.

The third one was a chemical pregnancy, there and gone before I even got used to the idea, so I was spared a Bizarro baby on that round, although Nicole Richie's pregnancy parallels that one.

And now the fourth and most painful, because I will love this baby just like I love my friend and her fiancee, who deserve to be parents as much as anybody in history ever has. Except for me, of course.

I just hope that Dr.K can help fix whatever is wrong with me, so that I'll be good and pregnant by the time Y is wheeled into the delivery room. Otherwise, I'll be the biggest downer the maternity ward has ever seen. And my infertility will have cost my dearly, by driving a wedge into one of my most enduring and rewarding friendships.