Does anyone else remember a dorky old movie from the early 1960s starring Doris Day and Brian Keith titled "With Six You Get Egg Roll?" If I recall, the movie itself was about a Brady Bunch-esque blended family and was fairly forgettable. However, for some strange reason, the title stuck in my head and kept popping up as I reflected on my recent miscarriage. My fifth miscarriage, in case you are counting.
Yes, with six you get egg roll...but with five you get no sympathy cards.
It appears that the amount of post-miscarriage support provided by family and friends who have not themselves experienced recurrent miscarriages or extended infertility generally is inversely proportional to the number of miscarriages that I have.* In other words, I have been having miscarriages sporadically for the past three and a half years, and not only am I tired of it, but my fertile friends and loved ones are tired of it. Accordingly, their support generally has been on somewhat of a downhill slide ever since my third miscarriage. I fear that I have reached and exceeded a reasonable miscarriage support quota. The fertiles have had enough of my miscarriages, and who can blame them? So have I. "I had another miscarriage." I sound like a broken record. Blech.
Their response, whether expressed openly or more subtly, reminds me of neighbors whom I was close with as I grew up. I remember their little boy contorting his arm in an unnatural angle and complaining to his mom "It hurts when I do this!" "Well, then, stop doing that!" she replied in exasperation.
It seems that the fertiles in my life have pretty much given up hope that I am able to carry a baby to term, and they don't understand why I keep setting myself up for the heartache of yet another miscarriage...and they probably have a point. Two months ago (before my most recent miscarriage), my mom bluntly told me that it was time "to hang it up," meaning that I should face up to the fact that I can't have a baby and should quit torturing myself by continuing to hope and to try. (She loves me and probably would take a bullet for me, but she is a no-nonsense kind of gal who was raised on a farm with eight brothers, and tact concerning emotional issues is not her specialty.) At the same time, my dad, who shares her opinion, employed the more roundabout strategy of using any available opportunity to encourage me to adopt.
It hasn't always been this way. Nobody really knew about my first miscarriage, but with my second and third pregnancies close fertile family members and friends, including our church group, were very hopeful for us and sent us sympathy cards, some flowers, delivered a few home-cooked meals to us, and paid us a few condolence visits when I miscarried. It was like a soothing balm for my jagged heart. It was comforting to know that people cared about what we were going through. Through their support, I knew that God had not forgotten me and was providing me with what I needed to help me get through a tough time. I took pictures of the flowers, gathered the sympathy cards, and lovingly stored them in the top drawer of the dresser in my bedroom along with the only other tangible mementos of my lost, unknown children: a baby sleeper in soft green and blue stripes with a giraffe appliqued on it, positive peesticks, and a grainy ultrasound photo.
I think that having such tangible mementos of a miscarried baby is important to provide me with reassurance that the little spark of life that was lost was REAL and that I'm not crazy to grieve over that loss and the loss of related dreams. I never got to look into the faces of those children, never got to know what their laugh would have sounded like. Their presence inside me was ephemeral and elusive, like a will o' the wisp. I couldn't hold onto them; no matter how hard I tried, they slipped through my fingers. But through the saved positive peesticks and the solitary, dog-eared ultrasound photo, I know that they were real. And through the sympathy cards and flowers, I know that other people recognized that they were real.
This leads me to blogging and why it is so helpful to me. It is the best kind of therapy to be able to write here with abandon about whatever I am thinking and feeling about the struggle to have a child, and to know that there are supportive people out there in the same boat who actually read what I write. And your blogs and e-mails help me to know that I'm not the only recurrent miscarrier or infertile in a sea of fertiles; I'm not alone. (When I discovered infertility blogs and started reading them, recognizing my own feelings in them, I felt like the little Bee Girl at the end of that old Blind Mellon video!)
Most of all, I appreciate your e-mails, kind comments, and thoughtful responses to my posts, especially the last few posts about my most recent miscarriage. With five I got no sympathy cards, but I did get pages of wonderful words from Internet friends and well wishers who took the time to show that they cared...and who would hold out hope for me and wouldn't think I was crazy if I decide to try again. I printed out your words and carefully nestled them next to the soft blue and green baby sleeper in the upper drawer of my dresser.
So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for your support. It means more to me than I can express.
*(I wanted to clarify that there are a few fertiles who I am close with in real life who have continued to be exceedingly and consistently supportive of me and who have avoided giving assvice throughout all my miscarriages, especially one particular friend in another state who called and e-mailed me frequently and sent me flowers after my latest miscarriage, and my sister, who lives in another city and called often to see how I was holding up.)