My friend is pregnant.
Our friendship shares a similarity of loss. She had already had two miscarriages before we met. Within a few months of meeting, she was returning home to care for her father who died within a short time. We shared phone calls where I assured her she was doing a great job of being a caregiver and reminded her to practice some form of self care. She was working through her own grief when I suffered my own miscarriage and it was only when she miscarried her third pregnancy that I shared my own news.
There is a kinship in loss. Those who walk the path of infertility, of losing babies and parents join a club that no one truly wants to belong to. My friend and I could easily talk about our thoughts, our pain and wondering what the universe’s plan could possibly be. We questioned the next steps of surgery or adoption (both of which she considered). There was deep comfort in knowing that I didn’t have to explain my feelings She always shared the right words when I needed to hear them and during my own days of caregiving, her responses provided me with reassurance. Her presence simply brought peace.
Life took her and her husband to the west coast. The transition was shaky as she adapted to a new city where she knew no one and considered which direction she would take her career. Her focus turned upon adjusting more than starting a family. Our conversations involved career references and discussions about additional training.
Then she sent me a message asking when I could fit a phone call into my schedule. It takes coordination considering the time zones. Not a truly unusual request considering our friendship, but I knew. Our friendship has that type of connection regardless of the miles.
We were well into the conversation before she told me. She was cautious and hyper aware as she passed each of the weeks of the first trimester. Expecting something to happen because it always did. At the time of our conversation, she was preparing to enter a time where she had never been. New territory. New anxiety. New fears of what might happen. She shared that it was hard to enjoy. I encouraged her to realize that it was a positive to be entering a time frame she had never encountered before. This pregnancy was not the others.
As I hung up from the phone call, I did not feel the aches of my own grief that I have felt in the past. The questions of asking why I couldn’t have my own healthy pregnancy and child did not occur. This time, the feelings of jealousy and longing were not there. This time it didn’t hurt. This time I found myself thanking God to this place and asking for her to feel peace.
This was a moment of realizing those grief emotions did not have the control over me as they once did.
Grief emotions ebb and flow with time. In the midst of years of infertility treatments and losses, I had to constantly work through emotions when friends announced they were pregnant and then again announced another pregnancy. I’ve had to appear as if there was no pain as I listened to stories of children’s lives and realize this is a world I would not have. It’s not been easy. However, this time it didn’t hurt.
Clients often ask me if grief gets better. I’m always hesitant to answer but I typically share that if one does the grief work of allowing all of the grief emotions, in time it does get better. The emotions of sadness, pain and longing are not easy emotions and often we desire to not feel. Without allowing these emotions, the grief continues to be present and is often like a coat that can not be taken off.
I’ve done more grief work than I can acknowledge at times. I’ve grieved the losses of miscarriages. I’ve grieved the life that could have been. I can now share my own story and not feel the pain. I can now rejoice in the excitement of a friend who is receiving an answered prayer.
I share this today as I feel it is always important to share the multitude of losses that are often overlooked in this world. Many couples struggle with infertility, miscarriages and years of waiting. I want to share that grief does get better. I want to share when one makes a choice to grieve they are taking a part in the grief journey. Finally, I want to share that there is a time when it doesn’t hurt.
As for my friend, before making it public on New Year’s Eve, she texted me that she was expecting a baby girl in the Spring. She had never known the sex before. She shared that she had tried not to become too attached for fear. I encouraged her to start writing to her little one. “She’s waiting for you.”
As for me, I’m prepared to send some monogramed items to the west coast.
Has there been a time in your life when the pain didn’t hurt?
Joining with Emily’s Grateful Heart Monday as I’m so grateful to have walked through my own grief journey and to share it with others.