I went maternity clothes shopping for the third time over the weekend. My MIL and I drove to the outlets. On a Saturday. The day before Mother’s Day. It wasn’t a mistake, but it certainly wasn’t without some discomfort.
The first time, buying a pair of jeans, the most uncomfortable it got was when I overheard the sales girl ask my MIL if this was my first. Naturally, MIL said yes, because she wouldn’t dream of bringing up my miscarriage with a stranger. But I wanted to rush out of the changing room and cry No! This isn’t my first! I felt torn. Bean will always be my first… But then what of this baby, the one who is thriving and wriggling and stretching out? Isn’t s/he also my first?
To anyone who knows me, I look pregnant. To those who don’t, I look a little pot-bellied and puffy. Regardless, I officially no longer fit into my regular jeans. I couldn’t even bring the seams together. Yesterday’s shopping trip was made out of necessity because I am fast running out of things to wear.
I still feel like a fraud though, walking into a maternity store. I lack the blissful excitement of pregnancy. I don’t want to be asked how far along I am, if this is my first. I have no gushing answers.
Normally when I shop I want to be left alone. When shopping for maternity clothes, I feel like that even more.
For the most part, it went okay. Until I overheard the conversation between two heavily pregnant women in the cubicles next to mine. Breathlessly excited conversations about how they were going to have a water birth, they were so unselfconscious they can’t have known loss or infertility. Is this your first? asked one. The other replied it was her second. Ohhhh, the first lady gushed, what advice would you give a first-timer?
Perhaps I should have paid attention to the answer, for my own benefit, but I miserably blocked out the conversation. I stood in line to pay for a few things, winced when the sales girl pointed out the baby store coupon and declined to sign up for their mailing list. I mean, as if. I signed up for a pregnancy newsletter last year, and I’d still get the odd email months after I’d unsubscribed. (I won’t use most pregnancy apps for the same reason.)
As we left the store, MIL asked what was wrong. I sighed and told her about the conversation I’d overheard. I explained simply: My journey is so different to everyone else’s. I have nothing in common with most pregnant women. It’s like, they’re there happily shopping. I’m there out of reluctant necessity. They’re looking forward to meeting their babies this year; I’m hoping to.
I want to try a prenatal yoga class, but daren’t. Pregnant bellies no longer make me suck in my breath, but the idea of being in a room with two or more pregnant strangers brings on mild anxiety. I envy them their confidence, their cheerful conversations about having a baby — the most natural thing in the world! Chances are, they haven’t had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to get to where they are. They trust in the process. Their bodies haven’t let them down. I can’t separate my journey to get pregnant from the pregnancy itself. I wish there were a prenatal yoga class for people who’ve struggled with loss or infertility (or both!).
I’m straddling the line between the pregnant and the not. I’m in a No Man’s Land. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m grateful to be here. And if I’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that everyone has some kind of shit that they’re dealing with. No one’s life is perfect, no matter what they project on Facebook.
Still, I don’t really feel like I fit in anywhere. I’m too pregnant to for some people still struggling to conceive. (I am aware of who has unsubscribed from OFT or stopped following me on Twitter, and I understand why. Not six months ago was I in their shoes.) But I’m not pregnant enough to breeze through life and be open with The World about Tiny. And I certainly don’t feel part of the Normal Pregnant Women’s Club.
As I said to someone on Twitter yesterday, I might not be in the trenches anymore, but I’m still covered in mud.
On a unrelated note: today is the 13th anniversary of my grandfather’s death, and the first time I won’t be calling my (late) grandmother on this day to let her know I’m thinking of her. Their generosity covered most of our DEIVF costs. I really wish I could tell them how much their gift has meant to DH and me. Thank you so much, D & R.