Over the last 2 years 9 months, the circle of people that we have shared our TTC journey with has gotten smaller and smaller.
Because we are trying for a third child, our situation is viewed differently to those trying for their first. Friends and relatives can be quite critical of us and our choices, and this has been (and continues to be), extremely hurtful.
The first people we cut out of the journey were our in-laws. So sad, as they are really lovely to us and care about us deeply. My mother-in-law however, has a tendency to say what she thinks regardless of what the impact of that is, so when we announced our first pregnancy after DS2, her words were:
You know that it will be DS2 who will suffer.
She believed that we would neglect him as he would be the “middle child”.
When we miscarried, aside from the story of how they didn’t speak to us for almost 3 months, the verdict was clearly that these things “happen for the best”.
They have had no knowledge at all of the subsequent losses and my hospital stay earlier this year.
On New Year’s Day this year, one of my best and oldest friends said to me, with regard to my miscarriages:
It all works out for the best though, doesn’t it? It’s all for the best, really.
I suspect she thinks I am too old to be galavanting around trying for a baby. She always sends me details of her younger relatives getting pregnant (she has a large family), even those who I barely know. I suspect she is trying to hint that I am a different generation to these girls (which I am!). I may be wrong, of course.
This evening I texted my Dad to tell him the news. He doesn’t like emotional situations, so text is much easier for him to deal with.
“This 3rd child is not happening. Perhaps your body is saying 2 is enough.”
I know that deep down, the motive for these comments probably stems from the fact that they don’t want to see me suffer, rather than the fact that they think I am being an idiot for trying.
But, it doesn’t help us. It doesn’t make me feel better. It makes me feel like I am being judged as a fool for continuing to try for something I want so badly.
And in part, I think people want us to stop so that they don’t have to feel awkward and deal with the situation.
There is something about human nature that tends towards belief in a predetermined fate in the face of failure. When we fail at our goals, people always fall back on these cliches.
Perhaps you’re just not meant to be a doctor.
Perhaps you aren’t meant to win the race.
Perhaps you just aren’t destined to be an astronaut.
Maybe you just need to stop pursuing this and find something else.
But how will we know if we just give up?
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter was rejected by 12 publishers before it found worldwide fame. What if she had listened to kind words from people who didn’t want to see her dreams crushed?
Maybe you aren’t quite right for children’s books. Maybe you should try journalism?
Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky script was rejected in the region of 1,500 times.
Maybe you’re just not cut out to be a writer/actor?
In fact, Stallone’s story is more incredible than that. He was personally rejected from countless acting roles because of his unconventional looks and was at the point of having nothing left. Where would he be now if a good friend had said:
Perhaps you should take a normal job. Settle down. Have a nice life. It’s probably all for the best.
I love these accounts of triumph in the face of everything. Because they show something special – a spirit of passion and belief that transcends opinion, failure and loss. They are the beacons of hope for every one of us pursuing a dream.
And yes, I know that for every Stallone, there are probably thousands that never make it no matter how hard they try.
But at the end of it all, on your deathbed, do you want to look back and wonder what might have been if you’d tried just a little longer? A little harder?
So, if I had the courage, I would tell people in real life the following:
Yes, it may be hard to watch us go through this. Yes, you may wish that we would stop and “spare ourselves” any further agony. But we walk this path with our eyes wide open. We know loss is a very real risk – every single time we try for a baby. As long I am able to bear that ever-present hazard, I want you to say only one simple thing. That you are sorry to hear the bad news. Nothing else is needed.
And I will decide when, and if, it’s for the best. Not anyone else.
And that, I suppose, is why I blog about these events. Because the distance between us spares us from the pain. Although we connect over the rollercoaster of TTC, our shared goal means that understanding goes without saying. There is no judgement here. There is no questioning of motive or dissection of emotional stability.
For that, and for all the other wonderful things in my life, I am humbled and grateful.