October 15th is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Heavy stuff. I’ve never heard of such a day, but I saw it on Facebook via a friend who was honoring three babies she had lost.
The subject of pregnancy and infant loss always strikes a chord with me. I’m never sure if I’m in the club or not. I feel like my four early miscarriages don’t give me true street credit to self-identify as someone who has suffered significant loss.
On the other side of the fertility spectrum, I was in a conversation today with a friend who is trying to have a baby. I have numerous friends right now who are facing down the fertility challenge a little later in life. Images of ovaries with padlocks on them, refusing to ovulate because you just blew out your 40th birthday candle flash through my mind as I hear the uncertainty in their voices.
Every time I have these conversations, I get a pit in my stomach because I know what a joke fertility can be. This obscure concept that is nothing short of a superpower can be cruel and misleading. One minute you’re ovulating, the next your ovaries have posted a sign saying closed for the season. One minute the stick is pink, and the next you are getting wheeled into the operating room for a D&C. It’s a joke. Every 14th day of a cycle holds the promise of getting knocked up that month. Every 28th day holds the promise of two lines on the stick. Every stick with two lines holds the promise of a baby in your arms in 9 months. Every ultrasound promises that your baby is ok… for today. And every package of prenatal vitamins holds the promise that someday, your pregnancy will last long enough to get through an entire bottle.
But there is no detection kit, no ultrasound, no blood test that can reveal your fertility future. No one can tell you that it’s going to be nearly two years before you will have a healthy pregnancy. No one can tell you you’ll lose four and win two. The truth is, all you have to rely on is hope.
And that’s what this day means to me. Those of us who are pleading for our fertility to come through, and those of us who have been slapped in the face by it share a real loss – a loss of hope.
This is a day to remember what it’s like to hope. Every fertility journey is an exercise in hope. Today is a day to remember the resiliency of hope. It may be wiped out with every bad news ultrasound or every 14th or 28th of the month, but it regenerates. And every time it’s beat down, it comes back stronger. Hope grows back and embraces your psyche to get you through another month, another fertility specialist, another almost pregnancy. Our challenge is to let it regenerate and lift us to a better place after each and every try or after every loss. The alternative has nothing but pain and distraction to offer.
Don’t let yourself be robbed of the joy of being hopeful. Smile on the 14th, get out of bed early on the 28th, buy your prenatal vitamins and keep going. Because eventually, one of these months, one of these pregnancies is going to be THE ONE and you better not spend one second of it feeling sad, fearful or distressed. You worked too hard for this.