Olivia Folmar Ard

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What to Expect When You're Expecting After Infertility

Originally written April 24, 2017.

Originally written April 24, 2017.

I don't need to tell you what physical symptoms to expect. 
You've quite literally read the book on those.
You recite them like a liturgy every 28-35 days
while you sit on the bathroom counter
for the longest 3 minutes of your life
and wait for the second line.
Have my breasts been tender? 
Was I nauseated yesterday, or was that just nerves? 

You'll know what people will say, too, 
because you've read all the standard replies
on other people's announcements
and studied them like tarot cards,
picturing your own friends and family
saying them about you. 
But you won't know that most of them
will stick like splinters in your heart.
You don't know the pain will take you off guard
because you've imagined hearing them
so long. 

Because when people say, 
"Kiss your sleep goodbye,"
they don't know
about the nights you've lost
in tears and worries and what-ifs.
They don't know that life before two lines
can be just as sleepless and stressful. 
They don't know.
They can't.

And when they remind you
hours of screaming and
endless dirty diapers are coming,
with the implication that you'll
wish you hadn't tried so hard,
they don't know how a part of you
still grieves for the way this baby came about.
They don't know what it feels like
o have doctors involved
in this sacred, intimate process;
no one wants prescriptions
or invasive exams
r injections
or 27.5% live birth rates
or 30-50% chances of miscarriage. 
But they don't know. 
They don't want to. 

When they ask you
"Do you want a boy or a girl?"
and you say "just as long as it's healthy," 
and they smirk and say, "yeah, right,"
they don't know how true that is. 
They don't know all you want to see
in that stormy gray and black box
is a steady thumping heartbeat,
movement,
two arms,
two legs,
one head.
In that moment, bows or bowties
is the last thing on your mind,
because all you can think about
is "am I that 30-50%?" 
They don't know. 
How could they?

When they joke about how happy you'll be
when everyone visits and wants to hold the baby
so you don't have to,
they don't know how your heart aches
to see that baby, touch it,
hold it,
never let it go. 
They don't know that in the quiet hours
of not-quite-night and not-quite-morning,
you press your hand to your stomach
and try to feel the plum-sized body
beat against your hand like a butterfly
because you need to know it's safe.
They don't know.
They can't possibly.

When you're finally
member of the sorority
you've been rushing
for months or years, 
this contrast between how they treated you before
and how they treat you now
is like a knife between the ribs.
Before, your story made people uncomfortable,
and not everyone wanted to hear it, and now
those who weren't with you in the valley
want to rejoice with you on the mountaintop
and they don't understand why
it takes your breath away.
They don't know.
They will never know.

Breathe in, mama. 
Breathe out. 
Remember,
they don't mean to hurt you,
but it's okay to feel the sting.

It's okay to feel like crap,
even though you promised yourself
you'd never be one of those women
who are pregnant and miserable.
You didn't know.

It's okay to not be happy
every second of every minute of every day.
It's okay to worry.
It's okay to cry.
It's okay to be scared.
You didn't know before.
You are two sides of the coin now. 
ou are the bridge between.