I had dinner with a cousin of mine some months after my second loss. She was incredibly compassionate towards me, having lost her first pregnancy at 11 weeks, essentially right after she told the whole family about it. But in addition to having a high emotional intelligence quotient, she also has a dark humor which I greatly appreciate. She told me to watch the Garfunkel and Oates music video “Pregnant Women are Smug.”
The first time I watched it, I thought it was pretty dumb, but it quickly it became my anthem. I would sing it in my head every time I passed a pregnant woman on the street. Except I would make one key substitution. Instead of singing “pregnant women are smug” I would sing “pregnant women are sluts.” Crucify me if you like – but if you’ve lost a pregnancy, I know you thought terrible things too.
For me, pregnancy loss has been accompanied by a lot of anger. Psychology says that anger can be a secondary emotion for hurt . Well, I was really hurting.
I stopped following friends on Instagram who posted too many pictures of their kids. I avoided family gatherings because it was too painful to be around all my cousins and their ever-growing broods. And I internally cursed out every pregnant woman I passed on the street. Bitch. Slut. Congratu-f-in’-lations.
Was this healthy? I have absolutely no idea. In my defense I never actually cursed anyone out. But my anger was acute.
You know how when you’re thinking about buying a particular car and then all of the sudden you begin to notice that car on the road all the time around you? When you’re trying to have a kid it’s the same phenomenon. I was so hyper aware of families and children that it felt like there was literally no escape. Every single TV drama and most sitcoms have a character who’s pregnant. Every casual work lunch was filled with conversations about people’s families and kids. In the five years we’ve been trying, my sister and sister-in-law have had a combined four children. The majority of my Instagram feed has turned to pictures of toddlers and almost every holiday card I receive includes kids.
These days, I find myself talking about my nieces and nephews a lot just so it seems like I can relate. But being an aunt is not the same as a mother. It’s like carob versus chocolate. It will do in a pinch, but it’s not the same, not nearly the same.
I remember going to a coffee shop with my husband after one of my losses and there was this beautiful, young mother there with her tiny baby swaddled around her waiting for her latte. As I was looking at her, my husband tapped me on the shoulder and told me to stop glaring. Without even realizing what I was doing, I was giving this poor woman the total stink-eye.
I’m slightly less angry at present. I started going to weekly therapy about a year ago. That, plus time and a break from trying has helped me work through a lot of my grief. But I still flip the bird to the TV every time a movie or TV show character learns she’s expecting.
Preggers, please don’t take offense to this. The truth is that I desperately want to be that pregnant slut. I want to feel nauseated yet excited. I want to gain weight and have weird food cravings. I want to feel my baby kicking inside me even if it gives me terrible heart burn. I want what you have. And because I can’t have it, I’m jealous and I call you names in my head. It makes me feel better, ok? Just deal.