A guest post by Roo:
Third time is not the charm, not according to the negative pregnancy test that is sitting in our bathroom trash can. For me, this third disappointment feels more like three strikes and you’re out. There’s a feeling of finality and failure. But my beloved partner reminds me that there is no reason to doubt that I will become pregnant at some point. In the meantime, oh goody, I’m learning something.
This third attempt has led me to rely on some old- but positive-coping skills that I developed when I was a college student dealing with depression. There’s a stepping back and a simultaneous leaning in that’s required, a seemingly complicated dance that it took me a while to learn. The lesson came to me in the form of a Buddhist nun, Pema Chodron, whose writings taught me about relaxing with things as they are, leaning into pain and being at peace with not knowing how the story will end. And the story of TTC is extremely suspenseful at best.
Every story needs a setting. And although TTC feels like purgatory, a surreal netherworld where we are only partially alive, it is, in fact, a viable landscape. We can exist in it fully, not just tiptoe around in it, holding our breaths and falling asleep with our fingers crossed. We can make love. We can tickle our giggly tow-headed boy. We can savor soups made from scratch at our favorite restaurant. We can laugh hysterically while coasting down the small hill near our house that was recently glistening with snow.
This is our life right now. And, counterintuitively, by framing it in terms of a chapter of our lives that will pass, we allow ourselves to be fully present in it. I can’t leapfrog over what life is trying to teach me, even as I’d rather skip the lesson and head out for recess.
And, then there are the gifts we didn’t ask for. When I meet a woman who is desperately trying to conceive, perhaps I will feel kinship. Perhaps I will be of use to her. When my colleague miscarried recently at nineteen weeks, I felt that I could relate to at least a small slice of her pain because of my early miscarriage in November. I know that our experiences were far from the same, but perhaps my compassion for her is deeper now than it would have been a year ago. That’s a gift.
My partner and I are becoming more human, more integrated with the whole spectrum of human experience. We are becoming more whole. Not that it doesn’t hurt. Not that I didn’t eat way too much chocolate today as a way to self-medicate. Not that we don’t have scars. Just that there may be something worth noticing here. Maybe there is beauty in the bleak space we currently occupy. Maybe by trying to just be here now, we can transform the space into something that is worthy of living through.