Cry Together: Crowded Rooms in Empty Spaces

The first in a series of articles about friends and infertility…

“We ought to be able to navigate this,” I kept thinking. It was my second child. It was her first, she was newly married and this baby was a suprise, a honeymoon baby. We were close friends so to be pregnant together was exciting. It was another commonality we had, one more piece of the foundation to our friendship. I remember being at a lakeside vacation house with her and we both ordered fried food for dinner one night to satisfy a craving. Our due dates were about a week apart so I was close to 8 weeks and she was going on 7 weeks.

About a week later Anna began to spot a little. I was afraid immediately because I had recently experienced a miscarriage and the circumstances felt familiar to me. I prayed for God to ease my fears, I prayed for this baby of Anna’s to continue to develope. When the spotting didn’t stop and the morning sickness did stop Anna told me she didn’t feel pregnant anymore. She made an appointment for an ultrasound and I prayed.

When the doctor told her that the baby had stopped developing and that she should have a d&c, I prayed. I prayed that God would show the doctor and the ultrasound to be wrong. I confess that I even prayed the He would give me the miscarriage and Anna the baby. It’s not that I didn’t want to be pregnant, it’s more that I wanted Anna to be spared the loss. It was unfair that she should suffer a loss while I already had a healthy baby.

Anna had the d&c, something I had avoided with my miscarriage because it happened “naturally.” At first we talked about our experience with miscarriage, compared the d&c route to the “natural” route, much as we compared pregnancy experiences. I tried to avoid saying things that used the words “God’s plan” or “Nature’s way.” I tried to be encouraging to her when she was grieving, acknowledging her feelings and standing close when she asked that of me. I tried to not talk about being pregnant anymore even though time and the growing baby I was carrying were a constant reminder, a blinking light in her face.

“We ought to be able to navigate this” was all that came to me, nothing more. I did not know what to say and what not to say. Often I chose to remain silent and she became more silent. I could see the grief on her face as the months wore on just as she saw the joy in mine as my due date grew closer. A wise mutual friend suggested that there had to be room in our friendship for her grief and my joy but I’m not sure we were able to arrange our emotional furniture enough to discover that room.

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3 thoughts on “Cry Together: Crowded Rooms in Empty Spaces

  1. Grief is like that. It doesn’t play well with other emotions. Others’ grief is humbling and frustrating because there is no encouragement we can give; we’re as powerless to help the griever as we are in the face of death itself. Infertility is hard because it’s hard to know where you are in your story. Is this the miscarriage before the healthy pregnancy, or is this the beginning of the end of hope? Nobody knows, not for a long time, where they are in their own story. Grief humbled your friend, but grief rarely humbles the joyful.

  2. Thanks for your post, Joy! This is all very good although I disagree about that last line. I feel incredibly humbled by the grief I have encountered in my relationships with friends who struggle with this issue. In fact, if anything what I have felt most in my walk with Anna IS a large degree of humbling.

    I feel as though when Grief and Joy walk into the same room, Joy MUST be humbled because of the very nature of Grief itself. Joy cannot assert herself and command the attention of the room, it is not appropriate in the face of Grief. Perhaps this is what you are saying and I’m just not getting it…

    But then, my question is…what becomes of Grief? Does Grief give way to something else at some point? Hope? Anger? Bitterness? Joy?

    Maybe a more accurate statement would be that Grief humbles us while Joy rarely humbles us.

  3. I agree it is very hard to arrange the furniture so that joy and grief can share the room when the flash point of both is the same–a baby. I never mended the friendships lost when a couple of women had babies and I didn’t. They formed their playgroups, their lives changed. Mine stayed the same. We just weren’t in the same place, and by the time I got there, our kids were different ages and I had my own playgroups. You would hope your loss would help the two of you find common ground, but it can be very hard to overlook the big belly before you and the baby once born–impossible. I wasn’t that strong.

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