In which I freely allow all those negative emotions I sometimes feel to flood out. Possibly a little bit of a rant. Consider yourself warned.
A soft snort issued from behind me. “[Name] is pregnant,” Arthur announced, turning away from the open facebook page on the computer.
“Oh, hell.” I responded, not bothering to mask the upset in my voice. “We’ve been married for seven and a half years. They’ve been married for what, seven and a half minutes?”
“I think it’s more like seven and a half months, honey” Arthur corrected me, the wry look on his face and in his tone indicating his agreement with the bitter sentiment.
“But seriously,” I continued, “They got married in July. And for a facebook announcement, they’re probably at least two to three months along. So that means” – here I did a little quick mental math – “they got pregnant within three to four months.” We both knew this particular individual and knew that there was no way that she had started trying until after the wedding.
“It’s not fair,” said Arthur. I turned a little more fully to look at him. In our marriage, Arthur’s the optimist, the one who typically believes things will work out well. He looked discouraged. That was when I realized he had needed to speak out loud the grief and disappointment that had all crystallized with that sudden, unexpected gut-punch.
At one level, I know how awful this whole exchange sounds. We should be happy for fertile friends and family that announce pregnancies, and on one level, we are. We’re happy that their dreams are coming true, we’re happy for what this means for them. But forgive me, when we come home to a dark house with a message from my OB/GYN office on the answering machine to work out plans for the next several months and scheduling an HSG, go sit in the half-rearranged den that we worked out ways to place a crib during those giddy first months of trying to conceive, and with an appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist looming that will cement my status as a woman who cannot conceive ‘normally’, the bitterness and jealousy and anger sometimes flood out.
I’m reminded of a scene from the movie “Bridesmaids”. In it, maid of honor Annie has just been upstaged for the umpteenth time in front of the bride, her best friend Lillian, by Helen, one of the other bridesmaids. Annie’s thoughtful, carefully crafted wedding shower gift consisting of all Lillian’s favorite things from the local shops they grew up with is instantly forgotten when Helen hands Lillian a card that contains airline tickets to Paris, France. For just a moment, the camera pans to Annie who clearly takes a deep breath, and then proceeds to completely lose it. “Are you f**king kidding me?” she snaps. Within minutes, she’s ripping cookies from stands, throwing things, and generally expressing months of pent-up rage. If you’ve never seen it (and have a tolerance for some pretty strong language), it’s a great scene.
I get it. “Bridesmaids” in general explores that difficult, nebulous territory surrounding women and big milestone events. While it’s about a wedding, I think the emotional terrain of “how come she’s getting what she wants and I’m still stuck in this suckfest” is not terribly dissimilar with pregnancies. There are times that pregnancy announcements, particularly those where someone notes how quickly they got pregnant, honestly have me wanting to throw my hands in the air and yell (instead of the obligatory congratulations): “Are you f**king kidding me?”
People don’t want to hear this. Perhaps there are those out there that are recoiling a bit. There’s a powerful taboo against admitting insecurity, jealousy, and rage as a reaction to someone’s happy news. “Why can’t you just be happy for me and then go home and talk behind my back later like a normal person?” Lillian shouts at Annie during the zenith of the fight. In a sense, that’s what I’m doing. Smiling, congratulating, and then writing a somewhat snarky blog post about what I really think. I’m sorry if this is too bitter or too frank, but venting this out is sometimes the only thing that allows me to stand by, paste an enormous smile on my face and give the expected congratulatory response.
However, not all pregnancy announcements are created equal, and those emotions differ pretty vastly depending on the person and the announcement. I’ll get into that tomorrow.