Spoiler alert for “How I Met Your Mother” episode “Daisy” aired on March 10. And spoilers for “How I Met Your Mother” in general.
About a year ago, Arthur and I were hunting around on Netflix for a new TV show to watch. Ever since Arthur had gotten the entire Numb3rs series on DVD for Christmas one year, we had discovered that we really liked watching shows that way. Episodes of TV shows were perfect for the evenings when we were home from work and wanted something watch together but weren’t ready to invest the time in a whole movie since the episodes were typically shorter. We also found that the shows tended to have more of a flow since there wasn’t a week (or more) between episodes and we could follow the stories better.
We wound up watching a couple of episodes of How I Met Your Mother and got hooked. Since Arthur and I met and started dating in high school, we found ourselves smiling at Marshall and Lily, two of the protagonists whose long-running romance is one of the show’s main sources of both laughs and a certain genuine sweetness.
Thanks to having started watching the show years after it premiered, we knew from the previews of current episodes that would air on TV that Marshall and Lily had a baby, and made sure we timed watching some of those episodes when we were in a space to watch them. I was actually pleasantly surprised when the writers showed Marshall and Lily not getting pregnant immediately and even making a visit to an RE, although it turned out that they didn’t suffer from infertility.
As of this current and final season of the show, Arthur and I were at last caught up and started watching episodes as they aired. Even though this season has felt somewhat slow to me, I’m invested enough in the characters that I’m curious how things turn out for them and look forward to watching each episode with Arthur.
Then came the episode a couple of weeks ago. Normally, I can spot a pregnancy announcement coming from the proverbial mile away. Since the whole infertility mess started, it’s almost like I developed a sixth sense reading the signs with regards to pregnancies, whether in real life, virtual, or fictional. I don’t know what it is, but it’s there.
That sense a couple of weeks ago? Yeah, total fail.
What happened was this: we were sitting on the couch, happily watching. Then Ted pulled the positive pregnancy test out from where Lily had hidden it, and I heard Arthur audibly gasp as we both stared at the screen, unable to look away. The tears welled up in my eyes, and glanced over at him. His face was starting to crumple, and I felt myself start to sob.
Most days, all I want is a baby. I don’t care how it happens. I’ve figured out that it’s not likely to happen the usual way for us, and I’m okay with that. At this point, I just want it to happen.
But this episode, it was like a laundry list of every normal moment we will probably never get to have. Every normal moment that we had slowly let go of, laid to rest, come to terms with, was suddenly playing in front of me, almost in horrible slow motion. The moment of feeling nauseous, of suddenly realizing what that nausea might mean. Taking a pregnancy test and watching it show the positive. Having a secret. Getting to tell my husband that we’re going to have a baby. The confidence that in nine months, we will have a baby.
The part though, that made me cry for almost an hour once the episode ended, that still brings tears to my eyes thinking about it was Marshall’s reaction to finding out about the pregnancy. It’s been a running gag throughout the show how much Marshall wanted several children, and Arthur and I always found ourselves chuckling at it because it rings so true for us. One of the things I’ve known about Arthur since I met him sixteen years ago was how much he wanted children. Yes, even as a teenager, Arthur knew he wanted kids.
Marshall happily gives up on a huge career-related dream, telling Lily that because of this pregnancy, she is already giving him his biggest dream.
My heart shattered into millions of pieces.
Because I don’t know if I can ever give Arthur that dream.
Most days, we can both be rational about that possibility. We hope fervently that something will work for us, we know that if it doesn’t, we’ll figure out a way forward with or without children. We’ll find a way to heal. We’ve found common ground without kids for sixteen years so far, and we’ll continue to do so.
But, oh, seeing it play out so exactly the way both of us had hoped it would happen for us, it hurt so, so badly. It reawakened all those memories, the ones where I’d secretly fantasized how I’d tell Arthur I was pregnant, how it would be a special moment. How we’d get to shoot those glances at each other as I surreptitiously avoided having a glass of wine with friends or family. How we’d announce to our families and friends that we were having a baby.
Barring a miracle at this point, that won’t happen for us. Instead, there will be embryo transfers. There will be betas. There will be ultrasounds and tests and progesterone and worry. There won’t be a sense of security even leaving the first trimester, because I was told that once I’d passed that eight week ultrasound with flying colors, I had only a 5-7% chance of miscarrying. And once you’ve been in that crappy minority, you know it can happen again. That it doesn’t matter if it’s the second or the third trimester, there is always that chance. That it does happen.
Don’t get me wrong. All that stuff – in so many ways, it won’t matter to me if we get our baby, or at least, we’ll figure out a way to work through it. If we don’t get our baby, like I said, I know we’ll mourn and figure out a way forward.
It’s more that we don’t know right now. The FET could work, or the next IVF could work, or we could have that miraculous surprise. Or we could have another moment where neither of us can breathe for the crushing sadness. We are in a perpetual limbo, a state of being off balance. Both of us bracing for the next blow, yet still feeling oddly hopeful.
Watching that scene play out on TV, it probed the scars of what we have actually lost at this point and they ached. But the worst, the most painful, it ripped open the wounds of exactly what it is that we still might lose. How much pain we still have the potential to go through.
How do you heal when you’re still acquiring new wounds?