Last night was not a good night. Yesterday was a good day, being the last day of school with students and that dichotomy of best day/worst day, saying goodbye to everyone and knowing that at this time next week, summer will officially be here. But last night? A disaster.
Pregnancy announcements generally don't upset me as much any more, not the way they used to. I have learned to "like" them, and to never, EVER comment directly on the post. That results in a flood of notifications and then I'm reminded for days of just how much congratulations you get for achieving pregnancy, and of how awful it is to see varying iterations of the comments "welcome to the club" (that I'm left out of), "you'll never know a love like this" (maybe that's true in a way, but does that mean my un-mothered love is shallow???), and others that I don't need to see over, and over, and OVER. I either leave it at a shallow "like," or I post right on their page.
This one, however, was different.
It was weird that it affected me so much, because I knew it was coming. The mama-to-be in question is a cousin of a friend of mine, and my friend let me know the happy news weeks ago.
But it broke something inside me when it was official on Facebook, and I'm trying to figure out why.
Is it because I was 13 when she was born, I remember her beginnings as a baby and now she herself is having a baby?
Is it because I'm going into summer no closer to being a mama myself than at the beginning of the school year and I'm particularly sensitive due to that fact?
Was it the celebratory last-day-of-classes margaritas that made me a little weepy on a day where I was already emotionally drained from all the goodbyes?
These things all contributed, I'm sure. But I think I know the kicker.
The photo announcement was perfectly cute -- a couple with their adorable dog, signs saying how the dog was so good that he's getting a human for Christmas. Adorable. Pin.terest-worthy.
But then...she also proudly held up her ultrasound. A small black-and-white picture, a circle of dark fluid, and a bright white little blip, a sac.
It wasn't the biggest thing in the announcement photo as a whole. It wasn't as blatant as someone I know who announced the sex of her unborn child by, I kid you not, photoshopping a princess crown on a second trimester ultrasound picture. Is this a feature in Sna.pchat? What the hell is going on?
It caused a swiftly downward spiral. I wasn't surprised, I knew. It wasn't the announcement of the news itself. It was that goddamn sac ultrasound.
I couldn't help but think of my own picture, of a much smaller sac, but similar dynamics--smaller black void, smaller white blip, and then knowing that that was the ONLY picture of something growing somewhat normally inside of me I'd ever, ever have.
It hit me like a smack to the face with a two-by-four, this image that multiplied like a zillion Warhols, like the way a fly would see an ultrasound picture that was mine, one that ended not in a gender reveal but in bed rest that didn't work, in plummeting values, in animal sobs so loud I wondered if the neighbors were going to call the police. An image that is the only proof that once I was pregnant in my uterus, that once I had hope this could all be behind me, and that was the only experience I ever got. And that picture was taken on the day I bled, to prove maybe it would be okay. It wasn't.
I got real silent and weird at our Mexican restaurant. Bryce asked what was making me so sad and I told him, rather snappily, that I didn't want to talk about it there, in the restaurant. And when we got in the car, I cried. It started quiet and silent, and then just built up to this crescendo of sorrow, this overwhelming feeling of grief in what could-have-been, and I couldn't stop.
I cried for an hour. I cried until I couldn't breathe. It was like mourning that loss all over again, but now with the added slashes of having ended treatment, pregnancy impossible...waiting through adoption and having the one-year mark fast upon us without a match...having our profile with the couple who Snowflakes sent us and waiting to see if they choose us, if they choose our embryos to complete their family. It's a lot to mourn.
Did people used to share early ultrasound pictures before Faceb.ook? I remember seeing one on a friend's fridge, but that seems so much more private. I wonder if anyone ever considers that there are so many women out there who have seen that picture, only to have it ripped away. I don't quite understand this growing trend. Thankfully it doesn't appear to be the profile picture, because that really gets me. Then I don't have a choice, I have to see it, unless I forgo social media (which is seeming like a better idea all the time).
I don't even really like the later ultrasound pictures, especially the creepy 3-D ones. Those I've always hated, not just because I'm bitter but because for some reason, I feel a baking baby is not supposed to be seen in such detail. They look alien. You can sort of see their face before they're born, and people have conversations about noses and eyes and resemblances that really stymie me, because I often don't even see those when the newborn is out and about in the world. Maybe I'm weirdly traditional in this way.
The early scans, though...I feel like there should be more sensitivity. I don't want to take away someone's joy, but is it necessary to include the insides of your uterus, the unrecognizable-as-human blip in the middle? Couldn't that live on your fridge? Why share something so personal, so fragile?
I almost included my own picture here, as a contrast...but that would be hypocritical, right? What if my picture triggered someone else? Mine isn't a joyful image. It isn't a picture of promise, of parenthood to be. It's a representation of impending death. It's a could-have-been, not a what-will-be. And it's personal.
I want to live in the bubble where these things don't happen, where a sac is a photo of promise, not one that was broken.
No, I don't, now that I think on it. It's an insensitive bubble. Not wittingly, but born out of this idea that everything will work out, as I hope it does. It's just that sometimes (more than sometimes) it doesn't, and for those people an ultrasound picture like that triggers all kinds of emotions. To be oblivious to the possibility of that pain is to be oblivious of the possible pain of others who have lost.
I don't want to spend my Friday night wailing about how my uterus is a killing field. I don't want to be reminded that that will never, ever be for me. That once I had a picture not too different from that one, and it was all I had to cling to when I sobbed and sobbed after the dream was lost too soon.
These are the unintended consequences to a joyous announcement, one that might not have caused this level of angst if not for that tiny 3x5 black and white photo. To me, it's an unnecessary addition...and announcements without those grainy pictures of early life are beautiful on their own, maybe even more so. You don't need it like forensic evidence in the shot. We believe you without it.