Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Party animals

A while ago I got a call from the brother of a very good friend from college. He was having his second 21st birthday party (having not been able to celebrate the first 21st birthday properly, as he was in the Army), and could we come?

We said sure. Never mind that the party was at least 9 hours away by car. We went anyway, I suspect largely because we want to do roadtrips while we still can.

It was a fun party, with lots of comestibles and games of Cosmic Wimpout (which I played) and Mao (which I did not). Not being able to partake of some of the refreshments, I wasn't as outgoing as I often am at parties; I even fell asleep on the couch in the middle of everything for a while. By the end, my pregnancy was not very secret. Lots of people wished us well.

My college friend, C., and her husband I. have a ten-month-old who is too cute for words. They went through several different kinds of hell for him to be here. The first time C. got pregnant, the fetus died, but nothing much happened after that. She's a doctor, and had to go to a colleague to see about a D&C. He kept putting her off, telling her to wait for it to pass naturally. It didn't. She carried a dead fetus for a month until she finally went to someone else.

It became clear that she had fibroid tumours in her uterus, so she had to have surgery to remove them. The surgery rendered her unable to conceive by traditional means, so she and I. had to go through all the awfulness of infertility treatments: hormone injections, egg extraction, and finally the IVF procedure (which has only about a 20% chance of working). Miracle of miracles, it did, and little Ewan the Butterball joined us last March. I. jokes that when Ewan starts to ask the inevitable "Where did I come from?" questions, they'll tell him, "Well, first Mommy and Daddy went to see the reproductive endocrinologist..."

I told her how scared I was that I'd miscarry again. She said she understood. I'm sure she understands better than most people do. In the grand scheme of things, one little missed abortion is not that big a deal; it just shows that the body knows what to do when things go wrong in the development of the fetus. But it happened just when I was starting to let my guard down and think maybe, maybe a real baby is coming to us, just when we were starting to talk about concrete plans for a nursery and work schedules that would enable us to look after a child, just when my body was changing enough that I was starting to buy new clothes. I have an expensive pair of black wool maternity pants that I've never worn. They hang there in the closet reminding me of what could have been. (What kind of cruel maternity shop doesn't take returns?)

I'm terrified to let my guard down again and let myself enjoy the knowledge that there is a baby growing in me. Maybe I'll feel better when we hear the heartbeat in mid-March.

On the way home from the party, I drove for the first three hours. I took us as close to the house where I grew up as I've been for nearly fourteen years. I drove along the stretch of two-lane highway that I've been up and down at least 3,000 times. The area had changed far less than I'd expected, except for my high school, which is now more than twice as big as it was when I graduated half a lifetime ago. I pulled into the parking lot and started to sob.

Damned if I can tell you why.

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