The harder accomplishment? Not the getting pregnant. The telling my wife’s less-than-supportive parents that we are having a baby. Planning to have a baby. Conceived and lost the baby.
I don’t know what would have been harder: telling them we were about to have a healthy child, or telling them that we lost a baby after our 12 week ultrasound.
Her sister has been in Jamaica for almost 4 months. She is our buffer. For better or worse, she is our ally in this, and has been advocating on our behalf; pushing our names into the conversation, foregrounding our family values via her own beautiful daughters’ closeness with their aunties (especially my wife, who is L’s ‘best friend’). Sister has done the hard, face-to-face work of making us into people, rather than letting us be the hushed secret, awkward lull in the conversation.
After too many smashed hopes and dreams, hurt and regret over life moments with less love and support than we had (betting on a dark horse) hoped for from the overseas family, and a wedding day that left something to be desired in that department, … plane tickets changed, dresses bought, hopes raised and ultimately squashed…
we got a huge surprise when, after weeks of wondering whether, if and when, to tell her mother about our miscarriage, we had the conversation. The voice and face on the phone during our facetime conversation was one of support and sadness for our loss. Guided by Y’s questions and segues, we navigated the difficult parts with sighs, gracefully, and even with humour.
I was relieved beyond words to see the mending take place, as Allia was able to lift some of this weight off. To share her loss. To tell her mother how much her absence pained her during this time. My mom was away and throughout the time, at 33 years old, all I wanted was a hug from my mother. Enough to say it out loud, through tears. I cannot imagine, except to watch the love of my life go through it, in front of my eyes, how much this experience is transformed by the fear and foreboding that your pain will not register with the people who love you. That they will witness it coldly, or turn away when you need them most.
This did not happen. Daughters need their mothers, if that is who their heart is craving. Hearts need whoever taught them to beat. Whoever that was.
Moving forward, I feel more hopeful, that having experienced sadness, we might now look forward to sharing that joy in the next iteration of this journey. Now my clenched fists, clammed up heart and protective shell might soften … a little. Because I am a softy. Few people know this. I put up a good front. A walled kingdom, me against a whole country, an attitude, a feeling of being unwelcome. A front; the sign that says ‘this doesn’t affect me.’ but voicelessness does affect us; it erases us, undercuts us, makes us feel powerless. And the worst is the feeling that I can’t make this better for the person who matters most to me. I can’t rhetoric away years of culture, bias and conditioning. All my best tools, the ones that have served me before, are useless here. Because family hears family. I am on the outside.
It seems like a lousy solution. This false front. The wall is subtle protection against something close, closer, to home. Ineffective. When all we really wanted was to be embraced, for real. To share and be seen, human, in our suffering. You can’t see someone behind a wall. So it had to come down, even if it meant risking pie in the face, or stones thrown at from glass houses. Or any other metaphor that might fit. Down is the only way. Humbly.
So that now we can look back. Level. Square. And project hope forward.