By Kirsten Reitter DeSorbo
A few days following our second miscarriage, my family and I walked down to our local coffee shop to enjoy a Sunday morning treat. I had just spent the past few days doing my best to parent our 2 ½ year-old daughter when all I wanted to do was retreat under my covers and cry and cry and cry. This, again? Are you f%#&ing kidding me? (The first one, just five months prior, had been a doozey. A long, drawn-out nightmare complete with medical complications, only to end up with an emergency D&C. Good times.) Matt and I needed to cheer ourselves up and revel in the miracles we already had–each other; our daughter, Olive; and her four-pawed brother, Murray.
We got to talking with a mom at the table next to us who was with her infant son. We exchanged pleasantries about chubby babies, silly mutts, and fall in New England. I felt the misery of our recent loss begin to fade. And then it came–the question that would become almost like an infamous chorus line throughout our struggle with unexplained secondary infertility–“So, are you going to have a second?”
Fade to black. Fade to me, sobbing in a Starbucks bathroom, plagued by my self-inflicted sabotage: “Jeeeeeez, sensitive much? Why do you let that get to you? Good God. Put on your big girl panties and GET OVER IT ALREADY. It’s just a simple question.” I was desperate for answers. Desperate to get off this hormone-fueled roller coaster of hope & despair and for our family to feel complete.
Different versions of this scene would play out often throughout the next 2 years. During this time, we found out that many well-meaning people have no idea how hard it can be to have a healthy baby. We learned that miscarriages, while common, can be complicated, painful and expensive. We slogged through unproductive appointments with our RE (“something-is wrong-but-nothing-is-broken” type stuff). We managed instead of celebrated holidays. We got schooled in grief like what not to say and how to sit with pain–our own and others. On one hand, we felt blessed to have our happy and healthy Olive, and on the other, we felt broken by the multiple losses. We were more aware than most that scores of people would be ecstatic to just have one child. We felt immense guilt about that.
If someone had told me, “Listen, you’re going to have another child, but you’re going to have to go to Hell and back to get her,” I would’ve been like, “Okay, Lucifer. Bring it.” But, it’s the not knowing that almost kills you. I still don’t have an answer for the pain and struggle we went through. I don’t think I ever will. So, I’m going to walk in solidarity for those struggling with infertility who are desperate for answers, desperate for just one tiny glimpse into their future. I’m going to walk in solidarity for those who have (or are currently) coming unglued in a public place due to a mis-informed yet well-meaning question. I’m going to walk for my Murray (2002-2014) who never left me alone in my grief. I’m going to walk with Matt and Olive, the ones who stood by me and had my back through it all. And lastly, I’m going to walk with my second daughter, Mavis, who defied all odds, and put my heart back together again.
I hope you’ll come join us!