Arrivals and Departures

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I’m standing at the edge of October, and I’m just not yet ready to dip my toes into November. I hate November. I believe it is the saddest, coldest month of all.

My cabaret company just produced and performed our first Halloween show, and I was amused to see how the show took over our entire household. My girlfriend sank her teeth into making some serious props (like a full-sized werewolf pelt), my boyfriend is still picking glitter out of his beard, and the girls are picking happily through the piles of tutus, pirate hats, and kitty cat ears in search of their Halloween costumes. My whole family got in on the pre-show prep action. I just hope it doesn’t grow old soon.

Two of my very dear friends have just had babies. Their first babies. One had a beautiful little girl, and the other a boy. I was at the hospital for the birth of the boy, and stayed in the room right up until she started pushing. She and her husband were incredible. She was stoic and brave, and he was supportive and positive. It was a real treat to be there. I spent the day filled with excitement, anxiety, and something else…something I couldn’t pinpoint until another dear friend texted to ask how I was holding up.

At first I thought it was strange that she would ask after me, and then I remembered why. I think it’s really positive that I wasn’t immediately aware.

Four years ago I had a miscarriage. It was fairly early into my last relationship. We weren’t always meticulously careful because he had told me that his sperm count was really low because he’d survived testicular cancer (I found out later that his previous girlfriend got pregnant the same way.) He didn’t think he could ever have kids, which was fine for me at the time because the place I was in was so dark that things like family and children seemed like a far away dream. I didn’t think I wanted them anymore.

Until my period wouldn’t go away, and until the home pregnancy test was glaringly positive. In that moment, my life changed.

Against all logic I was overjoyed. Timing couldn’t be worse, I had my doubts about the relationship, but I was going to be a mom. Sadly, my ex didn’t share my joy. He made it clear in no uncertain terms that he didn’t want to be a daddy. And so, we began discussing what we were going to do.
Then, the decision was made for me.

When you are in the emergency ward, with an unexpected pregnancy, and you’re leaning on the “we’re just not sure if we’re going to proceed with this “ side of the fence, people could give a shit about you having a miscarriage. It seems that they decide that you must be relieved and proceed accordingly, because hands down, every medical professional and doctor I saw during this week-long period treated me with utter coldness. Except for the technician at the clinic where I had my ultrasound who didn’t bother to read my chart properly, and decided to show me my dying fetus with complete delight.

I was still spotting, there was no fetal heartbeat, and my hormone levels were dropping.

They prescribed a medication that would cause spontaneous abortion in the comfort of my own home. This didn’t work, but DID cause some of the most horrific cramping I’ve ever experienced. The final step was a D & C, which if you don’t know, is a procedure where they put you under general anesthetic and scrape out the contents of your womb. This remains the single worst experience of my entire life.

Instead of taking a girlfriend or my aunt who graciously offered to come with me, I decided to go to the hospital with my boyfriend, who left me there for a doctor’s appointment of his own. (I’m convinced that he got a vasectomy that day, but that’s a separate entry altogether). The nurse who set up my drip had to try FIVE times before she could find a vein, and had no problem scraping around inside my arm to do so. They took away both my contact lenses and my glasses before they wheeled me into the OR so I couldn’t see anything, and I awoke in recovery totally alone, shivering from the anesthetic with only the hand-knit slippers my mom made to comfort me.

In Ontario, they aren’t able to tell you why you’ve had a miscarriage until you’ve had three. Yes, three. After experiencing one, while not even trying to get pregnant, I can’t imagine going through it again, and certainly not twice more.

People say things like “these things are more common than you think” or “it doesn’t necessarily mean there will be problems later” or “it just wasn’t meant to be” but these phrases are totally meaningless, and definitely not helpful.

Maybe it was a progesterone deficiency. Or maybe it happened because the universe knew that a baby would tie me to my ex forever. Whatever it was, it has left me feeling broken.

I want so badly to just be able to celebrate the joys of my good friends, but underneath my genuine feelings of happiness is an aching so deep that I have to fight to keep it hidden in my bones.

What if I’m damaged? What if I missed my window? What if I’m too old? What if? What if? What if?

I’ve always known what kind of life I want to live. I’ve always known the types of things I want to do. Never have I known anything with as much certainty as this; I want to have a baby, and of all of the remarkable things I’ve had happen in my life, I fear that this is the one and only thing I won’t be able to realize.

And so, because I’m so very grateful for the things I DO have, and because I don’t want to live driven by a need to pro-create, I carry on through my days breathing life into new projects and new creations.

When I got home from the hospital the other night, it was late. I said very little to either of my partners and headed straight to the shower. I emerged wrapped in a fluffy terry towel and I lay down beside my girlfriend. She took one look at me and then folded me in her arms while I began to sob. In four years this was exactly the kind of silent, knowing sympathy I needed, but never found when the wounds were fresh. I’ve never felt so loved.

My life is overflowing with riches. I’m surrounded by beauty, and love, and creativity. I have wonderful friends, incredible family, and a home filled with people who love me. I am so full.

But sometimes I feel so very, very empty.

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  1. Trudy Farmer
    October 30, 2009 / 9:20 pm

    Honey! I had no idea. I understand how painful wondering if you might not be able to have the children you were not yet sure you wanted is. It’s one thing to make that choice, another to find that you may not have one. I read Schnoo regularly, and I think of you more often than you might suspect from a casual acquaintance. You make me think, and I thank you for it. When your (even distant and out of touch) friends want to hug you, you are never alone. I wish you a world of happiness and wonderful surprises for your future.

  2. Mom
    October 31, 2009 / 1:01 pm

    My heart goes out to you Catherine. It was a difficult time of your life but you have grown in many ways because of this sad experience. Life is too short to be unhappy. Grab hold of happiness when it comes your way because we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Always remember that I am here for you whenever you need me.

    Love Mom

  3. ursula yanchak
    November 1, 2009 / 12:49 pm

    You brought tears to my eyes as I shared your eloquent misery.
    Your time will come.
    Have you thought of writing a book? a small rebirth.

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