Nous pardonnons souvent à ceux qui nous ennuient, mais nous ne pouvons pardonner à ceux que nous ennuyons. (We often forgive those who bore us, but we cannot forgive those whom we bore) – François de La Rochefoucauld.
When I was young and hopeful, and had Spring in my heart, many, oh, so many moons ago now, I read a great heap of pregnancy and parenting books. Most of them were embarrassingly poorly-written and patronising (or, more benevolently, written for the lowest common denominator. Unfortunately, I belong to the highest common factor). A few were vaguely amusing (I wish I’d made a note of the amusing ones. Though I note no one has had the common-sense and decency to write one for the Infertility/RPL crowd, which will mostly say things like ‘fuck everyone else. You ARE entitled’).
One thing in particular I remember from one of the amusing ones (damned if I can remember the title). Eventually, I got to the chapter about subsequent children. It read, in it’s entirety, ‘No-one gives a toss about your second pregnancy.’
And I laughed my arse off. Just the week before, a friend had been complaining that when she was pregnant with her first, her hovering husband had not so much as let her pick up her own mug of cocoa lest she dissarrange her precious abdominal contents. Heavily pregnant again, this time with unweildy toddler in tow who had learnt the protest art of Going Limp At Awkward Moments, her husband would glance up from his paper to see her wrestling with the full laundry basket and Toddler The Boneless (who would be screaming like a banshee) and ask, anxiously ‘you did remember to pick up all my black socks off the floor, didn’t you?’
Then I showed H the chapter and jovially threatened to murder him if he ever pulled any such shenanigans. Ahh, happy hope-filled days of youth.
Anyway, that brisk little joke chapter, it recrudesces, these days. Not because I am pregnant with a second, oh, hahahahaha. But because I am not pregnant with my eighth – at least, I don’t think I am, we’ll find out Easter weekend, won’t we? (did I mention I ovulated on Friday? Day 19? Cool, huh?). I’ve had so many stupid crappy little early miscarriages, and because there are so many of them, and because they are stupid crappy little early ones, no one gives a toss about them anymore.
I’m not talking about my Internet Gentle Readers, of course. You lot DO care, because you’re intelligent and kind and interesting and interested, Lord knows why, but you are, you dear dear people. Great swathes of loved ones in the Real World? Not so much. No, not so much.
My first miscarriage, my in-laws even remembered to email me to say they were sorry. The second (that everyone knew about. I tend not to bother most people with chemicals)? Well, I think they emailed H. The third? That started on their living-room couch? Only thing they said to me about it was a painfully ambiguous set of remarks about being sorry I’d had to leave early at Christmas. The one just before Christmas this year? I think H’s Dad said something vaguely polite in response to H’s email to them about it, to H. They don’t know about the Valentine chemical. Most people don’t.
It’s not just the in-laws, of course. We’re going to see them next weekend, so naturally I am making them the target of my Weltschmerz. There are others, people who allegedly care for me, friends I’ve known since my teens, family members who I used to be very close to, favourite aunts and the like, who simply don’t talk to me about this. Or anything else much, any more. Ah, grief, how it brings families together and strengthens ties.
My mother, bless her (she snarled), back in January, said to me ‘well, I suppose they’re not so bad any more, because you’re used to them.’ So there’s that.
(It’s both bollocks and not bollocks, anyway. Yes, I am used to them, I don’t go to pieces as such, they’re less individually traumatic. No, it’s worse every time, even the chemicals, because of the grinding, miserable hopelessness and disappointment and rage, that gets exponentially more skull-crushing each time).
Oh, and of course, there’s the arseholery that passes for wisdom among the common populace, which I can’t help but feel contributes to the Avoidance. The whole ‘miscarriages are very common, you know. One in four/three/ten/whateverthefuckthetabloidsquotedlast pregnancies end in miscarriage, often before the woman knows she was pregnant‘ thing that people keep saying to me. To which, I am always too, well, too well-bred also flabberghasted to answer correctly. The correct answer is: ‘A) Well, I knew I was pregnant, so fuck off, and B) having a parent die is extremely common. Most of us will outlive our parents. If you were to point this out to someone whose Dad had just died, you would deserve to be torn to shreds by wolverine. And spat on. By cobras. And fire-ants. Also lice. And never get laid again, ever. OK, so RPL is not the same, no way the same, nowhere near the same league, as losing a parent, but still, it’s heart-breakingly hard and vile, so shut your compassionless pie-hole.’
But I still don’t know what to say to the people who have nothing to say to me. I don’t think I really know what I want them to say to me. Perhaps if they say anything I’ll shriek and run from the room.
But no, generally, no-one gives a toss about your seventh miscarriage.