Prior to my miscarriage, I was an all-around positive, friendly, nice person. I gave everyone the benefit of the doubt, from the rude waitress (maybe she’s worried about her sick kid at home), to the driver who cut me off (maybe he’s distracted by an important deadline), to the apartment manager who never calls me back (he has a full-time job and 3 young kids). I never took anything personally, and genuinely hoped that whatever challenges someone was facing would be quickly overcome.
All that changed when my baby died. Five months after my loss, I learned that my cousin was pregnant. Generally such news would bring me joy, even though the mother-to-be was young and single. But not this time. This was the first pregnancy announcement I had encountered since my loss. I remember it vividly. While picking up a few necessities at Target, I ran into my cousin (not the pregnant one, but her oldest sister). We made small talk for a minute, then she blurted out the news. Immediately my eyes welled with tears, and I said something along the lines of “Oh, that’s great!” She proceeded to tell me that her sister was probably 3 or 4 months along; she didn’t know, because, of course, she wasn’t trying to get pregnant. It was an “accident.” Accident, my ass, I thought.
After we said our goodbyes, all I could think about was how lucky my cousin was to have sailed through her first trimester with not a care in the world. Did she even realize how lucky she was that she hadn’t miscarried? Then I started thinking about how if this pregnancy was an “accident,” she probably hadn’t been taking a prenatal vitamin. She claims she didn’t know she was pregnant for 3 or 4 months, which means she probably had at least a few drinks (and is she a smoker? I can’t remember). Was she at all worried about the baby’s health?
Then I had my first evil thought. I wished she was worried. Worried sick. I hoped that she was beside herself with angst that she may have caused severe trauma to her baby by not taking folic acid or by drinking during her first trimester. I wanted her to be afraid. I didn’t want the baby to be sick or worse, of course. But I wanted her to worry, to realize how stupid she was.
I saw my cousin a few days after that, at her mother’s birthday party, on what would have been my baby’s due date. I didn’t congratulate her, or ask her about the baby. I couldn’t. I was putting all my effort into maintaining my composure and pretending to have a good time. I failed miserably, so I went home early.
A few weeks after that, I was still wishing for her to be worried, even if just for a moment. I’m not proud of this, but I decided to send her an email. I told her I felt bad for ignoring her and not congratulating her. I purposefully mentioned my miscarriage, hoping that might spark a bit of anxiety. I’ll never know if it did.
My cousin gave birth to a healthy baby girl this spring. I dutifully attended her baby shower, but I never asked her about the baby. The first time I saw the baby, I declined to hold her. This is perhaps what I feel most guilty about, for ignoring the baby, a helpless little person who has done nothing to hurt me. No one did anything to hurt me, but I still felt wronged.
The fact is, I’m bitter toward anyone who gets pregnant without trying, or who naively assumes that a positive pregnancy test leads to a baby you get to take home. I don’t wish loss or infertility on anyone, but I do wish that more women treated their fertility with respect.