It comes out of nowhere. There you are, merrily going about your business when all of a sudden you are confronted with the last thing an infertile woman wants to see – a baby bump. You can run, but you can’t hide. They are everywhere: in the mall, out on the street, at your appointments, even in your workplace, following you around and taunting you. Taunt may seem like a strong word, but think about it, what is more in-your-face than a woman with a huge protruding belly? It’s the sort of thing even the least observant person can’t help but notice. And the belly just invites conversation about due dates, sex of the baby, pregnancy symptoms and plans for after the baby is born. So not only do you have to look at it, often you have to hear about it too and it becomes a full on assault on the senses.
In my case, I feel fortunate that for the first two years we were trying, I did not take bumps personally. However, once I had my miscarriage, all bets were off and I could never look at a bump the same way again. It is one thing to try for a baby and hope to become pregnant, however once you have actually been pregnant and had a tantalizing taste of what was to come, only to lose the pregnancy, a baby bump takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes a stark reminder of what you could have had. It becomes personal.
It was especially difficult to face bumps during my “phantom pregnancy”, or the time between my miscarriage and due date. Periodically I would see a woman who looked to be about the same size I should have been and looking at her, all I could think was that she had something I so desperately wanted and would never have (not this time anyways). Probably my worst baby bump viewing happened in December when I was nearing the end of the two-week wait for my sixth IUI. While my pregnancy blood test was the following day, I already knew I wasn’t pregnant. Not only had I gotten a negative on my home pregnancy test that morning (at which point 98% of pregnancies would be detected), my basal body temperature had tanked the last few days, which was a sure sign my period was on its way.
I had my weekly acupuncture appointment that afternoon. My acupuncturist specializes in infertility, and has a library of books about conception and infertility in the waiting room, which I usually enjoy flipping through while I’m waiting. I was looking forward to having a browse, however on this day there was a man and his young daughter sitting in the two seats closest to the bookshelf and I felt awkward reaching over them to browse the books, so I just sat down and waited for my appointment. While I was waiting, the man’s wife came out of the treatment room, and I was confronted with a heavily pregnant woman.
The man and his daughter got called back to the treatment room to learn about proper massage techniques for those last days of pregnancy, while the woman went to pay. As she was paying, another man came in for his appointment who happened to know her, and during their conversation, I learned that not only was the woman due in a week (yes, exactly when I should have been due), but the man’s wife had her own bump at home, as she was five months pregnant (with their second!). And here I was, just waiting for official confirmation that I was not pregnant again.
My session that day wasn’t with the acupuncturist I usually see, and while she would have no idea about the miscarriage timing, I did tell her I was pretty sure the IUI hadn’t worked. She ended up extending my session by ten minutes as an apology for “the confusion at the start of your appointment”, which I think was code for “Sorry about the bump”.