Photo courtesy Alyssa Himmel

When You're Trying, And The World Is A Pregnancy Announcement

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Romper's Trying project follows five women with very different stories through a year of trying to conceive. Where discussions about fertility often focus on the end goal, they'll document what it's like emotionally, physically, and spiritually before you get there — the anxiety, the hope, the ovulation kits, the tests. How do you function when getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term isn't a given? Read on for one woman's answer to that question.

Alyssa experienced a miscarriage during her first pregnancy, and she and her husband are still trying. This is the third installment of her Trying diary. Read the previous entry here.

Grief is multi-faceted. One day, you’ve risen above it; you feel empowered, hopeful and strong-willed. On another, one of your best friends announces a surprise pregnancy and you’re back at rock bottom. (You may or may not have turned to Coldplay, tearfully looping “Fix You” on your 7 a.m. morning commute, too.) Until I miscarried, I had never experienced multiple emotions simultaneously. Feeling elated for a friend while also feeling like you’re drowning in sorrow can happen. Maybe you’ve heard the platitudes: Time heals all wounds; This, too, shall pass. Life is a highway. (Wait, no.) Gag. They all sound like the most clichéd Taylor Swift songs ever written. I don’t know if you can tell, but, after these last two hellish months, patience is no longer my strong suit and neither is faking a reaction to anything corny or trite.

You try your best not to compare, but fail. You plaster on a smile and listen to nearly an hour of your friend poring over when the baby is due, how she broke the news to her parents, how she wasn’t even trying to get pregnant and doesn’t even know how it happened. (See: “Miracle of Life” video from middle school health class.) Even worse? She tells us this on girls’ weekend, a getaway I originally signed up for to take my mind off the hellscape that was pregnancy numero uno. I deserved a relaxing weekend. Instead, at a fancy dinner I’m listening to a pregnancy announcement. I gulp my wine because, unlike her, I can. It takes everything I have not to burst into hysterics or turn into a raging jealous bitch. No matter how confident and secure I am as a person, this evening has a smattering of This would only happen to me to it.

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Himmel

I would later apologize for seeming aloof at such a momentous development. I would tell her how happy I am—and I am, I promise—but wish it was something we could experience together. She’s entitled to shout her news from the rooftops…and I’m entitled to my own feelings on the matter. So, instead of distracting from her moment, I excuse myself to the bathroom and cry until I’m weak on the floor. Then I compose myself, shake it off and return to the dinner table. Thank God for waterproof mascara.

In the era of Facebook, I constantly see people posting that they are expecting, seemingly conceiving with ease. One girl from high school is already onto her fifth child!

I delete social media apps every time I see another pregnancy announcement. Every baby-name hashtag — only four months in, mind you — elicits a groan. In the era of Facebook, I constantly see people posting that they are expecting, seemingly conceiving with ease. One girl from high school is already onto her fifth child! Then, months pass, and so comes the avalanche of smiling, laughing professional infant photos, and powdered elbows on monogrammed blankets with a numbered prop in the background showing the baby’s age. How do they make it all look so easy?

Dear reader, I’m glad you asked.

Our society has become conditioned to spin (as in: spin-artist). We curate our every moment on social media to feature only the positive things: the picturesque vacations; the Pinterest-worthy wedding photos; the Michelin-rated meals. We relegate the struggle, the pain, the disappointments to our desktop’s trash bin. (I’ll admit, previously, I did just the same.) Struggles yield raw emotion, some I didn’t even know I had. Each and every one of these women have their own battles; fertility just may not be one of them.

I remind myself of what I have instead of dwelling on what I lack.

And as much as I try to “live my best life,” my social media hiatus lasts 48 hours. I re-download all of the apps and click for a refreshing dose of salt in the wound. What can I say? I’m a junkie.