Sunday, December 17, 2006

Teacup and Sympathy

This morning, Nicole and I went downtown to The Pink Teacup for breakfast. We debated going, since I was so tired, as usual, and couldn’t imagine hauling myself all the way down there, even though they have the best scrambled eggs and home fries in the city. But we did.

Part of the charm of the Teacup—and its downfall, perhaps—is that fact that it is very small. The tables are tiny and stacked right on top of each other. You are sitting elbow-to-elbow with complete strangers. Not nearly as bad as Tea and Sympathy—another favorite haunt—but cramped just the same. If you have to sit on the inside row of chairs, you need to suck your stomach in to prevent yourself from knocking over your new neighbor’s coffee cup or orange juice as you oh-so-delicately tuck yourself into your seat.

This morning, the Teacup was busy and seating options for us were limited. There were a couple of tables available, and for some reason, I chose a table right up front, despite the fact that I don’t really like to sit near the door. Nicole kept pushing for the back table, but I insisted on the front one. Then came the tricky part: Now that I am beginning to feel bigger, I am a little apprehensive about putting myself into tight places. Nicole hates squeezing in more than I do, so I figured I might as well take off my coat and suck in my stomach and wedge myself into the seat.

I made some comment about my stomach and tight jeans to Nicole and the woman seated at the table next to us, reading her paper and eating her eggs and grits, asked me how far along I was. Now this took me aback: I am a pretty forward and open person, but I am not one to insinuate myself into other’s conversations nor am I one to boldly ask someone how many weeks they are. How could she know I was pregnant? I could just be gaining weight. This made me feel warm and fuzzy for a minute because I imagined that maybe just maybe I looked pregnant and not fat (which is how I feel).

I told her (14 weeks today), and a whole conversation ensued. So much for the newspaper we brought to peruse! Turns out this woman was a labor and delivery nurse for 30 years. She had lots of good advice and reassuring words for a paranoid pregnant person such as myself. After rattling off another list of complaints, I told her that I was grateful to be feeling all of this, as it has been a long and rocky road and it took a lot to get here. I told her I had the miscarriages and the ectopic and that I knew I was lucky and shouldn’t complain.

She got it. She didn’t brush it aside, or ignore it or gloss over it. I told her how in my journal that I am diligently trying to keep, I couldn’t fill in the blank for the line that said “Is this your first baby?” I couldn’t write it was my first and second, because they aren't. But I couldn’t handle writing it was my fourth and fifth because it is too sad. I don’t like to touch grief.

She told a sad story of how she had to bury her first child, a son. She had tears in her eyes as she explained how she finally came to peace with it. She said when he died, she buried him and all of the feeling about him and this tragedy with him. It took her decades to (metaphorically) unbury him and deal with the feelings and emotions. She reminded me that we all go through such challenges, and come through to the other side, even if it takes us 20 years.

With that, all of us with tears in our eyes, she got her stuff together to leave. Before she left, she leaned over to give me a hug (and a kiss on my neck and shoulder, which made me a tad uncomfortable, though I knew she meant nothing untoward as she asked earlier if Nicole was my girlfriend!). And then she was off into the unseasonally warm winter's day.

At this point, Nicole was upset in her stoic little way. She couldn’t finish her breakfast because she was upset and her eggs were too runny. (I finished the potatoes, though). It was just such a surreal experience. Nicole said that it was clear that I was drawn to that table and that seat next to her. And it’s kinda true, since there were other better seating options. It’s like we were fated to meet this woman. And to hear her story, and for her to hear ours. To remember that we all go through unspeakable horrors that we hide from the world day-to-day. And to remember that we are so lucky to have these two babies. And not to forget those who we lost.

1 comment:

bri said...

Those moments really are amazing. I am surprised sometimes by whom I tell (I know that I am an open book who will tell anyone anything, but I do have my limits). The one parent in the school who I told about the miscarriage just came in to tell me what her acupuncturist had to say about my situation and I got to cut her off and tell her my news (because frankly, as touched as I am that she cared enough to ask her acupuncturist, I really can't take anyone else telling me how that is the key to infertility). Anyway, I don't know why I told this parent but I am glad I did because I feel like she is looking out for me.

I love those small connections in life.