Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Pregnant Elephant In The Room

If you are expecting my story to be all smiles and smooth sailing, stop reading right now.  When you are in a situation like this, there are many facets to the problem.  I was lulled into a sense of isolated eutopia in Key West.  No one really knew what was happening outside of my family and a few scant church members from home.  I never ran into anyone unexpectedly.  There were no awkward meetings with people who hadn't seen me in a while.  I was anonymous on my southernmost island and I rather liked it that way, that is until I drove up to Orlando to see my friend and her family. 

She was very supportive, I had filled her in early on in my journey so there were no surprises.  It wasn't the conversation that I was hesitating on, it was the body language and the awkwardness of her seeing me face-to-face that I was dreading.  People can give away much more in their posturing and facial expressions than they can ever realize.  I spent 10 years in sales negotiations as a career.  I was paid to translate the unspoken conversation and I was exceptional at at it.  Most of my successes in business transactions were because I positioned against what was never said.  It was great for my commission checks but it can be a bummer in real life.  Sometimes, I lament that I notice so much more than everyone else.  This was one of those times I that wished my eccentric talent would vanish.

The time came for our meeting.  I drove to her parents' house and Carli and I piled out of the car after 9 long hours on the road.  There it came.  Not from my friend, from her husband.  The painted smile.  It was something more of a grimace.  That 'No, I don't notice anything' smile that lets you that they don't know what to do with the situation.  She greeted me with a warm smile and compassionate hug.  I'd later find out that her kids were verbally threatened against asking and questions or making comments.  The children said nothing but they avoided me like I had a scary disease they might catch.  I wasn't hoping for much more than that.  I settled in and hoped that the weekend would go by faster than I could wish it away.  I wanted to go home already. I longed for my island bubble that I could hide in until Alex was born.  It was safe there and free from judgement. 

Her parents arrived a few hours later from work. Everyone avoided the one topic that would usually garner it's own conversation, my giant belly.  Women who are great with child can usually command a room.  It is a nice jumping off point with a person whom you don't know.  Talk about the baby.  When are you due?  What are you having?  Do you have a name?  Easy things to start with but not if you know that the mother-to-be isn't keeping her child.  Where do you go from there?  You avoid the conversation all together.  It's kind of like pretending not to notice that someone has a prosthetic limb.  You know it's there, they know it's there.  You know it's diffferent, they know it's different.  Everyone tries to avoid looking at it or pointing it out.  I know how amputees feel now. 

I played along with the long pauses while everyone asked how my drive was and if I'd been to Orlando before.  I think we were all glad that I was staying at a hotel that weekend.  There was only so much you can say when you'd rather have another conversation instead.  Carli played with her long lost friends from home, completely unaware of the sorrow that I was enduring in order to make her birthday special.  I emailed Kayla to say that I'd made it safely.  I was desperate to hear from someone who was in my corner.  I became alarmingly aware of how alone I felt in all of this. 

2 comments:

  1. I read through so many of these – so much heart – and wisdom – you are so obviously a strong woman with a heart as mighty as your strength. I'm glad I found you on Twitter – I'm glad you followed back – I'm glad that brought me here to read you. God bless and keep you and your baby – she will always be your baby.

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  2. Craig, thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. It means the world to me.

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