Stupid Stork wrote a post about infertiles in film and reminded me of a movie I had blocked out of my memory: Away We Go starring Maya Rudolph and John Krasinski. I watched this movie right after I lost the baby. I think. I don’t really remember. I know I watched it but I can’t remember when. All I know is that when I watched a scene she posted on her blog, I had this feeling. It was a feeling like “once upon a time this broke my heart into a million pieces and made me feel like dying.” This feeling usually happens when I remember things that happened either while I was pregnant or after we lost him. That’s not really the point of the story, though.
The point is that the part of the movie she posted on her blog was my favorite then and it’s my favorite now. It’s when they visit their friends in Montreal who have a bunch of adopted kids and this seemingly awesome life. Before they even walk into their house, they are awed by it. They have this gorgeous house, they are grown-ups (compared to how Maya and John’s characters feel about their lives) and obviously have it together. They walk into the house and are greeted with a Sound of Music sing-a-long and the happy chaos of a big happy family. They then go out for an awesome night on the town that makes it seem like this couple has everything they could ever want to be happy. After a lot of drinking, they go out to grab a bite to eat and the guy (played by Chris Messina, who I also love) says this about parenting:
It’s all those good things you have in you. The love, the wisdom, the generosity, the selflessness, the patience. The patience! At 3 A.M. when everyone’s awake because Ibrahim is sick and he can’t find the bathroom and he’s just puked all over Katia’s bed. Patience when you blink, when you blink, and it’s 5:30 and it’s time to get up again and you know you’re going to be tired all day, all week, all your fucking life. And you’re thinking what happened to Greece? What happened to swimming naked off the coast of Greece? And you have to be willing to make the family out of whatever you have.
Then his wife (played by Melanie Lynskey, who I also love so I think I just love everyone in this movie) says the title of this post.
You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be.
She’s talking about parenting but she’s talking about so much more. Later on, it is revealed that she has just recently had her fifth miscarriage. That seemingly perfect life is not so perfect after all and they don’t have everything they’ve ever wanted. Maybe I’m reading way too much into this but I feel like when she says that, she’s not just talking about being a parent this huge family she has created through adoption. I feel like she is also talking about being a parent to those five babies that she lost.
Later on, her husband says:
I know she loves all those kids like, like they were her own blood. But, I wonder if we’ve been selfish. People like us we wait till our thirties and then we’re surprised when the babies aren’t so easy to make anymore and then every day another million fourteen-year-olds get pregnant without trying. It’s a terrible feeling, this helpless, man. You just watch these babies grow and then fade. You don’t know if you’re supposed to name them, or bury them, or… I’m sorry.
You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be to watch those babies grow and fade. You have to be so much better than you ever thought you could be to name those babies and bury them and to not want to shake those fourteen-year-olds and to not beat yourself up for waiting until what you thought would be the right time. Most of all, you have to be so much stronger than you ever imagined to try again. I always get upset when people call me strong. I tell people I’m not strong and that I’m just moving forward because it’s the only thing I can do. But I’m wrong. I am strong. We all are. Despite the loss, we move forward. Even if you’ve never been pregnant, every failed cycle is a loss. My friend calls them misconceptions. She’s right. A loss is called a miscarriage but there isn’t a word to describe the loss of that hope of a baby month after month and year after year. There should be a word for that.
Despite the failed cycles, the miscarriages, the stillbirths, we move forward. We conceive again. We adopt. We choose to live a life without children. We try to make our families out of whatever we have, whether it’s our biology or adoption or just making a family out of the two of you. We feel like we don’t have a choice so it doesn’t mean anything. That’s wrong. First of all, we do have a choice. We could crumble, fall apart and never get out of bed again. We don’t. (And when we do, we realize we can’t do it forever.) Second of all, moving forward requires every bit of strength we have. We open ourselves up to a world of loss again and again in the hopes of building a better life for ourselves, no matter which way we decide to resolve our infertility.
I have been beating myself up lately about taking so long with the adoption process. I feel like we have dragged our feet every step of the way. We have taken our sweet time with everything and I feel like people are judging us because we should be on the books already. I feel like if I really wanted a baby badly enough, I’d be done already. A couple that was in a class with us already has a baby! I feel like I have failed already.
But it is HARD, people. It is so hard. Once we are on the books, we are opening ourselves up again. There is the possibility of more loss out there. Yes, if we stick with the wait, we will have a baby at the end. In between now and then, we could still lose, though. We could be scammed. We could have a birth mother choose us and change her mind. She can change her mind before the birth, after the birth, or after we take the baby home. We can have a birth father decide to parent. There is so much that can happen between now and our happy ending. It’s really freaking hard and it’s really freaking scary.
So, I am being strong. I am putting myself out there and it might hurt. Our profile is nearly done. Soon,we will officially be a waiting family and that is going to require me to be so much better than I ever thought I could be. I’m going to have to stop being so hard on myself because there’s already enough stress involved in moving forward and I’m going to need my strength.
PS I don’t know why but I can’t put the video in here so here’s a link.