Dear Lady Sitting Alone at the Mall

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I know that gaze.

That vacant faraway look when you look at young children playing and tiny hands and feet jutting out from a mother's baby carrier. When a pregnant woman waddles by, I could almost hear that imperceptible sigh coming out of you. Seems like every pregnant woman and young children capture your attention. You think nobody noticed you amidst the busy crowd. Somehow I noticed you. That longing hidden behind the apathy. That anger behind a wane smile. That weariness behind the blank look.

You remind me of myself.

I used to be like that. In fact sometimes I am still like that. I look at the mothers and then their babies and wonder how hard it was for them. Not in terms of bringing up the child but in bringing a child to life.

I wonder how many methods you have tried to conceive a baby. Timed ovulation, basal temperature monitoring, placing a pillow under your butt after intercourse, even doing a handstand in case the elevation isn't enough. Traditional Chinese medicines, naturopathy, aromatherapy, yoga, exercise, you may have tried them all. Not to mention, spiritual meditation and prayers. You wonder why the hell it's so damn hard to conceive and carry a baby to full term. Even finding the right gynecologist seems like a herculean task.

Your monthly blood stains on your panty reminds you of your body's failure in reproduction. Failed IUI's and IVF's and the nagging worry of depleting finances all plagued you like flies around a shithole. You don't know how you can hold up anymore. You try to avoid playgrounds, malls, baby showers, places with pregnant bellied women and young children, but somehow you bump into them more often than you wished.

I'm not sure if you have any kids but if you do, I'd think you rather experience the horror of your toddler taking a dump in the toilet bowl display than experiencing the sickening horror and grief when the silent ominous screen of the ultrasound declares no heartbeat for the third time.

Your number of "infertile" friends are dwindling each year. They were your life support. While you're genuinely happy for them, you can't help but to curse and swear at nature or the invisible force that kept you from being pregnant. You always wonder why are you the "chosen" 1 in 8 and 1 in 100.

People have different definition of the word "complete." Some are contented just being single. Some are fine without any children. Others yearn for at least one child. I think you just haven't reached your ideal definition yet. You yearn, you long but are constantly met with disappointment. Sometimes you wonder, am I so greedy to hope for another one? If only I had a baby, if only I could have another one, if only...

You live for the future, detest the present, and fear the past repeating itself.

You wished you could hold the chubby hands of a five-month old, the grubby hands of a toddler or the muddy hands of a 6-year-old once again. Instead you find yourself holding the fats of your bruised tummy trying to find another spot to jab the hormone for ovulation. You wished your weariness is due to your colicky newborn, toddlers throwing tantrums, or even tweens rolling eyes at you.

Except it's due to a barren womb, broken dreams and constant quarrels with your spouse.

I don't profess to know it all. Neither will I tell you to enjoy your single-or-couplehood or time with your current child(ren). If or when you have reached your ideal definition of 'complete', sometimes you will look back and wished that you haven't wished and worried too much till you forget to cherish the present moment.

Well, I'm just like you. I understand that your "present moment" is something you wished you could flush away. If a mathematical equation could represent your life right now, it should be Present = Problems + Pain. Some days, the problems get too big that you are incapable of any form of enjoyment. You worry about your ovarian reserve, whether that cyst needs to be operated or what could be done to increase the morphology and motility of your hub's tadpoles.

I have read this somewhere. Infertility is the passport to a club no women ever want to belong to; a union of women sporting badges of miscarriage, pregnancy losses and even abortion. These are women who share your emotions, questions, crisis of faith, and isolation, women whose desire to be a parent have been unexpectedly interrupted by suffering.

I feel you. I just want to hug you and tell you you're not alone. I wish we could be more than our infertility and miscarriage but it's hard to throw off these labels that life has marked us. I wish we could be best buddies but I think I'm too cowardly to reach out to you. I'm not sure everything will ever turn out right but let's just hold on to our dreams of having a child. If there's any consolation, perhaps there's light at the end of the waiting. I hope you will find it.

Anyway... for all it's worth, you may just be bored waiting for someone at the mall and I'm overthinking your situation. Somehow looking at you I am looking at me.

From,

Another lady sitting not too far away