Writer Jessica Martinez tells her infertility buddy she’s pregnant.
The phone rang on the other end—once, twice, three times. Maybe she wasn’t home. I hoped she wasn’t home. This was the call I’d been dreading.
My husband and I had had so much fun breaking the news to our parents. After years of trying, we could hardly wait to tell them that the latest procedure had worked—that I was finally pregnant! But now, listening to the phone ring and waiting for Liz to pick up, I felt terrible.
Liz and I had been in the same boat. Not just my cousin and best friend, she had been my infertility confidante. Together we talked temperature charting, ovulation-predictor kits and home pregnancy tests. We commiserated over the mood-altering hormones, the loss of privacy and the marital strain of reproductive failure after failure. When someone made an insensitive remark, we could count on the other to be equally offended. And when it just got to be too much, we could cry without feeling judged or pitied, just understood.
How would she react to my news? How would I react if I were her? I thought back to how I had felt each time someone had broken her “news” to me during my struggle with infertility. Five or six friends, my sister, two sisters-in-law, my sister again—truthfully, I had become less excited with each announcement. Sure, I managed to gasp, squeal and offer my congratulations with the obligatory enthusiasm, but all the while, self-pity was bubbling inside: Why not me?
Liz, I was sure, would feel the same way. I would no longer be her ally, but the object of her envy. I understood better than anyone else—before I had conceived, babies and pregnant women were painful reminders of what I lacked. I’d become an expert at concocting stories to get out of baby showers, dropping my gift off early and escaping before the talk of diaper rash and episiotomies ensued. At least I had Liz to console me then.
Four, five rings … the machine was about to pick up, thank goodness. But then came Liz’s voice: “Hello?”
I took a deep breath, silently wishing for it to be over, and rushed into the words I had prepared. When I finished, there was a pause, and I cringed, waiting for the lukewarm congratulations I knew would come.
But I was wrong. She was thrilled—no, not just thrilled—ecstatic, and her voice showed that her emotion was genuine. All I could think was, how? “Liz,” I said lamely, interrupting her excited chatter. “I’m sorry.”
There was a pause. “Please don’t be,” she said quietly. “Every time I’ve prayed for a baby, I’ve asked for you, too. So this is an answer to my prayers.” Miraculously, I realized, she meant it.
As my pregnancy progresses, I have wondered how I will teach my child life’s important lessons. How does one teach compassion? Selflessness? Loyalty? Friendship? Not alone, I’ve concluded. For that, I have a feeling I’ll be looking to Liz.