When they tell you your heart will get bigger when you get pregnant, you assume that it’s full of love for your baby. That’s true – but it’s not the only expansion your heart goes through. What I had no idea about before, was how your heart expands to accommodate the people you’re going through the experience with.
I talk on a fairly well-known forum, with other mums and mums-to-be with the same due date. We share symptom stories and support each other through the tough times, and laugh at the fun times – and there have been a fair few. We compare milestones and talk about how this has changed our lives – for better or worse.
Even though they’re just names on a screen, you get to know these people. You feel a certain sense of closeness to them – even though your situations are all different, you’re bonded by that one common factor that turns anyone’s life upside down, whoever they may be. You are all pregnant, all due at the same time, and all experiencing the ups and downs that pregnancy brings.
Sometimes, the ups are great, and you want to sing them from the rooftops. Sometimes the downs are so very, very bad. Every time I see that someone is going for a scan – especially someone I’ve spoken to extensively – but any time, really – I worry about them. Whether I’m sitting at home or working in uni, they’re in my thoughts, and I’m hoping it goes well for them. When it does, I’m thrilled.
When it doesn’t, the pain is so raw that it takes you by surprise. You don’t expect to feel so much grief on behalf of someone you don’t know in real life, and have only been speaking to for a couple of months, but you do. When someone in our group suffered a miscarriage recently, I sat on my bed and cried, and I knew it wasn’t hormones. It wasn’t me, being irrational and crying over nothing – the pain was real and intense and I was crying because it just wasn’t fair.
These women deserve their babies. They deserve happy and healthy pregnancies, with no tragedies or pain. When it doesn’t go to plan, it feels how I imagine it would feel if something like this was to happen to someone I knew in real life. The fact that they are words on the screen doesn’t make a difference – the pain is so real because it’s always so possible. It could happen to any one of us at any time, but it’s happened to someone we’ve spoken to, someone we’ve gotten to know – someone who’s shared hopes and dreams for their baby, who’s shared name ideas and funny stories of how they’re dealing with symptoms, and supported us through the dark times we’ve endured.
When the unthinkable happens to them, all you want to do is make it better – to reassure them that everything is going to be fine, and to take the pain away. You want to help them like they helped you, but you can’t. Unless you’ve been in their situation, you can’t even begin to imagine how they feel, and I think that is the most difficult part – the desperation to help, the confusion of your own feelings, and the knowledge that nothing you do or say will make it any easier for them.
Your heart grows bigger, to accommodate these wonderful people you meet – but when, for whatever reason, they leave, your heart doesn’t shrink back again. It stays just as big, but that little bit emptier.