My best friend Sophie and I got married within months of each other. We bonded in college over our shared propensity to laugh at things no one else found funny, and the experience of being daughters to Irish mothers (if you have one, you will understand). We were inseparable. Both only children, it was somewhat inevitable that we became like sisters.
Adulthood hit us both differently. We were both very career oriented—Soph, a journalist, me, an executive at a tech company—but I got pregnant within a few months of being married and she set off on a new adventure, temporarily moving to a different country for a job. The months passed, my son Fin arrived, and we saw each other a little less than usual whilst she was working away. When she returned home, we slipped right into a new normal: Her adoring Fin, Fin in awe of his aunty Sophie, me back at work and glad my sister was home.
It was around this time that she started to open up about the fact that she and her husband had been trying to conceive. She wasn’t sure why it wasn’t happening.
At first, we both lived in false platitudes. “It will happen.” “Of course it will!” But as the months rolled into years, it increasingly became apparent that actually, it might not “just happen” for my best friend.
I watched as Sophie and her husband avoided events where babies might be, flinch as a pregnant woman walked into the room, and have their hearts broken into millions of pieces over and over again when rounds of IVF were not successful. We watched our friends decline a glass of wine, and smile apologetically as they popped to the bathroom to administer another dose of hormones for their latest attempt to conceive.
At she embarked on more treatment, I was launching Peanut, a social network for moms. I winced when she offered to test my app, to share with colleagues who were mothers, when she couldn’t use it as a mother herself. “Not yet” I’d correct her, and she would give me a soft smile. She sat with me whilst I obsessed over data, fundraising with investors, bug fixes. I sat nervously by the phone whilst she took another pregnancy test, waiting for that line, and looked in horror at the plethora of fertility drugs she was on. She joked I should make Peanut for women like her, trying to conceive, “I could do with someone else to talk to about this to be honest,” she said.
Last year, I got pregnant again—totally unplanned. As I sat in the bathroom looking at the test the only person I could think of was Soph. How would I tell her? How could I do that to her? How could I become someone she needed to avoid for a year or so for self-preservation? How could we survive that? So for the first time in my adult life, I did something I’ve never done before: I kept a secret from my best friend.
Over the next few weeks, I bumbled through the idea of becoming a new parent again. My breasts grew tender, my stomach started to bloat, I shared secret smiles with my barista as I ordered decaf. Then one morning, when I pulled back the bedcovers, I saw a dark crimson stain on the sheets. It was over. I’d had a miscarrige.
My husband and I stood staring at what might have been, devastated. But it’s strange how fast self-preservation kicks in—I stripped the bed, I dressed Fin for school made his breakfast, got ready for work, and grabbed my Starbucks (relishing the caffeine) on the way in. Later that day, my doctor confirmed I had miscarried.