Standing in front of a chafing dish full of “Twisted Mac and Cheese” at my sister in law’s wedding at the Hard Rock Cafe in Cancun, I felt like I might have made a mistake.  I was eleven weeks pregnant in Mexico, looking at a huge picture of this band over the buffet table where, labelled “Poison.”


This was my second pregnancy, and because my first “go” was more of a “stop,” I was terrified of everything I ate and touched and even how I used my body to stand up from a seated position.  I asked my health care givers, I researched online— everyone said flying is fine, flying is fine, that’s not what caused that loss!  Fly!

So we flew!  And, because we had experienced such a devastating miscarriage so recently, (5 months prior, 12 weeks along), we told almost nobody that I was pregnant. I didn’t want to share any news until we had good news, and at 11 weeks, with every blood test showing great levels of important things, we felt close!  But not close enough. Which meant I was constantly pretending that I wasn’t pregnant.

Which meant that when we landed at the Cancun airport and saw the air traffic control tower that looks like this:



I said cool…cool!

And when we got to the front desk to check in and were greeted by family members and a waitress with a tray of “welcome” cocktails with a floating flower in them, I pretended to sip mine.  Yum…yum!

And I pretended to have a beer at the pool, too, because that’s what I would have usually done.  Fun…fun!

 And even though, on the website,  the resort advertised this:


What it delivered was more like:


That’s an exaggeration.  Yes, these are stolen pics from the internet, and the lower one seems to have people with pink boots on in it..?  Near the pool? We didn’t have pool boots, or so many people, but either way it was a million miles from the serene, eucalyptus-scented kind of place where I would have chosen to be pregnant in Mexico.

At the HRC (sorry, Hillary, this H stands for “Hard”) there is one fee for all you can eat and all you can drink.  Which, for Americans, should never be an option.  Watch the local news anywhere from Albany to Albequerque and witness cutting edge investigative reporting on our collective issues with portion control and moderation, highlighted by stock footage of headless big butts, walking through parks.

It may be that other countries, like Australia, can out-drink us.  But any day of the week, Americans will out-all you can eat you…wait Americans will all you can OUT-eat you?  How does this sound not-closeted and not orally-NSFW?  Either way, we take the cake.  All of it. And that doesn’t even account for the “wasted half,” which is not to be confused with the “half-wasted” (everyone). 

The wasted half is above and beyond what we consume.  It’s the discarded partial hamburgers, over-ketchuped tater tots — FUCK IT food!  FUCK IT I’m drunk at 3pm let’s have nachos and then, three bites later, this feels gross FUCK IT let’s go back in the pool!  We can order more any time!  I’m bored!  FUCK! IT!

That food gets left on plates that are pulled away by Mexican employees who are paid to serve and then, soon after, toss our perfectly fine uneaten food in the garbage. The Americans: wasted, wasting.

Being sober there was depressing to me.  So I focused on the pretending, which became a little private game. I kept ordering beers, pouring 15% out in a garbage can (FUCK IT) and then taking big, fake sips with big, fake swallows that nobody even noticed.

At breakfasts I SHOUTED COFFEE, COFFEE and drank: tea, tea.  At the rehearsal dinner I fake-drank two wines, slowly pouring them into other peoples’ glasses when they weren’t looking and acted progressively inhibition-free.  And nobody even cared!  Success?

And then the big day came!   And then it rained.

When it rains in Cancun, everyone goes inside.  It’s intense.  It’s every Chicago Wrigleyville bar on a Cubs game night, it’s Las Vegas during a tequila distillers convention, it’s the place like that near you, only louder, wetter and with less to do.  There was one pool table in the hotel, and hundreds of guests surrounded it, in a Thunder Dome, Mad-Max-style scenario. 

Our wedding people all did shots, and I used my old bartending trick (I was the worst) (my other tricks included wearing thick turtlenecks and telling everyone they were cut off) of throwing the shot over my shoulder when everyone else drank theirs.  My airborne kamakaze splashed onto a stranger who was proudly displaying her bathing suit indoors, sans cover up.  And, as if this was just par for the course of Hard-Rockin’ in Cancun, she laughed and high-fived me, licking if off of her arm.  I needed to get out of there.  I needed quiet, peace, Enya music, something.  And just in the nick of time…

The sky cleared, mostly, leaving a few fabulous clouds, and the wedding was set up outside.  It was stunning.  It was perfect.  The bright pinks and oranges against the dark  sky, the very, very happy couple, my husband performing the ceremony with his wickedly perfect blend of humor and sensitivity.  I forgot that I was pretending anything, I stopped separating myself from everyone else, and got on board. I was glad to be in Mexico.

Soon it would be harder to travel with our baby, which was due around my birthday. Soon this couple would have babies too, and our generation of this family would bring the next one in. This was a right of passage, and we had another coming up in six months.  Family, time, connection, it felt powerful and I felt amazing with a little bit of the future growing in me.

The thrill of the love-stuff started to ebb when we headed for the reception.  There were Kick Ass Apps and more drinks and loud music. I returned to feeling that first trimester way: tired-gross-blah.

Dinner was served– I ate off of the Poison Buffet (was there a lower-hung poster for Ratt somewhere too?)  and got up to dance.  Eventually, I headed to the bathroom.

Where I saw my first spotting.

I was going to have another miscarriage. In Mexico.

I walk-ran back into the room where the party had shifted from Celebrate Good Times to I Want Your Sex. Where was my husband?  What was happening?  Where would I go? Where was the hospital?  What does a hospital look like in fucking Mexico?  Is there a resort medic?  I acted like I was fine, fine as I smiled and walked through the grindy dance floor and found my husband, who instantly knew.  He took my arm and said,


And I shook my head, my eyes filled up.

And Prince was singing “Sexy motherfucker shakin’ that ass, shakin’ that ass…”

As we snuck back to our room.

My secret plan had failed so wildly.  Because we were anticipating a possible hospital visit, we now had to tell everyone I was eleven weeks along. Eleven and a half, now.

I had pretended I wasn’t pregnant so hard that… it came true?  I wasn’t anymore, I could feel it.  I was in the in-between place where the progress had stopped but my body was holding on.

I sat in the bed and we ordered room service for two days, and I held on with all of my might to get back home.

We made it to the airport. We flew to Atlanta, made our connection, and the spotting was getting worse. The spotting was more than spots.  I knew it was coming.  I got on the plane, sitting on the aisle and, for six hours as we flew west, I felt like I was a giant balloon of blood that was about to burst.  I didn’t want it to happen on the plane.  What happens if that happens on a plane? I hate those little bathrooms.  What if I had to be stuck in there?  I had to hold on.

I stopped talking, I stopped reading.  I went into a sort of trance, thinking that if I wasn’t stimulated in any way, I might just put this miscarriage on hold.

The time fore secrets was over. We told the person sitting next to us.  We told the flight attendant, we ordered a wheelchair.  We probably even told the dude who pushed the wheelchair to the car. Anything to get us to the hospital faster.

We made it.  We got to the emergency room where our emergency paled in comparison to everyone else’s, so we waited and hung out, hung in there.

I started to play the game–I shouldn’t have: flown, gone to Mexico, swam in the ocean, danced, eaten that much salt, worn that outfit, everything.  I should have told everyone so that we could have had their support the whole time.

Fool me once shame on…fool me twice… this one was on me.  There was something wrong with me. I would never fly again.  I would never dance pregnant again. I would never eat fuck it food again.


When we got home the next day.  I called my mother and sister, I tried to make sense of what had happened and explained that we just didn’t know and it probably wasn’t the flying and sometimes you just don’t know and yes all of the tests were fine…

And then it was quiet.

And we ordered sushi.

I ate only part of it and had half of a beer that got poured out and then decided to just take a nap, because sometimes, FUCK IT really works.


16 thoughts on “Pretending

  1. Jesus. That’s a movie right there. And not a Zac Efron tourist resort comedy.

    Much love and catharsis to you and yours.


  2. Words fail me. You speak my thoughts. The not wanting to move a certain way, not wanting to do a thing wrong. I also miscarried on a plane. It was my third consecutive one but much earlier than you. I am so f’ing sorry. Thanks for sharing your story. The words you choose are always the right ones.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s been a long time since we were close in BRPC fellowship but please know you have a friend in me my dear. You are telling your tough stories well…I have some hard stories to tell too and you are inspiring me. Hugs and keep in touch! 😘😘😘😘

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, sweet Erin! I have seen some of your posts and know you have experienced some harrowing things and continue to do so. Thanks for your support and you have mine as well, 100% love to you!!


  4. You are the most amazing writer. You capture all the nuances of this insanely hellish infertility business. I have never read any one else’s writing on this subject that so perfectly paints the emotional picture. I read your posts while nodding my head and crying and yes-ing out loud, loudly. I could see this as a one-woman play. There are epidemic numbers of men and women who feel invisible in the pain of this. Someone needs to tell our story and make us laugh and cry and nod in the solidarity of this profound experience while we sit in theaters together. I think that might be you, Jean. Who would write a one-woman play about vignettes from their infertility journey?! Insane. And yet…makes me think about Frank McCourt and his books…such horrible stuff surrounded by beautiful language and things that make you laugh and cringe and nod in understanding. We need those stories too.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your courage to share your stories on this journey. Once again, I’m in awe by the honesty, the rawness and the excellent writing. You inspire me!

    Liked by 1 person

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