Colleagues will ask it, parents will ask it, students will ask it. Some will ask it because it’s the thing to do, some to fill dead air, some because they saw my (not to brag or anything) AMAZING vacation photos on social media, some because they genuinely want to know.
“How was your summer?”
Most questions beginning with “how” elicit the one word response of “good.”
“How are you?” “How is your mom?” “How was your weekend?”
You want to know how my summer really was? It was awful. I was an emotional, hormonal mess who was pregnant, but won’t be having a baby anytime soon. I had two miscarriages, my second and third. After my first loss, I believed so hard that I was still statistically very likely to have no trouble conceiving and carrying a baby in the future. After three losses, uterine surgery, and countless medical tests and interventions, I’m finding it harder to believe. And that is awful.
Of course, I also have an arsenal of stories to back up the generic response of “good.” I spent a total of 28 days camping, summited some fantastic mountains, paddled some pristine lakes, and even, on some of those days, got paid to take other people’s kids along with me. I laughed so hard water shot out my nose, I hiked so hard my calves burned, I stank so hard I had to wash my laundry twice. (And it still stinks).
Those photos I took, I’m telling you, they are AMAZING. Sunsets and sunrises and mist rising from a glassy smooth lake, happy campers, and piles of warm, buttery, food cooked on a campfire.
Can we clear something up here real fast before you even go there? Backpacking doesn’t cause miscarriage or infertility. Humans (and really all animals) evolved to be active. Our species would be dead by now if we couldn’t reproduce while being physically active. My midwife even told me that it’s urban legend that you shouldn’t lift anything heavy (within reason) while pregnant. (Obviously, listen to your body and take your own healthcare provider’s advice!)
So how am I going to answer this question?
Sometimes I’ll just say “good” and change the subject to their summer. Sometimes I’ll tell them about my best hiking trip, maybe shamelessly show a few pics. And sometimes….sometimes, when the audience is right, I hope I get the courage to respond “Awful. I had two miscarriages. I’m glad school is starting so I can focus on something else now. How was yours?”
And I hope you’ll be honest when I ask you, too. After three miscarriages, I can handle it.