I'm tired of lying; I'm tired of pretending to feel things I clearly don't. For the last year, both my husband and I have received the "so, when are you two going to have children?" or "are you guys thinking about having kids?" about twenty times. At first, it bothered my husband but I think he's embraced reality and tells people we're "working on it." I usually take the lead of the verb in the question and will reply, "Yes, we're thinking about it." And move on to a joke about how my husband is still young and he's got plenty of time. [He's squarely middle-aged.]
Usually men ask more than women and I assume it's natural the majority of men haven't the first clue about what could go wrong in the reproductive system. And we live on assumptions and expectations. I tried to stay away from "soft" subjects in college but did take a sociology course post-college and found it just about the most fascinating thing in the world. We all need assumptions so we know how to act or what to expect. We assume that we'll be safe in high-rent districts so we walk around without cares. We assume people who eat healthy and exercise won't get cancer. However, people do get robbed in Beverly Hills and vegan marathon runners do get cancer and die quickly. I know, it happened to one of my good friends.
So, while I hate the seeming insensitivity of questions about when kids are coming, I do understand where they come from. I had the same expectations and couldn't have imagined the utter torture the last 14 months have been. While I've had low moments in life before TTC, the feelings of desperation, pain, isolation, and sometimes insanity have been particularly amplified since late 2009.
Some of the experiences that have been particularly hard:
- At Easter, before the champagne toast, my MIL asked with particular glee if anyone had any announcements to share with the family. I knew instantly that she had every expectation that I'd say I was pregnant. But my husband and I looked around the room and trying to deflect any attention we joked that his widowed aunt was getting married despite having no interest in suitors.
- Last year, in anticipation of TTC, I was so excited and felt so sure it would happen quickly, I intimated to a colleague of mine that we were expecting. She looked at my stomach and said she had no idea and I had to clarify that I wasn't pregnant yet but soon. That was 18 months ago. Thankfully, she's said nothing.
- While I was standing outside my office building talking on my cell phone, my HR director drove by and perhaps because I was wearing a flowing, empire-waisted blouse, she pointed down to her stomach and yelled across the street, "Are you pregnant?" Embarrassing? You bet.
- Women at work seemingly got pregnant so easily and I claim we're still pondering the idea of parenthood all the while knowing I'm taking time off for blood draws, ultrasounds, HSG, surgery in a desperate attempt to find out what could be wrong. I dropped my guard for one person at work I barely know and told her I was having trouble getting pregnant. She asked if I'd tried the temperature-taking method. I found it quaint but also sad she thought it was that easy or that I was that ignorant.
- My best friend's baby is due in a week and a half and I'm desperately scared we'll have nothing in common anymore or she'll be so wrapped up in the baby, our friendship will fall away.
- One question about kids came to me just five days after the laparoscopy. My stomach still hurt when I gave the tired line about yeah, we're thinking about it.
- Even a priest who we confided in said stress might be a factor. He didn't have the first clue about Catholic infertility testing.
I still have faith it will happen to us. But I'm pretty confident I will never forget how hard it is to want to be a mother, to think that having unprotected sex with your husband might actually result in a pregnancy, to have natural expectations dashed month after month. Please remember that some of us are still infertile.