wearing my badge
The other day I was talking to an old co-worker who I’ve known for seven years. While she doesn’t know the full extent of what we’ve been through, she knows we have been trying to have a baby for a long time. She knows I have a wonderful husband who supports me. She’s aware of some of the surgeries and procedures, but not the treatments. She provided welcome support when I was on bedrest and ultimately lost my baby boy. But we have not really spoken about my situation in a while.
When I stopped by to talk with her the other day, it was after weeks of frenzied activity, both at work and home. She asked how I was. What a loaded question, isn’t it? Yet it was not the time or place to get into it, even if she really wanted to know. Busy, I said, really busy. Which is true. After we chatted about work for a few minutes, she said something rather insightful but maybe also obvious.
“You just don’t look very happy,” she said to me (emphasizing happy).
Hmm. Yeah, I guess I’d have to agree. Maybe I thought I had been hiding it better. Sure, I experience moments of happiness and joy — when I appreciate a magnificent sunset or a wonderful evening with the Amazing M, even doing the simplest things together — and I fully embrace those moments. But let’s face it, the underlying emotion I’m generally feeling most of the time is not joy.
I compartmentalize. I function well at work (even when I’m distracted by life). I put up a front at family events (even when I’m losing it inside). I avoid unnecessary social occasions when I’m not up to it. Aside from funerals, I don’t really even cry in front of anyone except my husband. Everyone thinks I’m so strong. But I guess I don’t wear this badge of infertility so well after all, at least not anymore. Not after all this time. Maybe it’s because we’re now nearing the end of the line.
So what prompted her comment? I have been really busy, even more so since I had to re-adjust my schedule for the postponed FET. I wondered if it was simply exhaustion. I have trouble going to sleep early, so I tend to stay up to read blogs, write, or watch TV until late. Is it just the dark circles under my eyes? Or was it something more that gave me away? I mean aside from the obvious fact that we are still childless and I am not pregnant.
Is the strain in my face so evident that it can’t be masked anymore with a smile and cheery greeting? I mean I see it. But does everyone else?
Is it simply the burden I silently carry every day? Did she catch me in a puffy eye moment when I was unaware? Is it the stress of juggling appointments and treatments with work commitments and life? Is it the havoc that a year’s worth of fertility drugs are wreaking on my poor body — all the extra bloated weight I’m carrying around, the headaches, that flustered lupron feeling of crawling out of my skin, the malaise and the sweat oozing from my pores? Is it the frustration of realizing that my body still isn’t cooperating, that my lining isn’t growing despite everything I’m doing? Is it the fear of this FET failing and facing another heartbreaking bfn? Is it the financial burden of the failed treatments plus our other debt that has left us unable to even consider further treatment or adoption? Am I still just missing my baby boy?
Or is it the full cumulative effect of the last six years weighing heavy on my mind and heart? Did she look into my eyes and find the sorrow that quietly haunts my soul? Or is it that I will be 39 in two months and maybe as far away from motherhood as I’ve ever been?
Hmm. Let’s see. Yeah, I think it could be the toll of all of those things. So what do you think I said in response? “I’m just tired, just really tired.” Which is true. I’m so tired of all of this. I want it to be different. But that’s a post for another day.