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. 

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~ by luna on March 22, 2008.

16 Responses to “wearing my badge”

  1. Luna – Again, it’s like you’ve written about my emotions as well. Especially the part about your response. That’s the same response I tell anyone who asks why I’m not looking like myself…

    Thanks for sharing this post. And I’m saying big prayers that all goes well with your FET.

  2. Do I win something for being first in line again?

    I don’t think even the best actress in the world can contain all of that and hide all of that 24/7. The heart needs to relax when it is holding that much inside. It can’t always stand at attention.

  3. If only it could all be different. I keep waiting to wake up from this nightmare. I’ve never been so tired in my life.

    I’m so sorry that all this is weighing on you, that it’s become just part of your life. I know all those fears, all those burdens; they make me so sad, so angry.

    My fingers are crossed for you for your upcoming FET. Wish I could do more. Take care, Luna.

  4. I’ll echo STE: I wish I could do more.

    I tend to lose a lot of sleep, too, hence the 1am comment

  5. Oh Luna, how well you always write. I am feeling so very much this way too (although I’d struggle to articulate my feelings) I can see my pain and hopelessness all over my face, physically my features seemed to have changed with the grief. It is strange that more people don’t notice, or perhaps they do but they know I won’t talk.
    I am so sorry that you are in this place. You are tired and that is understandable, the continued strain of dealing with such huge emotions is too much. I am sorry you have to miss your boy, it is such a hard thing to miss a baby that never got a chance to have memories, every milestone that isn’t just hurts a little more.
    I guess I am saying that I really understand, and because I do I am sorry beyond words xx

  6. I couldn’t have said it better. It’s awful, isn’t it?

  7. I am sorry that you have been enduring this for so long. I can’t imagine how tired you must feel, because I know I am exhausted and I have only been in this hell for three months. I wish I could say something more comforting, but I am at a loss.

  8. I don’t know whether I think it was appropriate or kind even for your coworker to have said that. (So says the woman who is ultra sensitive to everything these days.) But your point is well taken. How do you get through this uncertainty, how do you deal with your losses and, through it all, manage to be happy? I truly don’t know. I have to believe that one day we will find peace, either with a child or without, but it’s not going to be easy getting there. I’m continuing to keep you in my thoughts…

  9. Good luck for tomorrow Luna.

  10. Uggh, I know that feeling. I asked DH just last night if I look old and tired to him now. It is how I feel, so how could I not look it?

    Crossing my fingers for this FET to move forward for you!

  11. It’s been a long haul for you… no wonder you look & feel tired! Wishing I too could do more. (((hugs)))

  12. Amen, sister…

  13. […] and unfortunately, repetition.I’ve also been reflecting on my last post about how the burden of infertility and loss affects my ability to feel truly happy, but for certain joyful moments. And it’s true. […]

  14. How many, many times I’ve been in the same situation — wondering where my happiness could be, facing loaded questions and not being in the right time or place to address why. Compartmentalizing has been such a strong coping mechanism that I’m not sure how *not* to do it any more…

  15. This reminds me of a post I wrote last year when a client of mine from work that I ONLY talk to who does not know me personally asked me how I was doing and said I sounded really down lately and I haven’t been myself? She asked me if everything was ok and I came home in tears realizing how much IF has affected me and how even people who barely knew me could tell something was wrong. I didn’t know how to be happy or even act happy anymore.

  16. […] something about this badge of infertility I wear. It’s still there, but no one can see it anymore. So strange. It’s such a huge […]

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