My life is one big Where’s Waldo of pregnant women and I win every. time. Pre-TTC, I noticed and appreciated the occasional bump, but once I started my own Quest for Two Pink Lines: pregnant women were everywhere. They’re walking down the street in packs like lionesses, squeezing into seats on the bus, prancing around in commercials about stretch marks and insurance policies. I try to shield myself from the Bump Assault – I’ve stopped going on Facebook and refrain from gazing out my living room windows (because why wouldn’t I live across from a hospital where I’m eye level with the delivery rooms?), but I still find myself victimized by pregnant bellies on a daily basis. There are the obvious about-to-burst bumps demanding to be noticed, the newer bumps that are shyly poking out, the soft rounded stomachs that recently evicted their eight pound tenants. When I glance at each belly I try to think “that will be you someday” but instead the words get mixed and jumbled inside my head and they come out as “will that be you someday?”
I can only imagine how incredibly unsettling it is for women I’ve just met who notice my eyes immediately dart to their stomachs – trying to determine if they are currently, or ever have been, “with child” (my least favorite saying in the world). When my gaze does glide over a protruding bump, I have to keep myself from grabbing their ruched tops and asking, “How long were you trying to conceive? Did you do anything different? Do you have any idea how lucky you are?!” Then I wonder – does it really matter? Knowing that it took someone two months or two years, whether they have one ovary or PCOS – that’s not my story. This is. I imagine this is something that my future therapist will refer to as a “break through” one day, but what feels more similar to a breakdown. Am I one more hopeless event away from shaving my head Britney Spears style?
My close-but-not-close-enough-to-join-in-my-infertility-awareness friends have started to join the bump crusades, and they’re so open and optimistic about trying that they may as well be banging me on the head with their pre-seed. “Pulled the goalie!” “Better drink up while I can!” “At least I won’t have to worry about the weight I’m gaining anymore!” I’m choking on their excitement – their untainted beginnings being rubbed in my face. Was it ever that fun and exciting for me? All I can recall is stress and anxiety and slivers of hope mutilated by a lonely pink line. The extra fun thing about friends who are open regarding their fertility is that they expect you to repay them with your own TTC tales. Listen friend, just because you want to yell from the rooftops about your monthly prescription switching over to ‘no refills’, doesn’t mean you can then turn to me and say, “What about you? Anything brewing in your uterus?” “NO BUT DON’T WORRY MY TUBES ARE ALWAYS DOWN FOR SOME IMPLANTATION, THANKS!” Infertile me is aggressive, hence why she has to stay hidden until pregnant me can take over (IF there’s a pregnant me). I wonder how long this resentment will last. Will I still be flashing my friend’s belly dirty looks when we’re both 8 months and taking bumpfies? (Is that what they really call bump selfies? Because if so, I hate it.)
Knowing when a couple has started trying feels like being unwillingly entered into some sort of baby race, except I’m running in place and everyone is passing me by. Hell, some women are lapping me – walking briskly past as they place a protective hand over their second bump of my TTC years. I can’t predict someone’s journey any more than I can guess my own, but the stats are one in eight. I’m the one in every group – the token infertile girl. Because of me, the odds are more in their favor. You’re welcome, everyone. Now I get to be hyper aware of who might have an OPK up their sleeve as they trot to the bathroom, and who’s drinking (or not), and who clearly stumbled upon an article about pineapple core. Every pregnancy (whether assumed or confirmed) will act as a reminder that I can’t do something that happens naturally for everyone else – like being the one person who never figured out how to blink. “Maybe you’ll be able to blink if you just RELAX your eyes!” Bleh.
It’s so easy for people to say, “Of course, of course you’re going to get pregnant one day.” Because that’s what happens when a man and a woman fall in love (or have too much tequila): they make babies and live happily ever after. Infertility doesn’t exactly match up with the fairytale that I was promised. Unfair sounds like such a vanilla word, like it can’t possibly be strong enough to hold all of the pain and anger I feel at the hand I’ve been dealt, but I’ve turned that word into a bottomless pit for my emotions:
It’s unfair that we have to be the chosen ones to inexplicably be unable to merge our cells.
It’s unfair that the majority of people don’t experience this struggle, so they don’t know to leave me alone.
It’s so grossly, astronomically unfair that I’m forced to look at having a family as a dream, instead of something that’s guaranteed.
I don’t wish this experience on anyone, but truthfully: I want to be next. I’m supposed to be next. No, actually – I’m supposed to have a baby already and my friends should be peppering me with questions about OPKs and timing and fawning over how beautifully fertile I look. Selfish thoughts for someone about to embark on an IVF journey in a mere two weeks, but fear is starting to seep through the cracks in my fragile optimism. What if I hand myself over as a human pincushion for three weeks and then it doesn’t work? What if it never works? How will I handle pregnancy announcements when I’m on IVF round 4, hopped up on Follistim and Menopur? (Heard that one stings like a bitch, too.) Starting IVF is terrifying not because of the needles and the banning of wine, but because it’s the end of the road. If that doesn’t work, where does that leave us? At what point am I going to be told “maybe having kids just isn’t in your future”?
I feel like I’m living in two worlds at once – one where I can convince myself that my time is almost here, that there is a shining glittery light at the end of the tunnel, and another where I have to face the fact that this might be the beginning of the end (yay, pessimism!). There should be some sort of sabbatical offered to women struggling with infertility where we no longer have to socialize with the general population once we’ve been bombarded with too many uterus questions and bumps. I want to stay in my own infertile bubble, not being released into the world until I’m considered a success and then I can be all, “WOW! Look at all these pregnant bellies and babies! Look at MINE!”