Friday, December 14, 2012

losing yourself to bitterness.

Here, let me try to articulate for you the humiliating/harmless/black hole event of the night.

SCENE: Work holiday party. Fifty or so women clustered in our small gym, gorging ourselves on turkey and potatoes, gabbing, and cracking the inappropriate jokes that we hold back every day while surrounded by kids. Someone starts a game of Telephone, and in the meantime, a Soul Train dance party erupts. As the dancing winds down, our boss is asked to share what phrase she heard.

She chuckles. "What I heard was, 'Cathy's pregnant!'"

Aaand one hundred eyes swivel to my belly (sporting a lasagna pooch, yes, but void of offspring), and then to my own widened eyes. I've worked with most of these women for over ten years, and my husband used to work with them, too. A bunch of my co-workers were at our wedding two years ago, and I'm sure they've been expecting to hear we're expecting already.

Cue awkward laugh and dismissal of the rumor by me, followed by about a minute of everyone trying to distinguish whether it was a misheard Telephone message or an actual pregnancy announcement. In the meantime, a curious, exquisite sensation of - is it regret? - snakes through my chest. No. No, I'm not pregnant, and you all have no way of knowing that it's a sensitive topic right now, but - no. No, I'm not pregnant.

One thing I've learned for sure over the past five months? Even offhanded remarks to someone about his or her family planning process are inappropriate. You never know the wound you may be scraping open. If it hurts like this after such a comparatively short (and fun) time of trying to conceive, I can't imagine how it feels for people who have been trying for years, who are muddling through infertility, who have a long or scary or atypical path to parenthood. Certainly not all atypical paths to parenthood are painful, but I sometimes wonder if gay and lesbian couples just want to glare at heterosexual couples who are whining about hard it is to conceive.

Or is this all my negative personality shining through? Maybe I'm just jealous of the people who don't let the TTC bitterness take root. Who don't have to suppress the urge to slap every woman who giggles, "I can't believe it happened the first time we tried!" or "He just has to look at me and I'm pregnant!" Who don't wonder if having children just isn't in the cosmic cards for them. Who don't stare at family pictures and wonder if those parents know how lucky they are. Who don't question whether this is a punishment, a karmic comeuppance for all those times they rabidly prayed they weren't pregnant. Who don't have to bite their tongues when friends groan, "Just be glad you don't have all these kids to buy Christmas presents for." Those people, those non-bitter people - maybe I'm just jealous of them.

Whatever. The party's over. I'm home now. And the crazy puppy went back to his home tonight, too, after nearly three weeks in our decidedly non-puppy-proof abode, which means I can go watch mindless TV on the couch without fear of anyone trying to teethe on my face.

And - pain is relative. Watching the news trickle in today about the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre, a distinct thread of doubt wove its way through my heart. Why would I bring a child into this world? Why would I leave myself or anyone else so vulnerable? But I reminded myself to look for the helpers, like Mr. Rogers' mom used to say, and not only to be one, but to capitalize on any method I may have to nurture the helper side in others.

Truly my hero. Picture from this inspiring Mental Floss piece.

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