I went to the bank to open up a safe deposit account. As the friendly young associate processed the paperwork I asked her about opening up a 529 at some point. [A college savings account, I know- I'm a bit ahead of myself] She asked me how old my child was, I blushed saying set to arrive in May. Her expression dropped just a tad, with a thin lipped smile she said That's great, we've been trying forever but oh well.
I tried for a while too, I told her. She looked at me with surprise. I'm not sure why. Maybe because when we're consumed in the monthly trial of trying and failing to conceive we forget how many millions are also in our shoes. I told her about PCOS, my miscarriages, and my clotting disorder. She told me she was born with two uteruses that she just now resolved and advanced endometriosis. Her eyes welled with tears as she talked about adoptions that failed to come through. I can't stand the thought of another Christmas without children, she said.
We talked for at least an hour. I gave her the contact information for my doctors, and also the website for Mel's Stirrup Queens. She said she felt so alone because all her friends had children on command. I told her she wasn't alone and that online there is a community of support that can help her get through this.
As I drove home I felt overwhelmed. Had she not told me, I would have been another fertile woman overly eager to plan her child's future who unintentionally reminded her of the painful void in her life. This was an important reminder to me that I don't know the full stories of the pregnant women I see around me, or really anybody. I don't know the backgrounds and the secret struggles they may endure. But I also learned something else: Talking about infertility and loss is important. She struggled for two years with no one to talk to and feeling like her infertility was a stigma which she alone suffered from.
Its strange to be regarded as a pregnant woman. I went to Target and as I approached the maternity section I felt my chest constrict. I walked around the pants and shirts feeling a rush of excitement like I was somewhere I did not belong. I was pretending to be part of a secret select society. Infertility and loss really fucks with your head apparently.
I sometimes wish I could wear have a symbol, a necklace or a bracelet that gave a silent message that I too struggled. I want to be pregnant and I look forward to my belly taking away the sight of my toes but it hurts me to think the sight of me pregnancy might hurt someone else. That one day I might sit at the doctors office rubbing my belly while the girl across from me is waiting for her lab appointment to see if her betas are dropping from her miscarriage. I was there so recently and the pain of those scars still stings. But she won't know. She will see me and feel bitterness towards the world perhaps, like I once did. She will bite her lip to fight back tears like I once did.
A symbol of my struggle would not take away the pain of another but it would help us feel less alone. Yet, short of wearing an I'm infertile! maternity shirt, I'm not sure how to get the message across. I guess like today, I will talk about it when I can, to who I can. It's not enough, but its something.