I used to spend what felt like a lot of time crying about my infertility. Really it was mostly on the days I started my period and realized, "This isn't my month either," but sometimes it happened seemingly randomly. Usually, it happened in private, with Richard, or with my doctor. I didn't even want to cry in front of Scooter. One time when Richard was working nights, I sat in my car in my carport and bawled when I got home from class because I didn't want my dog to see me cry. (It made sense in my head. I'll admit that I am not always rational.) It was that awful kind of crying like when you look in the mirror while you're crying, see how disastrous your face looks, and cry harder because you look bad when you cry PLUS whatever thing that initially made you cry is still a factor. Definitely not cute.
The first time I cried about my infertility in front of anyone besides Richard or my doctor was on Christmas Eve last year. The night before, my best friend (Ariel) FaceTimed me and told me she was pregnant, and even though I was excited--my best friend was pregnant, after all!--I was also disappointed because that was one more person who had what I was failing to find. I thought I did a good job being enthusiastic, but she later told me that she could tell I was hurt. Sometimes best friends just know these things. I'm also pretty awful at controlling my facial expressions. That's one reason why I'm not a counselor.
On Christmas Eve morning, my father-in-law enthusiastically shared news of a friend having a new grandchild. I remember him saying, "A Christmas baby! Isn't that great?" and thinking that a baby any day of the year would be equally great to me. What I said instead was along the lines of, "Yeah, that's great!" While I knew it was great, my heart didn't feel great. My heart felt sad that I didn't have a Christmas baby or even a baby on the way at Christmas...for the second year.
While everyone else in the family went to see the Star Wars movie, I grabbed lunch with my sisters-in-law at Sundown, a restaurant we like to go to when we're in Ruston. Since my last visit, the restaurant had discontinued the buffalo chicken sandwich, but they had something close, so I ordered that. What I received was certainly a chicken in spicy sauce, but there was Sriracha or something involved in the sauce. I commented that it was spicy but decided to fight through it.
At some point, the conversation shifted to a baby Maryanne had seen and held at her husband's family Christmas the previous night. I guess three baby conversations in 24 hours was too much because my eyes started filling up with tears. I did that thing where I contorted my mouth and tried to keep my lips from trembling. I think Rebecca noticed first and said something like, "Are you okay? That sandwich must be really spicy," and I couldn't stop myself from the outburst that ensued.
"I don't want to talk about babies!" This was followed by some tears and probably some snot and heaves that sound like a dragon with nasal congestion.
Like any nice human beings, my sisters-in-law apologized, and we shifted the conversation to something else. I told them it was okay and that I realized they didn't know. Most people in my life didn't know. Because of my running schedule and my school obligations, I think some people assumed I was waiting on purpose or that I don't want kids, but the truth is I didn't know how to tell people that I can't seem to do what most women do very easily. This isn't the kind of thing I want to wear on a T-shirt.
One of the challenging pieces of this whole situation is that many people don't know how to talk about infertility. Coping with it (mostly) privately led to the Great Chicken Sandwich Outburst of 2019, but all that really did was put babies on the "Do Not Discuss" list and maybe give some context to my sisters-in-law about why Richard and I don't have children (if they had been wondering).
Something I have been working on (and that I'll get to later this week) is learning to talk about infertility, but it is truly difficult sometimes. I don't want to be known as that lady who's always going on about her reproductive struggles, but I also realize that it is challenging to get more people talking about infertility without first talking about infertility. Hopefully, my stories this week, even the ones that revolve around spicy chicken, will spark some conversations.
Time I woke up: 9:30 am