One, after another, the waiting room filled with pregnant bellies and car seats. I sat in my chair trying to avoid eye contact with anyone and everyone. My eyes welled up and my lips started to quiver. I had to close my eyes and and pray to God that no one saw my tears or heard my sniffles.
At first, my heart broke and I felt empty. I sat in my chair, surrounded by beautiful pregnant women, babies and toddlers and all I felt was loneliness and sadness. It hurt to know that I was waiting in the room with an empty uterus and worthless ovaries. I felt bare that my hands weren't juggling diaper bags and car seats, lacking that my arms were not holding my toddler on my lap, and unfulfilled that my uterus was vacant. I felt alone and I felt hollow and so empty.
Then a little boy came in with his mom, or grandma, or whoever. I looked up at him sitting across the room, quietly reading a BoxCar Children book. He was so entranced in his reading that it made me smile. As I sat admiring his behavior, I was impressed with how well behaved he was and that he could continue to read as he walked, slowly, across the room to the front counter, where he stood, quietly and patiently, reading and waiting, for his mother (or whoever). They sat down directly in front of me and I noticed my heart starting to ache again.
Not only was this waiting room full of pregnant women who reminded me of what I am; infertile and empty, I sat in a waiting room full of children of different ages. They reminded that being an infertile not only meant that I was not carrying a baby, but that I may never get the chance to teach my son or daughter how to read or how to sit quietly and play with toys; I won't have people admiring my well- behaved children or even cringing at my ill-behaved children. Until now, I never really stopped to think about all the aspects of parenthood that I may not experience. As I continued to admire him I actually laughed out loud a little when he started making facial expressions as he changed the pages in his book. My mind was saying to him "You are such an adorable young man, I hope that my son is as well behaved as you are... if I ever have a son...."
I always think about what it would be like to conceive and carry a child; I've thought about how I wanted to have a pregnant belly and how I wanted to feel the baby move and see how Mike would react to the baby inside. It wasn't until today, watching that little boy, that I realized there is so much more we miss. We won't get to teach our child how to read, or manners, or responsibility. We won't get to watch our child grow up into the beautiful person we dreamed he/she would be. We won't get to see ourselves in someone else. Pregnancy is not parenthood; it's just the the start of so much more that we may never experience.
Just then a girl came around the corner with long blond hair and a tiny little belly bump. As I saw her face I thought Do I know her? And then it hit me... "Oh my- that's Jeneene- she married to Will. Yep, she married her cousin's ex-boyfriend, that is right! You were always a little snob.You're pregnant again, aren't you!? You already have one! Damnit! Damn you, Jeneene for being able to just get pregnant whenever you damn well please. DAMN YOU!!! Why you and not me? Whhhhyyyy!? I'm still trying for ONE! We've been trying for four years; didn't you JUST get married? Oh sh*t, please don't recognize me, please! I don't want to have to hear about your perfect life and how fat you feel. You. Bitch."
Yep, in my mind I was so mad and jealous that I considered her a bitch. I hated her in that moment; it felt like she was my enemy. In reality, I barely know her!
As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. Today, that phrase was not an inspirational metaphor. As Jeneene left the office, with her perfect little baby bump and her adorable little blond haired, blue eyed boy, a young Hispanic girl walked in ready to explode. She was 18 years old- tops- and was about to give birth any day, as she was picking up registration paperwork for the birthing center. Again, the bitch in my head spoke up "What the f*ck? You are like, 12 years old! How come you get to have a baby but not me? I bet the baby daddy is a jerk and not even around; if he was, why isn't he here with you, instead of your mom?! I wish I could wipe that smile off your damn face!"
She was followed by three full term pregnant women. Of course, two sat directly behind me. One of the three walked in with a little boy and her hand on her bump. The bitter infertile inside my head was saying "Lady, like we don't all know you are pregnant! It is obvious that we can see your perfect round belly; we don't need you placing a big flag on it! Don't worry, no one is mistaking your basketball baby bump for my muffin top!"
I felt surrounded. My heart started to pound and my throat got tight. I clenched my keys hard enough to cause pain. I was looking for a distraction. I wanted to scream. I could feel myself sinking deeper into my pity. I felt myself fill with hatred and envy. And then they called my name.
I told the medical assistant that it was cruel to leave an infertile in the waiting room for a half an hour, full of pregnant women and newborn babies (I was only half way serious) and she apologized. When my regular nurse came into see me, I busted into tears. She knew how hard it was for me to be surrounded by all this fertility. I knew she had no words that would make me feel better and I know that she knew that an "I'm sorry" just wasn't enough. I cried so hard I couldn't speak. I was hurting, I was mad, I was jealous, I was weak. I felt so defeated in that waiting room; I felt like a loser; I felt like everyone knew that I was broken.
Leaving that building was a huge relief! I felt like I had just escaped an angry mob or something; I could breathe again. In less than an hour I had experienced a wave of emotions; I was sad, happy, amazed, angry, jealous, defeated, broken, alone and empty. I called Mike, and immediately started to cry as he said "hello". I told him what had happened and I could hear the sadness in his voice. I could tell that he would have given me the biggest hug if he could but even he didn't have any words to say that would make the emptiness go away. I had to process this one on my own.
As I was reflecting on today's events prior to writing this post, I realized that obviously I am not a peace with my situation. I am not as accepting of this infertility card as well I thought. No, I don't really hate Jenenne or think she is a bitch because she is pregnant. Again. Of course, I would never say those things to the pregnant woman holding her baby bump or try to wipe a smile off another's face- God knows if I ever have a bump I will be touching it all the time and I would be grinning from ear to ear 24-7! Their pregnancies are not to blame for my infertility. It's not like the stork chose them over me... even though it sure does feel like it sometimes. But thankfully, feelings and reality are not the same thing.
Even though I am trying really hard to accept the fact that our lives my be child-free for a lot longer than we ever wanted, it isn't always easy. I have dark moments and sometimes, I have dark days. Today was one of them. I was angry. I felt really cheated after seeing so many pregnant women, and so many pregnant women who already had children. Not only did I feel cheated and robbed, I felt isolated and alone. I felt plagued.
Today proved that even though I say I am alright, this path isn't something I want to accept and I might always carry some jealousy in my back pocket that rears its ugly head when I see women or couples who have what we don't but, that is okay and as long as I don't carry the envy for long, I will be just fine. Jealously is a natural emotion; all humans experience it. Experiencing it from time to time is what we do. But letting it control me isn't what I do.
I will not deny that pregnant bellies are absolutely the cutest thing ever and no matter what pregnant women look like, or what they wear, or their age- if they get to sport a baby bump, they've got the best accessory ever; and I will always feel like a little stab in the gut when I see it. And that is okay.
**In my attempt to distract myself I also posted to Facebook; I was hoping some light sarcasm would help but, it didn't. What did help me though was this wonderful piece of advice from a reader....**
"'... draw a smiley face on your palm and when you feel overwhelmed, squeeze, that will be us behind you giving you strength when we cant be there in person."
*names have been changed*