It was hard for me to be around pregnant women or new moms the two years we did infertility treatments. It was hard to hear them talk about morning sickness or infant milestones. I declined to attend more than one baby shower. I hid people on Facebook.
There was one place I enjoyed seeing pregnant women though. And that was in the waiting room at our infertility doctor’s. I knew those women knew exactly what I was going through. Because they had been there too. Seeing them come out of the exam rooms holding their ultrasound photo always filled me with joy. And hope. They’d walked their own version of the infertility road, but they knew the road. They were my people even if I didn’t know their names or their stories.
Then it was my turn. I walked into that waiting room and the receptionist, who I knew so well she almost made the Christmas card list, asked me I how I was feeling. I told her I felt pregnant and then pulled my home pregnancy test from that morning out of my purse to show her the positive result. They passed the test around the office for everyone to see. Everyone was so happy.
In the coming weeks I was one of the women walking out with an ultrasound photo, first of just a pole with a vibration in the middle, than a little gummy bear, and finally something that was really starting to resemble a person.
The people in that office, the women in that waiting room, never took a pregnancy for granted. Each one was to be celebrated, shouted from the roof tops. Because they knew.
They knew that a positive pregnancy test did not always mean a baby you could hold.
They knew that while statistically your odds at a procedure might be good, those statistics mean there are people who it doesn’t work for.
They knew how your body was supposed to work and all the different ways that it often didn’t.
They knew that sometimes you just don’t have enough. Enough emotional strength to try again that month. Enough insurance coverage for one last try, or even a first try. Enough time to wait and see.
At 11 weeks pregnant we graduated from our reproductive endocrinologist’s office. A week later we had our first appointment with our obstetrician.
Sitting in the new waiting room the feeling was different. It felt innocent. It felt naïve. It felt ordinary. The receptionists, the medical assistants, the other women in the waiting room, they didn’t know.
They didn’t know the heart ache it took to get us there.
They didn’t know the true statistics of multiples from different infertility treatments.
They didn’t know not to say certain things, that they weren’t funny, that they weren’t appropriate.
They didn’t know the intense fear and amazing joy I greeted each day with, terrified the pregnancy wouldn’t last, grateful I was still pregnant.
And in a way I envied them. Their ignorance allowed them a certain amount of bliss.
I do not want my infertility to define me. But knowing what we know I can’t help but be shaped by it. There is power in the knowledge we have gained.