I think I've mentioned before that I share a communal office with five other people. A little while back, my officemate Liam (the only remaining non-parent, besides myself) announced that he and his wife were expecting. As you can probably expect, there's been an awful lot of baby chatter in the office since then.
I feel like I've actually done remarkably well in dealing with it. I try to participate when I can handle it, and just pretend to be very busy at my computer when I can't. I've only excused myself for a little bathroom hideout on one occasion. This is despite the fact that I've been open with my colleagues about our infertility and could quite possibly be considered justified in asking them to tone it down a bit. As far as they knew, none of it bothered me in the least.
And to be honest, it really hasn't bothered me as much as I thought it would. During our self-imposed break from IVF, I've been putting a lot of energy into other positive things like adopting Buddy, enjoying the start of summer and amping up my workouts. While it feels like last year I used to cry about infertility all the time, since our failed FET I've only had two major breakdowns. The first was after my friend Derek's IVF pregnancy announcement. The second was today.
Yesterday, my officemate Liam and his wife had an ultrasound and found out the sex of their baby. This morning, he waited until everyone was in to do a big reveal: they are having a boy. Cue hugs and discussion of names. I actually joined in here, and wasn't too bothered by it. I was even Googling crazy name recommendations and we ended up having a good laugh.
Later in the afternoon, another colleague popped in to our office to make his own announcement that he and his wife were expecting, and they had just found out it was a girl (side note: this couple had previously had a miscarriage, so it's really great news for them). The two dads-to-be then launched into a huge discussion of hospitals, birth plans, midwives, and the like. I actually found myself really amazed by how involved and interested they were in this stuff, compared to the generation of our grandparents or even maybe our parents, when the fathers just stayed at work or sat outside in a waiting room until the baby was born. Both of these guys were super excited about their babies, and it was really sweet to see.
And that's when I started to feel it. That all-too-familiar undertow of infertility sucking me down. Listening to those two expectant fathers, I had one single thought that, in that moment, seemed as 100% certain to me as the fact that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. We were never going to experience any of this.
I fought the tears as best I could. I was successful, for a time. Our visiting co-worker left the office, and we went back to work. But it was too late for me. The prickling had started behind my eyes, and my nose started to run. I grabbed a tissue and blotted furtively, not wanting anyone to see. Then Liam stepped out for a moment. Everyone else was gone for the day except our officemate James. Everything was quiet, except for the clicking of keyboards. If I kept it quiet, I could get away with this.
But then I sniffled once. Twice. James casually asked if I was bothered by allergies.
I should have been able to answer him casually, to lie. But like a runner who has gone past her limit, all of the baby chatter had completely depleted my emotional energy. I had hit the wall. I tried to respond, but when I opened my mouth to answer, I realized I had no breath because of the tension built up inside my chest.
With that, the jig was up. James poked his head around the divider that separates our desks. "You ok?" he started to ask. But as soon as he saw me, he knew. He was up in a flash, coming to my side of the desk to apologize for all the baby talk and rub my shoulder. And as anyone who has ever tried to fight back tears knows, the worst thing that can happen in that situation is for someone to be nice to you or show you any semblance of concern. It completely destablized me, and I was done. Full out, sloppy crying, gaspy breath and all, right there in our office. Not my proudest moment by far. The worst part was that Liam returned shortly thereafter, and immediately knew why I was upset. Both Liam and James (a father of two girls) apologized for all the baby talk, and offered the usual platitudes: it will happen for you, you just need to keep trying, you'll be a mom someday. I just cried and didn't bother to tell them that no, there is a very very significant probability that I won't.
So now, it's Friday night and I'm home, crying as I write this blog post. M keeps assuring me that it's ok that this happened and that I shouldn't worry about it, but I can't help it. I feel like an absolute shitty asshole, on top of being completely embarrassed. This fragile infertile lady just put a significant damper on a friend and co-worker's exciting gender reveal news. On top of that, Liam will forever feel like he can't have normal conversations about his new baby in the office for fear of setting me off on some crazy mental breakdown. Plus there's the fact that until our new boss arrives at the end of July, I'm the acting supervisor of our whole team right now. Not exactly professional to have an ugly cry in front of your subordinates. But there you have it. What's done is done.
I'm definitely not looking forward to Monday, though.