Friday, 31 May 2013

Hitting the wall

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.

22 comments:

  1. Oh I'm so sorry that this happened. Don't worry about what your coworkers think- there is a lot of time between today and Monday. And maybe this will slow down on the baby talk.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh Amaris! I wish I could give you a big hug right now! Crying at work, especially in front of subordinates is always awkward - I did it 5 years ago when I learned of the death of Tim Russert. In a way it's a benefit that it happened on a Friday as you have the weekend to get some distance. It's one of the most shitty aspects of infertility is that you don't know when the tears will hit, things can build until you hit a wall, or it can come out of nowhere. Additionally, IF is not the only time to be sensitive, if you had a friend who has been out of work, you wouldn't brag about your promotion, so it's not out of line for others around you to tone it down. I hope you M and buddy are good to each other this weekend. Hugs, Jane

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm so sorry that you had to endure that. It is horribly unfair. I can assure you that I'd have been in tears way before you were if I had been in your shoes. I am a VP at my company and am not proud to admit that I've had tears in my eyes in front both subordinates and my boss. I'm too am embarrassed by it. It sucked for me as I am sure it did for you. But this is such a hard journey, it is impossible to keep all of these emotions in check ALL of the time. Especially when you are tested in the way that you were. I'm sorry. that is all that I can say. Hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh my goodness- I'm so sorry for what you had to go through yesterday. As I was reading, I could totally imagine me being in your shoes... Probably because I am. I'm glad that your office mates were there for you, though. And I totally understand you feeling awkward now about going to work on Monday, but here's the thing... Maybe it's good that this happened. Maybe it will cease at least some of the baby talk from now on. I know you feel badly about that but here's the thing- if something were happening in someone else's life - I don't know maybe an illness or a death in the family or something like that... I'd want to know, so I wouldn't say things in front of someone that would be hurtful... Maybe now your friends know how you feel more than they did before- and maybe now, they'll tone down some of the baby talk? I guess all this to say- try not to worry about it. I know I would be too if I were you, but your reaction was so normal and we all would have done and felt the same!! xoxoxo

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so sorry this happened and I'm so sorry you are in a situation everyday where you have to hear baby talk. This is exactly the reason I don't talk much about babies at work. I only talk about it when asked but don't ever offer up anything. you just never know what someone's story is and I know all too well how upsetting it can be to hear about babies and pregnancies. I have had my fair share of cries at work, though thankfully for many of them I was able to get outside for a walk so no one saw me. But not always. It's hard to keep it together when you feel so emotionally raw all the time. Hopefully, this will make your coworkers a little more sensitive to your feelings (though I am impressed these men knew exactly what was bothering you without asking). Take care of yourself this weekend.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This doesn't happen, EVER, but this post made me cry. I'm crying! I think it's because I can totally feel that pricking behind the eyes of tears threatening to fall... you describe it perfectly. And you're right, when someone comes over to hug you or console you it makes it so much worse. It's just like, please let me soldier on and pretend I can hold back my misery in peace, thank you.

    It's so shitty. It's just such a shitty situation in every possible way. I think we've all had our fair share of breakdowns at work... for my most recent, I pretended I was crying at a YouTube video rather than admit what I was actually crying over. Everyone I work with knows my situation, too, but I just didn't feel like being comforted. At least no one tries to give you a hug over sad animal videos on YouTube.

    I'm sending you the biggest hug right now. I'm sorry that it's so hard to be happy for them and sad for you and find that balance. Not that it was no big deal, but I bet by Monday it will have "blown over" considerably. At least now they will hopefully know to be a bit more sensitive.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh honey. I feel like I could have written this post. For me, it's not the biggest things, but the things that I least expect that seem to throw me off my game. Like you said, the men talking about babies. That is completely something that would throw me off too.

    If you can be especially kind to yourself this week. Distraction is my best friend. This isn't your fault. At all.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oh I am sorry this happened. But I am sure that they understand (at least as best as someone who hasn't been there can). I know the feeling for the infertility undertow - I like how you describe it. Perhaps this will help them be a little more aware of how much baby talk they are doing at work. I hope that you were able to have a relaxing Friday

    ReplyDelete
  9. I cried right along with you as I read this. I've had more than my fair share of ugly cries at work and was caught by a coworker once. It...sucks. I'm so sorry that this happened, but please don't beat yourself up for showing your feelings. I understand that you don't want to make your coworkers uncomfortable, but I think it's ok that they know how uncomfortable YOU are during these conversations. Big hugs to you.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lady, I'm so sorry. This just sucks on so many levels. I think it's amazing that you were so support of your coworker. I just think you pushed yourself past your limit. I know, it sucks that there's a limit. But right now there is. So, stop beating yourself up. Because you really did an amazing thing with being so supportive, even if it was a bit much. And I'm also completely in agreement with Jenny: it IS a good thing that your coworkers were a bit uncomfortable because they are learning too. So take it easy on yourself today, do something extra nice for yourself and come Monday it will all be okay.

    And I promise: one way or another, all of this will pass. Sending many hugs in the meantime.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I'm so sorry you were pushed to your limit with all that baby talk. I think you did remarkably well holding it together for as long as you did! Like you, I hate crying at work, even though most people know our situation. But aside from that, I don't think you have any reason to feel bad for crying. It's not your fault that the non-stop chatter was too much to take. It doesn't make you a bad person because you couldn't be even more supportive than you already were. I think sometimes we feel forced into putting on a brave face and supporting others when all we're really doing is torturing ourselves. So stop it. Take care of yourself and enjoy the rest of your weekend. By Monday, I'm sure things will be back to normal--only maybe better than normal if the baby talk is toned down a bit!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Oh so sorry! I hate when this happens. There seems to be some rough patches going around. I feel like I just went through one. I hope you find some peace soon. I wouldn't worry about the whole supervisor - subordinate thing. People are people and they understand. Even when those people say those ridiculous things to make us feel better they just care. I'm sure these guys just care. And they have both been through infertility in some fashion so I am SURE they have seen the impromptu cry from their wives. Big hugs girl. XOXO

    ReplyDelete
  13. Ugh I can relate to this all too well. It's awkward. Every bit of it. It's always so hard to hear the words, "It will happen for you too." I know they mean well, and are just being encouraging. But the fact is, it won't happen for all of us. If there is one thing infertility has taught me, it is that nothing is a guarantee. Please know, it is perfectly ok to have those feelings, and all of us will eventually go through a breakdown in front of people. I'm sure things will settle down next week. Sending you virtual hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  14. It is so hard to balance being truly happy for someone as they announce big milestones, while being so scared and frustrated about what you are going through yourself. Showing your emotions like this just means you are human and it sounds like your coworkers will not make a big deal out of it or even look at you differently. This journey is so terribly hard -- be extra good to yourself!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm so so sorry Aramis! I HATE crying at work. I hate crying in front of all but a select few people. (And reading this has added 'my own office' to the list of things I'm thankful for in all this, since if I didn't, the list of people who have seen me cry would be a lot longer!)

    A silver lining has been that many times it's brought me closer to the person who saw me. It made me a little bit more human in their eyes (in a good way), and gave them the freedom to share more of their humanness with me...

    Hopefully you'll find a silver lining too. In the mean time, I'm sorry. It sucks. And we're all thinking of you and sending our virtual hugs.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh no, I'm so sorry. It's so hard to be happy for them when inside you feel so sad for your own lack of baby. I have several expecting coworkers at the moment, though fortunately only one of them is constantly talking about it (although she does it so much it kind of makes up for the rest being quiet...)
    Like you, I'd have lost the fight against the tears the moment anyone tries to comfort me. Hope things have calmed down by tomorrow.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I am so sorry that that happened. It is an awful feeling. I did the same thing.. but not with my co-workers... with my in-laws who were teasing me about getting pregnant and laughing. It worked my last nerve until i finally started screaming at them. Sobbing like a small child and screaming. It was the most awful moment and then for weeks after came the emails and the apologies which were even worse to deal with. We have all had these moments. Hugs to you.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am so sorry. One announcement by co-worker is hard enough and you were just bombarded. It cuts deep and I know it hurts so badly.

    I hope this week goes by quickly and all the excitement calms down.

    Thinking of you!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh Aramis...I can only imagine how tough this was to get through. I couldn't even read it without tearing up. I had super sloppy sob-fest about 3 weeks ago...while waiting for an airplane :o) What can you do?

    ReplyDelete
  20. Just catching up on everything now... this post breaks my heart :( Maybe next time just say you do have an allergy. An allergy to incessant baby talk! OK maybe not -- but I know what you mean about the moment someone offers kind words and sympathy, the tears just come bursting out. I never realized how fortunate I was to endure infertility and IVF while working from home, rather than in an office, where at least one person at any given time is guaranteed to be knocked up. Sigh...

    ReplyDelete
  21. I know I'm late here, but I'm so sorry. One of my most hated things about infertility and how it makes us sad is the side effect of our sadness making fertiles feel like they can't talk about their experiences. So we end up taking on that guilt, too. I HATE that.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Aww Hun, that just sucks. Hopefully things have been okay and somewhat back to normal for you by now. I totally get being embarrassed, but you shouldn't feel like a shitty asshole. Sounds like your co workers could at least sympathize. Nothing about IF is fair, and this is just another perfect example. Hugs to you!

    ReplyDelete

I'm needy and your comments validate me. Help a sister out!