I recently attended an all-day continuing medical education workshop. During a break, one of the conference administrators drew names of participants to give away some water bottles and other promotional items. As I really don't want one more piece of clutter in my house, I was hoping that my name would not be called. Then the administrator called any pregnant women or anyone who had a baby within the past year to the front of the auditorium, as she had a special gift - a baby bib.
I'm not sure what came over me, but I thought, "I'm about to start infertility treatments -does that count?" I realised that no one here knows me. I could come out as an infertile woman. I started to walk up to the front of the room. Then suddenly I stopped myself. I didn't want to hear others talk in an excited tone about our up coming IVF as if it would actually work. I didn't want to have to explain that this is actually our second cycle, so our prognosis isn't very promising. I didn't want anyone's pity. Yet at the same time, I feared that the administrator would tell me "No, you can't have one. You don't have a baby and you're not pregnant. 'In the process of an IVF cycle' doesn't count..." I highly doubted she would say it, but those words were in my own head.
As an effort to cover up, I walked over to one girl who I earlier overheard announce that she was pregnant with her second and asked if I could take a look at the bib. Hers was yellow as she doesn't know the gender and it had the company's logo on the front. The material looked cheap. If I were pregnant I wouldn't actually want one. As I returned to my seat, my inner bitter infertile returned; Fucking A! I can't escape it anywhere!
Once seated, I had a view of all the new parents and preggers who were holding their bibs and posing for a photo to go up on the company's website. I metaphorically gagged a bit, but I acknowledged that I didn't belong among them. It was a game of 'one of these things is not like the others'. A mere hopeful, pathetic infertile is not entitled to the same recognition as actual parents and women with a viable pregnancy. Then it really hit me. I'm really reluctant to admit this, but part of me just wanted to feel included. Perhaps it's the most petty of all the infertility related pain, but it's presence is nonetheless palpable. I feel like the girl in high school who is rejected by the popular clique.
"You didn't want one?" asked the guy who was sitting next to me. He was probably in his late 50s or early 60s. Earlier he had mentioned that he had two grown kids and a one year old grandson, whom he described as the new "love of his life". A lump was forming in my throat as I thought about the words my parents would use for their grandchild if they ever were to have one. Please don't ask me if I have any kids, I telepathically pleaded and he obliged. "Oh, I was just curious to see what they looked like..." I lied as I pulled out my notebook to prepare for the next session. After the next break he returned with a bib in hand. He picked one up for his grandson. "Here, you can see it up close." he showed me.
"I am infertile and I've had two miscarriages." I revealed to him. "I thought about asking for one as we're in the process of infertility treatments, but I can't allow myself to engage in any optimistic actions as it makes it so much harder when we do encounter heartbreak." Silence. There were no words of encouragement offered. No looks of pity in my direction. No questions asked. He opened his notebook to the next session. Not only were the popular girls scoffing and dismissing me, it seemed that no one else wanted anything to do with me. I felt like the girl sitting alone at a table in the cafeteria, as she watches everyone else laughing and having fun.