Infertility Awareness Week: In My Shoes

6:00 am.  You wake to your alarm shrieking and swing your arm out from under the covers to silence it.  Dragging yourself out of bed, you wince at the sharp pains in your abdomen.  You walk to the full-length mirror and stare at your reflection.  Small bruises pocket your stomach.  You don't bother turning to look at your butt.  You already know how bruised it is.  Your stomach is taut, ballooning out from the medication you took this month to make your body grow follicles.  You sigh, and turn on the shower.  It doesn't matter any way.  You have another shot to give in your stomach before you leave for work.

8:00 am.  You arrive at the office, walk to your desk and turn on the computer.  You don't mean to, but you log on to Facebook.  You see a post about yet another girl who you went to high school with, who is pregnant with her third child with as many fathers.  You quickly scroll past that, but seeing picture after picture of babies is starting to make your head hurt.

12:00 pm.  You join some of your co-workers for lunch.  The headache you had earlier has intensified.  You gave up caffeine a few weeks ago, at the advice of some friends, thinking maybe it will help you become more fertile.  You are sitting with a women who has a belly that looks ready to pop any day.

"Lord!" she complains, absently rubbing her stomach, "I can't wait until this baby is out of me!"  The other three agree, telling their own stories of pregnancy.

You feel a nudge.  Your coworker sitting next to you has poked you in the side and asks, "So... when are you planning on having kids?"

You mumble something about when your husband finishes school.

"Are you sure your husband is doing it right?" another jokes.  The whole table roars with laughter.  You excuse yourself and go back your desk before they can see the tears.

3:00 pm.  Your friend comes over to your desk.  She is the only one you told, because she caught you in the bathroom while you were giving yourself an injection several months ago.

"How are you doing?" she asks you, "When is your pregnancy test?"

You tell her it's not for a few more days.

"Well don't think too much about it," she urges, "Try to relax.  I just know its going to happen for you.  I feel it deep down inside!"

5:30 pm.  You and your husband just got home.  The weekend is coming up and you two have dinner plans with three other couples.  You are feeling a little nauseous, silently cursing the new medication you started taking.  You eat a little snack, hoping you feel better.  "Maybe this is a good sign," your husband says, smiling.  You don't say anything.  You've been down this road before.  You refuse to think about the future until your test.

7:00 pm.  You and your husband arrive at the restaurant where your friends are waiting.  You greet them with a hug and someone orders two bottles of wine.  The bottle is passed around, poured into small wine glasses.  You pass.  You can't drink during your two week wait.  Your friend Kristy giggles to her husband of 4 months and passes the bottle on without pouring any.  Your other friend starts a toast to the weekend and everyone raises their glasses.

"I actually am not drinking tonight," your friend Kristy announces.  There is a dramatic pause as everyone turns to Kristy.  She takes a breath.


"Curtis and I are so excited to announce that we are pregnant!" she exclaims.

The other two girls gasp and gush their congratulations while their husbands nod in approval.  Your smile seems frozen to your face, as if you are waiting for the punchline to a joke.  Your breath catches in your throat.  Beside you, you feel your husband stiffen and reach for your hand under the table.

"We started trying on our wedding night, but those four months just dragged on.  I thought we were never going to get pregnant!" Kristy gushed.  She turns to you.  You suddenly are eminently aware that you are still smiling, but still haven't said a word.

"Congratulations," you manage to say, "That's so exciting."  You hope it sounds sincere.  You pray no one notices the slight shake of your hand.  You tuck it under the table before anyone sees.  You've suddenly lost your appetite.  The conversation turns to baby names and sonograms.  You are trying to stop it, but the tears keep threatening to appear.  You will be damned if you let them see you cry.

Quietly excusing yourself, you carefully avoid the concerned gaze of your husband.  You walk to the bathroom and find it empty.  The door closes and the tears come.  You grip the sink and a sob escapes your mouth.

It's not fair, it's not fair, it's not fair...

You study yourself in the mirror and note how tired you look.  The years of infertility treatments have taken a toll on you.  You barely recognize the women you see.  You take some deep breaths.  You practice your brave smile.  It's hard to see it through the blur of the tears.  You will yourself to stop crying.  The last thing you need is for one of your friends to walk in and find you like this.

Head held high, you walk out and join your table.  The conversation about Kristy's pregnancy has ended.

11:00 pm: You don't speak much on the way home.  There isn't much to say, really.  Your husband hugs you and carries you to bed.  He kisses you.  The tears have started again.

"Come on," he says quietly, "Let's get this over with."

You reach into your nightstand... and pull out the alcohol wipes.  You husband returns from the kitchen and hands you the vial and syringe.  You draw it up, a practiced technician now, with all the shots you have done.  You hand it to your husband and pull your pants down your hips.  You turn around, bracing yourself on the bed.  Kristy's face appears in front of you, her face glowing with her news.  You close your eyes, the image washing away as you feel the pain of the needle sink into your body.  The sting, as he carefully injects it.

"It's not fair," you whisper, as he withdraws the needle.  Your hand automatically moves behind you, massaging the area to disperse the medication that may or may not be supporting a life inside you.

"No," is all he says, softly.

You crawl into bed, the weariness taking hold of you.  You are exhausted.  Your husband puts his arm around you, holding you close.  You are two people, brought together to face a nightmare most cannot fathom.  Tonight, you will cry and press closer to him.  Tomorrow, you will again face the world.  You will go to work, you will drive in traffic, you will see your friends.  You will laugh at jokes. 

But tonight it is just you and him.  And alone in the dark, that is enough.

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