The other day I had an awkward interaction with a colleague. She announced that she and her husband would be trying for a second child and I stared at her like a deer in the headlights.
I realized immediately that it was awkward, but not why it was awkward until later. Later it dawned on me that I didn’t respond the way that I was supposed to. If she had told me that her and her husband were looking into getting a dog or looking into buying a house, I would have responded positively and with some excitement in my voice. I think this is how most people must respond when someone tells them they’re trying to have a baby, but I just stared blankly at her and waited for her to change the topic. I would like to think that the situation would have been less awkward if she knew my dirty little secret.
Very few people know about our troubles with conceiving. I used to like it that way. I liked leading a double-life; being the put-together and accomplished worker bee during the day and the emotional-infertile at night. I liked not getting pity looks or answering dumb questions or having to explain myself. But now this rouse is getting harder to keep up and I’m beginning to think the cost-benefit analysis is tipping in the other direction.
This is who currently know about our struggles: my parents, C’s parents, my sisters, 1 of 3 of C’s sisters, two colleagues of perhaps 50 or so people I interact with at work, and two friends (of which neither live in the same town and we only communicate via phone).
These are the people who don’t know: any extended family (that I’m aware of), my other 48 or so colleagues, all of my other friends that are in town and I see regularly, my boss, all of C’s friends but one, all of our mutual couple-friends, and anyone at my church.
I should add the most of my mom’s co-workers know, because she talks to them about it. Also, family friends that have watched me grow up know because my mom told them, but no one has brought it up to me so I don’t care much about this and they don’t really count on either list.
Why is so easy for my mom to tell people but not me? How do you work that sort of thing into conversation? I had lunch today with a few of the girls from work and never once did it seem appropriate to say, “And by the way, I’m infertile, please pass the ketchup.”
We have a big work meeting next Friday and it is a definite possibility that I will have to have a monitoring appointment that morning, which would make me a little late for the meeting. I’m secretly hoping this is the case because then I will have an “excuse” to tell my boss, “I want to let you know in advance that I will be late to the meeting because I have an appointment that morning for infertility treatment….” I’ve got it all planned out. What will hopefully be implied is “…and this is why I’ve been less productive and flakier than usual the past several months.”
As for the rest of the world, maybe there will come a time when it just seems natural and obvious of when to divulge this information. Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and allow for some immediate awkwardness for the sake of future clarity.