Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My birthday gift to myself not charting. I just needed a break. (I feel like I'm always needing a break!)

I feel like things are pretty much stalled in terms of medical treatment. I've checked zero items off my "list of three" I got from my new doctor back in October.

SA: how can one simple test be so darned complicated?!? Because it's my blog, I feel at liberty to complain. (grumble grumble) The one piece of advice my new doctor said was, "why don't you take the sample to [big local fertility company]?" Not so simple. We called them up, and you have to be a patient of theirs for them to run the test. I don't want to be their patient. I don't want anything to do with them. They are one of the biggest (if not the biggest) IVF clinics in the country. No way am I going in there to have a doctor push IVF on us. What a waste of time.

So then we had to call around and find other possible labs. Well, I can't do that at work - who wants their coworker overhear them ordering a semen analysis? Not me. So Mr. M has been calling (I'm very grateful) and it's so awkward! It's also a real challenge to find a place that will take our insurance, or will give us a quote up front. There are two places that might be in driving range (meaning we could do the test at home). That would be great because last time we tried from a hotel and the time crunch (check-in time, check-out time) just put too much pressure on it. But still, I'll have to take time off from work, time which I don't really have because of the holidays.

Really, why don't napro doctors run their own SA tests? Especially because you have to bring it in - it would just make things so much easier. I don't know, maybe some do?


Ovulation ultrasounds: well, I'll be mid-cycle at my parents over Thanksgiving, and then at my in-laws over Christmas. So January is the earliest I can do this test. But January I have a sizeable project at work with an end of the month deadline, so honestly I think it will be February before I do this. And the time commitment gets me: at least an hour for multiple days. That's just not easy when you work full-time!

Surgery: won't happen until the other 2 are done, so that's that.

With no medical options in the near future, I am giving myself the birthday gift of not even checking my "vitals." No charting at all. Just trying to love my husband, spend more time in prayer, and doing things I love. Not a bad way to spend Advent, I think! I hadn't realized what resentment I'd been harboring toward charting until I stopped doing it for a day or two and just felt incredibly relieved.


11 randoms + 11 answers for Sayin' I Love You

Sayin' I Love You nominated me for a Liebster award, and I'm sorry I'm taking so long to respond to it! Sometimes it's hard to find time for blogging. But I think it's a neat idea and I'm honored to be asked, so without further ado, here are my answers:

Step 1: Post 11 random facts about yourself

1. It's my birthday today =)

2. I have time to blog because my generous husband is making me dinner! He made the dessert first, so I've been enjoying these Italian cookies called "couchidatas" or something - they're basically dough & nut balls covered with powdered sugar. Yum.

3. My mind went's hard to know what counts as "random". I guess something a lot of people don't know about you? favorite movie growing up (school-age) was "A League of their own" (I played softball for years and loved it.)

4. I have 8 nieces and nephews, including a set of quadruplets. All on Mr. M's side.

5. I'm a convert to the Catholic faith. (Anabaptist --> Methodist --> Catholic)

6. Apparently my birthday is the day when Our Lady appeared to St. Catherine Labore and gave her the miraculous medal (a priest friend told me that - I never knew!)

7. I had a heart surgery right before my sophomore year of college, to correct atrioventricular tachycardia (basically my heart beat too fast). I'm fine now, thanks =)

8. Every summer growing up my family vacationed at Cape may, New Jersey.

9. Both sides of my family have been in the U.S. since before it was a country.

10. My husband proposed to me on a hike next to a waterfall. It was the same hike where we met (on a group outing).

11. The wierdest food combination I enjoy is pork rinds dipped in strawberry cream cheese.

Whew! That was actually kind of tough to think of interesting "random" facts!

Now I have to answer 11 questions from Sayin' I Love You. Here goes...

1.  Why did you start a blog?
As my sidebar said, I needed a place to think through this quite difficult experiencing of wanting to conceive and not being able to. I wanted to connect with other Catholic women who were going through the same thing.

2.  What is your favorite time of your day?
The morning! I'm definitely a morning person. I love the freshness of a new day with nothing gone wrong husband is a night person, so that's been interesting!

3.  When was the last time you cried and why?
Last night because I found out a classmate's wife is having her second baby.

4.  Do you like to leave comments on other people's blogs? Why or why not?
I do! I probably don't comment as much as I should. I like encouraging other people because I really appreciate when people encourage me in the comments.

5.  What is your favorite quote?
Oh wow. about "man cannot live without love" from Bl. John Paul II. (Redemptor Hominis)

6.  What is your guilty pleasure?
I honestly don't know if I have one...sometimes I like eating the ice cream start out of the carton.

7.  Do you have any talents?
I've been told I'm a good writer (I guess you all could judge that!) and I'm a decent singer.

8.  How old were you when you had your first kiss?
I was 16. The guy dumped me on my birthday several years later, so I try not to think about that relationship.

9.  How do you feel about plastic surgery?
I can see that it would be needed sometimes, like after a burn or to correct an abnormality. But I think it's sad when people change their healthy body because they don't think they're beautiful or worthy of love.

10.  What is your favorite childhood memory?
Thankfully, I have a lot! How about (seasonally appropriate)...playing in the snow until I was frozen through, then coming inside to a cup of hot chocolate and sitting at the kitchen table reading a book and feeling so warm and safe and happy.

11.  How did you come up with the name for your blog?
It just jumped into my mind. I read a book once ("On Being Catholic" by Thomas Howard) where he talked about "Ecce. Fiat" as the fundamental words of a Christian, and I thought that was beautiful.

Okay...I'm sorry, but I'm going to be lazy and not do the last part! I hope you don't mind, Sayin' I Love You! You asked almost all the people I know in blog land anyway =)

thanks again for "tagging" me - that was fun!

I hope you all have a blessed Thanksgiving! You're in my prayers


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I attended a baby shower

AND I went in Babies R Us to get a gift!

I'm kind of proud of myself =)

The friend whose baby shower it was is a former IF sufferer. She and her husband went through 6 years of TTC plus 2 m/cs before they conceived their daughter, who is due in January. Because of her background, she's been so incredibly sympathetic toward me and Mr. M.

For example, when she told us she was pregnant, she said right away, "It's okay if you cry - I bawled my eyes out when my best friend told me she was pregnant with her fourth. I understand." and I believed her. (I didn't cry.)

When we got the invitation to her shower, I immediately knew I wanted to go to support them. Plus - and this was a big factor! - it was addressed to both me and Mr. M. In my humble opinion, co-ed showers are a million, gajillion times easier than women-only showers.

So we went, with the goal of supporting our friends who have been through so much. And it went fine. I was right about the co-ed part: it was so calming to get to be next to Mr. M and to be in mixed company so every single sentence wasn't gushing about babies. We talked about other stuff and that kept me peaceful. Plus the hosts (our expectant friends) were just so gracious. They weren't braggy about their baby, and the mom didn't complain about pregnancy - they were just so happy and grateful and honestly it was very hopeful for me to see that. After 6 years, a child! Wow.

We couldn't stay through all the presents because I had to work that night, but even that was okay. The mom thanked everyone before opening gifts for being there, and got choked up saying how grateful they were for their child, and it was just so humble and lovely. No hint at all of "well, we got married last year, so this is what happens, go us" or anything like that.

Who knows what I'll do when the next shower rolls around. But I'm really glad we went to this one - I think they received our presence as a gift of love, knowing our circumstances.


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Not this month

Another cycle, come and gone.

Every failed cycle, there's something specific that I miss, that could have been but wasn't. That will never be. This specific child - never going to exist.

This time, it's pretty obvious: no "news" for my parents at Thanksgiving. A bit harder even: another birthday will come and go without a baby inside or outside the womb. Another calendar year...that's tough. Also (and I usually don't do this!) I looked up when a potential baby would be due, I guess in a fleeting moment of hopefulness, and the baby-that-isn't would've been due around the feast of St. Joachim and Anne. That would have been cool. Oh well.

I grieve all those specifics.

This cycle was kind of funny too: I felt crampy 5 days before my period actually started. No bleeding of any kind, just a dull kind of "pinch" for 5 days. Of course the one little hopeful cherub left in my brain tried to convince me, "maybe it's implantation cramps??" but I ignored it - been there, done that.

Also, for extra pizzazz, getting my period now means that my next "fertile window" (I just can't help putting it in quotes...sorry) will be while we're visiting my family over Thanksgiving. Sleeping in a very uncomfortable guest bed, in the room next to my parents. I joked with Mr. M that I would ask my mom and dad to get us a hotel room: "How much do you really want a grandchild?" ha ha. Just kidding!

What else is there to say? I'm just proud of myself for still going to work after AF showed, for being outwardly cheerful while I was inwardly crying, for still going with Mr. M to give a talk at marriage prep, for still making dinner, getting out of bed in the morning, etc. Not letting grief get the best of me. (It's crazy how much we IF ladies have to endure, and most of it is so hidden...)


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Am I on the cycle of spiritual fruitfulness?

Guest post by Mr. M! He's really getting into this blogging thing =)

Gratitude for infertility? “Yeah right. That's not for me! That's not my temperament! And really God, I think it is okay for me to be sad given my hardships! Any just God would understand why I can't be thankful for infertility – it's an evil after all – and God doesn't want me to be thankful for evil - right?”

All of these thoughts have entered my mind at one time or another during this infertility struggle my wife and I have been experiencing. But as soon as I think these thoughts, then I read Paul's challenge: “Be filled with the Spirit . . . giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:18; emphasis added). Be thankful “at all times” and for “everything?” “Well that would seem to include suffering and evil – like infertility. What gives? Really Lord – you want me to be thankful for that? I'll be thankful for other things but not for that. That's impossible!” From on high then I hear a voice speak soft to my heart through this scripture: “Yes, my son, I want you to be thankful for even that.” Long pause. Selfishness of wanting to do things my own way slowly starting to crumbling and then a big “Hummph” heaved on my part.

As usual, this is one of those passages in scripture that I am tempted to pass over for more comfortable, bourgeois ones that already fit who I am and what I do. I have, as my former pastor and still friend Fr. Larry Richards puts it, a tendency to pick and choose which scripture passages I like to hear and tend to pick those that are the most convenient for me. But this won't do as a Christian! As Christians we are called to accept the entire Gospel and all biblical directives no matter how difficult they are for us to understand or to practice. No picking and choosing allowed here. We must choose all or nothing. So “I choose all” I say finally to that angelic voice yet quickly follow it up with “Maybe you could tell me a little bit about how I can do this Lord?! Help my unbelief and unwillingness!”

This is how my dialogue went recently with God and all of these thoughts forced me to examine my attitude toward gratitude. I thought to myself, “Do I treat gratitude as just one of those nice pious sentiments that yeah we should in general do, but when it costs us then I can chuck it off my Christian to-do list? In other words do I make gratitude just a platitude? You know, a platitude - one of those nice things we tell ourselves and others to do but secretly justify to not do because of the aforementioned reasons above. Yes, I know I have treated gratitude in that way and have brushed off the Christian teaching to be thankful 'at all times' and for 'everything' on more than one occasion.” So I began to examine my soul more in depth. Why do I do this? “Usually,” I concluded, “it is because of a lack of knowledge as to why something is good for me and usually it is because I have too limited of thoughts on the topic or then again sometimes I am just selfish. I just want to go on the shorter, easier road.” But as usual, God wants to break open my limited thoughts and actions here. So I pressed on in my search these last few days for a deeper meaning of gratitude. Here is what the Lord has taught me so far, although I know I am nowhere near done learning about how to be grateful like Christ.

I was reading another great book by Jacques Phillipe called The Way of Trust and Love: A Retreat Guided by St. Therese of Lisieux. In that book, he started to discuss gratitude not just as a good practice to do occasionally to uplift our spiritual lives, but actually as a necessary law of every spiritual life. In other words, gratitude is not an option. It is something we have to practice regardless of temperament or disposition. “Okay, but why?” Here Jacques Phillipe gives a further insight that has proved helpful to me in the last week or two. He calls gratitude a necessary part of the circle of a healthy spiritual life as opposed to the circle of an unsatisfied, unhealthy spiritual life. I would like to use more colorful terms related to our particular suffering here. So lets call these two patterns the “cycle of spiritual fruitfulness” and the “cycle of spiritual infertility”.

Cycle of Spiritual Fruitfulness

The cycle of spiritual fruitfulness, according to Jacques Phillipe, interpreting St. Therese of Lisieux's thought, begins with trust in God, which is nourished through a life of faithfulness in prayer to God. As a necessary part of this trust, Jacques Phillipe says, we must be grateful before all questions are resolved in regard to our suffering because gratitude opens up our heart to God. Finding a way to be grateful for things opens up our heart because it moves us away from thinking of only our weaknesses or only on the evil, which is not God, to what is good and therefore of God. As we see more of God, then we give more to God and in turn receive more of God's love and grace in our life. As we receive more of His love, then we are healed more and are also able to grow in love more. This cycle then repeats as we grow in love and we become more and more loved and loving little by little. Thus, this is the slow path towards growth and spiritual fruitfulness, but it begins with trust and gratitude. Here is a nifty diagram I created.

Trust Gratitude
Love Opens Heart

Cycle of Spiritual Infertility

Now, the opposite of this cycle of spiritual fruitfulness is the cycle of spiritual infertility. The cycle of spiritual infertility begins with a lack of trust in God through a lack of faithfulness to one's prayer life. In place of gratitude there is a negativity focused on our weaknesses, what we lack, and our suffering. This negativity closes our hearts off from God because we are focusing on what is not God. As a result, this ingratitude makes God's love more distant from us through our own action. As a result, we push the healing and love away in exchange for nursing sourly one's wounds and isolation. If we let this endure too long, then our whole life becomes one big storm of sadness and anger. Eventually, we can even turn bitter toward life in general and eventually hateful towards others and God. Sure, it may be an extreme to become hateful towards others and God, but nonetheless we can isolate ourselves as the result of not having trust and gratitude and this invariably leads to less love. Here is a diagram of the cycle of spiritual infertility.

Distrust Negativity
Less Love Closed Heart

So, the cycle of spiritual fruitfulness offers us several good reasons for why Paul instructs us to be grateful at all times and for everything with no exception. What I have learned is that I want to open up my heart more to the Lord and to thereby love more, so I must find a way to be thankful for all things - even for infertility.

With this in mind, I went back to my dialogue with God. I asked God for the grace to be more grateful moment to moment in my daily life for everything. God, in turn, has asked me when I am tempted to be ungrateful and negative to make an act of trust in the moment and find something to be grateful for – health, the fresh crisp autumn air perhaps, or even more profoundly - my wonderful wife – and thereby to become more aware of His love in my life. Slowly then I become a little more grateful and a little less negative and eventually I hope to become with God's help grateful for everything in my life.

This gratefulness at all times, like the Gospel command to pray at all times, does not come overnight and does not necessitate a formal act of thankfulness at every moment. In fact, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches about prayer - to pray always requires us to pray sometimes - so too with gratitude. To be thankful always requires us to be thankful consciously sometimes throughout the day in the little, hidden moments of the day, but obviously not necessarily consciously through a formal act at all times. So I need to practice this gratitude sometimes through my day. As I become more grateful in those little moments, I will not only be able to resist ingratitude in the big, more difficult moments, like when I think about our infertility after seeing our friend's kids bop around me at their house, but also it will help me to be grateful even for our suffering. In this way, I think I am slowly becoming thankful at all times, although such a task even with God's grace is still far off for me. I am very unfinished. But through grace I have come to learn that while we may not be able to control our natural cycles of fertility, we can always choose what spiritual cycle we are in. So I choose the cycle of spiritual fruitfulness. What cycle are you on? Come Holy Spirit, make all of us more grateful!

And oh yes – “Lord I thank you for these insights, for the holy resolve to put these insights into practice, for our blogger friends who are reading this lengthy post and haven't passed out yet with reader's fatigue, for heat on a cold day, my daily Sacrament with my wife and yes . . . okay . . . fine . . . I thank you even for the cross of our infertility that mysteriously brings us closer to one another and You by teaching us all of these challenging lessons that we may have not learned otherwise.”

Please pray for us to continue to stay on the right cycle as we will pray for all of your cycles both natural and supernatural!

+Ecce Fiat's Husband+

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Day-dreaming, and two prayers

I've been in a day-dreamy mood. Dreaming about the future, in particular. What will tomorrow bring? What will next year bring? Of course those dreams are wrapped up with our hopes to become father and mother. I asked Mr. M the other day in the car (I was upset because I read a pg announcement of a non-IF blogger, but I was too embarrassed to tell Mr. M that): "Do you think we'll ever get to a point where we'll look back on this time and it will all just be a bad dream?"

I felt a little bad saying that, because I knew it implied that life with my wonderful husband could be a "bad dream"...I was in a dramatic mood, what can I say. But I do look back on other times in my life and they are like bad dreams: the time immediately after my boyfriend of four years broke up with me. That was a rough year and my heart really only started to heal after I did mission work for a summer and after he proposed to his new girlfriend. Totally bad dream material. You couldn't pay me a million dollars to go back to that episode.

So when will we turn the corner? When will all of this IF struggle be but a bad dream, an experience that helped us grow but that - good riddance - is over?

And that got me thinking: wow, this is not a way to live a life...hoping for nothing more that time progresses faster already and the next phase of life comes. Of all the indignities that IF brings, I think this is the worst: the sense of disappointment about my life. The sense of incompleteness, of foreboding sadness, of the "siamese twin of suffering" (a phrase from a fellow IF sufferer).

So here's prayer #1: Dear God, please let IF not have such a grip on my life! 

I really, really miss not going on the roller-coaster of hope and disappointment each month. I can barely remember what it was like pre-IF to get my period and not have an intense emotional reaction. It just was a fact of being female, nothing more or less.

If I'm perfectly honest with myself, I would definitely say that IF consumes a large amount of my waking thoughts. It's just always there, like my shadow. Does it define me? If so, I resent that. But I can't deny that IF has become a defining factor of our married life. We talk about it often - it's just always there.

I want to be just live my life and not have to always be thinking about being childless, always fighting back against inner tendencies to be jealous, to sulk, to plead, to beg for a child.

And that brings me to prayer #2. This one is pretty standard, I guess: Dear God, please show me what you want me/us to do with our lives.

I wrote about it before: not having children really opens up options. Of course I know that it's enough to just live our marriage, witness to Christ through our love, do our jobs well, and be content. No question about that. And maybe that's what God will ask us to do: live a childless life, happy with each other, open to serving those in our families and neighborhood, living "the little way" that St. Therese talks about so beautifully.

But I can't shake the desire of my heart for something more. I can't shake the desire of my heart for motherhood. And this thought occurred to me recently: how wonderful it would be to have something to do that takes so much energy and is so worthwhile and fulfilling that I don't have the time or luxury of sitting around feeling sorry for myself and my childlessness!

For example, mission work. Mr. M and I have talked about this recently. I spent a summer on mission in Honduras, and I loved it tremendously. I felt so alive. It felt so worthwhile. I spent a LOT of time with little kids and loved every minute. Those experiences have been returning to my mind lately, and Mr. M (who has only done 2 weeks of overseas mission work) voiced the idea independently. He was actually the first one to bring it up as an actual possibility. "Maybe we could go to an orphanage and adopt all the children!!!" was the way he put it. Not sure that's legally possible, but I love his enthusiasm!

What if...and I know this probably sounds nuts, and I'm getting waaaaay ahead of myself...but what if we do go to an orphanage in a foreign country, and we serve there, and we love the children like they were our own, and we give them something of the father and mother they never had, and we serve together, and we live in peace and simplicity, and the knowledge of our infertility becomes less all-consuming and more like one detail of our lives among many more interesting ones.

Like I said, I'm in a day-dreamy mood...

This is why I need God's help to figure out what we should do! Maybe I'll get pregnant next cycle, and that would change things awesomely! Or maybe He will make it clear that we should pursue adoption now. But I'm now at the point where I want to think about what the Catechism calls "performing demanding services for others" (no. 2379) as something to which an infertile couple - us - might be called.

A plan of action

I'm a pretty practical day-dreamer, I guess =) I realized that it would be really cool if Mr. M and I could stand in readiness for whatever God calls us to next. He still needs to finish his dissertation - that's a given. That's at least a year. So over the next year (the Year of the Dissertation, as I'm thinking of it), there is so much we can do to be poised for our next task in the Kingdom. Such as:

  • Prayer prayer prayer! I'd like to get back in the habit of doing a weekly holy hour and maybe even a daily rosary (I'm horrible at both).
  • Spiritual direction: get the wisdom of our favorite priest to help guide us
  • Investigate: explore options of adoption and mission work
  • Simplicity (financial preparation): pay down our last loan, don't rack up debt, don't buy a bunch of stuff that we don't need, practice living simply
[Maybe this is clear "between the lines," but lately I've been feeling ambivalent about continuing medical treatment. I know we've done barely anything, and I know I can change my mind practically at any moment, but I don't feel excited about it and instead feel a real heaviness thinking about a major surgery and even doing an SA...I'll save that for another time, I guess.]

More than anything else, I pray to trust God that He will make His will clear! He will not leave us in the dark, but will guide us if we stay docile to the Spirit. Basically I want to ready our hearts to say "Yes" to whatever the Lord is asking of us. So far our marriage has looked quite different than so many of our friends - maybe that will be the case forever, maybe it won't. But I want to spend less time comparing my life to others' lives and much, much more time seeking my own destiny. =)

And a closing quote, paraphrased (I looooove this quote and idea):

Vocation is where your heart's deepest longing meets the world's deepest needs.

Jesus, I trust in You!

+Ecce Fiat+

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How do you cope with the two week wait?

Any day can be tough when you’re struggling with IF. But I think it’s a well-attested fact that the so-called “two week wait” (2WW) can be particularly hard: that time of the month when you could be pregnant, you might be carrying in your womb an eternal human being fresh from the hand of God…or it could just be you still, barren still. Another cycle, no baby. I’m not sure what God had in mind with this design, but the fact that there’s about fourteen days from the fertile window of my cycle until when I could reasonably know whether the answer is “yes” or “no” to my question Am I pregnant??...that’s a bit tough! Not knocking your divine creativity or anything, God…!

So how do you cope? I was thinking about what helps me, which might be totally different than what helps someone else.

For me, this is how I try to handle the 2WW gracefully and sanely:

1.       Find my happy place. Meaning, project forward something fun/interesting/joyful that’s coming down the road, ideally sometime around when AF is due to arrive. For example, during this 2WW, whenever I catch myself feeling down, I think about our goddaughter’s baptism coming up later in the month. I visualize being there, feeling the love and joy of the moment. Or I think about my birthday, also later this month, and visualize the special surprise Mr. M is preparing and how I’ll feel loved. If there’s no event coming up that I can think about, I try to focus on the good things around me: thank you God for my husband, thank you for the beautiful fall colors, thank you for my general overall health. It’s not a magic charm, but I do find it helpful especially to think about good things coming up, people I’m going to see, as a reminder that my world will still have something good in it even if AF comes.

2.       Distractions! Related to number 1, it can help me to just keep busy. Work is good for this! When big projects are approaching, I simply don’t have the time to wonder “Am I? Am I not?” Taking up hobbies has really helped too – I like reading, playing piano, and sewing. If I can get “lost” in one of those hobbies, the time passes pleasantly and with as little anxiety as possible. Plus it helps me feel like I’m not just twiddling my thumbs waiting for baby, but am becoming a more interesting, well-developed human being.

3.       Take it to Jesus in prayer. I guess I should have listed this as number 1 =) IF has really forced me to cry out to Jesus in a more “real” way than I had before. I like to picture myself resting my head on His Sacred Heart like the beloved disciple St. John. When pangs of longing, anxiety, uncertainty etc. threaten to overwhelm me during the 2WW, I try to turn to Jesus: “Jesus, I trust in you. Jesus, help me.” I speak with Him honestly: “This is so, so hard. Please take this cross away. Please send us a baby” and don’t worry too much about not sounding devout enough…He knows my heart, after all. No fooling Him with pretending to be more holy than I am! =) But of course I ask for the graces to accept this cross, to desire God more than a baby, to not turn babies into idols, and so on. I’ve found the 2WW in general to be very profound spiritually. It’s like my heart is more vulnerable or something.

There’s probably more to say, but those are my top 3. Thoughts?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

How do I not live in fear of pregnancy announcements?

Over-dramatic? Maybe. But really, this has been one of the tougher things about this IF experience: the nervousness, anxiety, fear, whatever word you want to use, that this person I know is going to announce her pregnancy, that I’m going to be caught off guard, react poorly, cry, or internalize it and get all thrown off kilter for hours.

Hello, self. People get pregnant! Apparently other people, but still! Given the number of people I know, and the percentage of those who are married and of reproductive age, it’s not shocking that I get pregnancy announcements on a somewhat regular basis. (Or at least so it seems.)

Here’s one example (these are both true stories, btw): I arrange to meet a friend I haven’t seen in a while. I’m looking forward to catching up, since I haven’t heard from her since before her wedding, almost six months ago. But she’s in town and we’re meeting for lunch. We attended grad school together and formed a close bond, although we hadn't keep much in touch once she moved away. On the way to lunch, I catch myself getting nervous: What if…what if she’s pregnant? How will I react? No, I’m sure would have told me earlier, right? Well, she was pregnant, and she didn’t tell me in advance. She just kind of blurted it out when she first saw me. (She was 20+ weeks - it wasn't like she found out yesterday.) Lunch was…difficult. Me trying to collect my thoughts and be pleasant and happy for her while my heart was bursting with pain, and a fair bit of hurt to be surprised like that…

Or here’s another setup: there’s a coworker who recently got married, and I pass her cubicle often on the way to the kitchenette. Before too long, I see a little cryptic but not-so-cryptic sign in her cubicle to the effect that she’s expecting…wham. Heart pangs again. I take an alternate route to get my coffee now…

So when I’m meeting up with a married friend who isn’t pregnant already or didn’t just have a baby…I wonder. Is she…? How will I handle it? I feel like I have to prepare myself, psych myself up for every encounter…just in case. Because it happens!

And when anyone in my sphere of encounter gets married, I brace myself. Will they announce something soon? How will I handle it?

I wonder if anyone who’s not gone through IF can even get what I’m saying…how much interior preparation it takes just to call a friend I haven’t spoken with (Is she…?) or plan a get-together with a recently-married friend (What if…?). Who knew that would be so hard? I hate it, and I can’t seem to overcome it. My emotions are unpredictable, and I constantly feel vulnerable, wide open to heartache from the innocently begun, “So, we have some news…”

(To my friends' credit, many of them have told Mr. M first about a pregnancy, and let him break the news to me at a good moment. I appreciate that, although it's still far from ideal. I feel bad that Mr. M has to receive all the pg announcements - I know it affects him too, although differently. And some of our friends have told other friends earlier than us, which makes me feel left out. Plus, it's very humbling to feel like I'm being given special treatment, that I "can't handle" a face-to-face announcement like most women. It's true, I can't, but still. I guess there's  just no good way to tell someone, "You know that thing that you've been wanting for over two years? That you think about all the time? That your heart desires more than anything else? Well, I got it." [add: "again / without even trying / and we didn't even want it!" for maximum effect.] Yeah, doesn't seem like there's an easy way to tell someone that.)

This makes me understand why IF can be so isolating. I really do sometimes feel reluctant to attend social gatherings or to call a friend. Depends on where my heart is that day, and where I am in my cycle. And sometimes I feel like I only want to spend time with unmarried friends, because I know they won’t inadvertently trample my tender heart…

Gah. Life is such a minefield when your heart desires a baby.