Saturday, January 7, 2012

Going Somewhere

One year ago today, my world crumbled.  It was that day that my eyes turned into faucets, that day that I started to feel the pain of infertility in every situation, that day that a cloud came to hang over my head and follow me around.  While I have alluded to this over the last year, I don't think that I ever wrote about it in depth, so here is my story.

I had been excited--excited to get together with good friends, excited to eat and nibble on cookies.  But, most of all, in the weeks leading up to the gathering, I had been excited about the fantasy playing out in my head.  One of the most unhealthy things that I have let myself do over the last year is entertain a pregnancy fantasy in my head each and every month.  Every two week wait it happens.  I am powerless against it.  I start dreaming of how I would tell hubs and my friends and family that I was pregnant.  Last January, it was the same thing.  I was dreaming and feeling all the twinges that, though always present, always make me think I am unequivocally pregnant in those last days.  In my head, it would be perfect.  A friend organizing the dinner had come up with this cheesy idea that we should make a list of 30 things to do before we turned 30.  We changed it to 10.  And here's how it was suppose to happen:  It would be my turn and I would say, "Well, I've always wanted to have our first baby before we're thirty and we're pregnant!"  Congratulations would ensue and it would be one of the happiest moments my mind could revisit again and again.

Instead, this is what happened.  I wasn't pregnant.  I had found out a matter of days before and was disappointed that my fantasy had not panned out.  Still, it was only something I had dreamt of privately and like every monthly fantasy, the moment it wasn't to be, it was gone.  Until it wasn't gone and permanently embedded in my head.  We sat around the table and ate and talked and talked.  And then, we began sharing our lists.  Now, let it be said that I find it quite ridiculous to make such a list and then go around the table sharing one by one.  Maybe it is because I am a Kindergarten teacher and it reminds me of circle time, or maybe it is because I am far to sarcastic and cynical for my own good, or maybe it is just because it is absurdly sophomoric and asinine.  At any rate, I was in the middle of it.  I was a little sad when it began that I wouldn't be able to share the news I had dreamt of, but it was a fleeting thought.  We went around the table one by one, laughing, nodding in agreement at the great ideas others had come up with.  And then it was my best friend's turn and she said fairly verbatim, "Well, I've always wanted to have a baby before I was thirty and, I'm pregnant."  

My heart sank immediately.  I'm sure my face went blank.  My husband's hand quickly moved to my knee.  He showed me all the love in the world with that little touch and as I grabbed his hand, I felt as though I were holding on for dear life as the room erupted in a chorus of elated congratulations.  There seemed to be a swarm of people around me getting up for hugs and manly pats on the back.  I swear the room was spinning and I felt as if I were drowning.  I can feel it even now.  It seemed like a lifetime, but in reality, I was up in a matter of seconds giving my own hugs and squeals.

The days that followed are the very reason I started this blog at all--because after that, I was in a downward spiral.  Everything seemed so bleak.  The last two lists that were shared (my husband and my own) were immediately afterthoughts.  They didn't matter, because as we sat there with a couple that had just adopted the most beautiful little boy in the whole world (who has my heart to this day) and a couple that had just announced their pregnancy after six months of marriage and two months of trying, it suddenly seemed as though our lives were going nowhere.

So, it is no surprise that I was quite anxious for the annual dinner this time around.  While this group of friends is close and we see each other regularly, we don't often all get together.  Once a year, twice, maybe three times a year--an unpleasant fact that always strikes me as incredibly odd for great friends, but I guess that's what happens as you get older?

Suffice to say, this is not a year I truly want to reflect on and I was positive it would come to that.  "Oh, so have you done everything you wanted to before you turn 30?  How's your list going?"  I've been hearing this in my head for weeks.  And then I would feel like punching someone in the face.  Like screaming as I threw things across the room.  Like asking them why the fuck they would ever ask me something like that?

Luckily, it didn't come to that and wasn't truly too difficult at all.  Still, no matter how good of a place I feel that I am in, there are still truths of infertility that affect me.  All in all, it was great to see people-good food, good friends, cute babies.  But infertility does not like groups, specifically groups where the discussion tends to drift towards babies.  I was surprised how much the day wasn't driven by baby talk, perhaps naturally, perhaps consciously by everyone individually, or perhaps even discussed before hand collectively.  At any rate,  I appreciated it.

Still, infertility is self-conscious and no matter how hard I try, no matter what positive path we decide we are on, I can't shake it.  When you get together with good friends as a group so infrequently, the discussion is dictated by a want to catch-up, to see what others are up to, what is new in their life.  And when you are continually expecting to be able to share that something new in your life and it never comes to fruition, the thought of such talk is unbearable.  This time around, I am trying to rise above it and not let it get me down.  I completely understand that the conversation will turn to babies and the dramatic life style change that comes with them.  Of course it would--the babies are right there, they're adorable, they're wonderful.  At the same time, in such situations, the fact is that infertility immediately puts on a mopey face and says, "Things are happening in everyone else's life.  Nothing is happening in my life.  What do I have to sit around and talk about?  Nothing.  Humph!"  And no matter how old you are, you feel like going and curling up in a corner to sulk.

Luckily, this time around instead of crumbling, my tough, sensible mind is telling infertility to shut the hell up and focus on the incredibly significant and positive things that are going on in my life.  While it won't get a lot of air time in a room full of babies, the focus of my life right now--my job--is on a pretty incredible trajectory.  The truth is I have been very successful in my field as a teacher and my hard work and long hours are definitely beginning to pay off with recognition and significant leadership roles at school.  Earlier this year, when it was revealed to me that my principal was accepting another position, I was asked if I wanted the job.  I was flattered, flabbergasted, completely taken aback.  It was the biggest compliment I think I have ever received even though I decided not to put my hat in the ring in the end.  Still, the other day, I had a talk with a higher head honcho, finally ready to ask what possibilities there would be for me to move up in the future.  He ran through the new positions he's entertaining adding over the next few years and made it clear that I am someone he wants to move into administration.  "I'm very happy you're here and I know that I will have to give you further opportunities to keep you here," he said.

I hate talking about myself and really am not trying to boast, but here, in my own little arena, I needed to remind myself that I am going somewhere and even if it doesn't include babies, it is still pretty amazing.  I feel incredibly lucky to have found the home that I have with my job and am feeling increasingly lucky that I have quite a few opportunities for growth in the future.  So that is where I am going today.  The tomorrows will bring the babies.

White clouds sash-like
     wrap mountain waists,
The rock terrace flies in space
   distant, a narrow path. 
Leaning on a bramble staff,
   far and free I gaze,
To the warble of valley brook
   I will reply, whistling.

Monday, January 2, 2012

dreading today but looking forward to our tomorrows

I have this whole draft of a New Year's-y post on deck, but no time to finish it up, so here's a quicky.  For me, winter break is over today.  Actually, after the three minutes it takes me to type up this post and get all my winter gear on, I will be speeding out the door to ready my classroom for children once again.  Yes, that's right, I am having to get to school at about 6 a.m. after the wonderful workers who carpeted my classroom over break pretty much dumped everything back in the room after they completed their task.  I am lucky I popped into school to survey the damage yesterday and wasn't caught completely off guard 30 minutes before students arrive!  So...I am dreading today.  Not only because others made a mess of my relatively organized life, or because the kids are going to be crazy, or because I have to step back into this stressful school year today, but also because I realize that school isn't even close to over yet and I have to watch my best teacher friend grow her pregnant belly for the rest of the year.  I am in a good place, I really am, but this is just not going to be fun.  I love her dearly and could not say enough good things about her, but it will still be difficult.  Wishing school was over already!