For 3+ very long years my reality was filled with the sharp pangs that cut deep through when I saw a round belly on a glowing women walking past me, or when a FB friend made yet another pregnancy announcement, or as I watched as my younger sister had not one, but two kids- and we still had none.
There is healing, undoubtedly, that has come to all of that darkness because of this pregnancy. But the emotions, the scars, are still close enough to the surface that I know I will never forget the journey it took to get here.
But I am also very aware of that fact that I have become "that" woman. I am, to the many women (and couples) still walking the long uncertain journey of TTC, I am "that" woman. That woman with the pregnant belly walking down the street, announcing a pregnancy on FB, and joining the "club" of motherhood.
I carry this awareness with me all the time- I am careful as to when and where I rub my belly in public places, I frequently scan the room when in groups of people- assessing how many in the room are of the age/place in life that they might be dealing with IF, and I have made a point to not go public with my pregnancy on FB.
But I am still "that" woman.
Last week I had a meeting- with a group of fellow board members that I meet with quarterly. At the last meeting I wasn't showing enough that it was obvious and I didn't make a public announcement. Overtime I shared the news one on one with many of the board members. One in particular, we'll call her Anne, is becoming a good friend of mine. We have actually bonded over the last couple of years over talk of TTC as she has been pretty open with me and others of a miscarriage she had last year. And she has just started to dip her toes in the waters of Fertility Specialists and testing. She knew early on that I was pregnant, and I have made a point to be as sensitive as possible with her and around the topic. But I forgot, until this recent meeting, that many of the board members still didn't know my news. And when I walked into the meeting room, as coffee and doughnuts were being had, there was a collective gasp and a very exuberant mob of people that surrounded me literally at the entrance to the board meeting. They reveled in my belly, and my supposed "glow", and asked all of the typical questions. "Do you know the gender? when are you due? how are you feeling? OMG, I had no idea!! Congrats Congrats, I am so excited for you" Etc. Etc.
And I will be honest that there was part of me that absolutely loved every second of it. It is in my opinion one of the rites of passage of pregnancy, and one in which I had so looked for to for so long. It is absolutely beyond comprehension to me of how much joy other people feel for this child in the making, that they have not even met yet, and how much I feel loved by the community in my life as they celebrate this with me.
But the part of me that will forever be an infertile was also very much aware of Anne's presence. She was just off to the side in the meeting room. Watching this scene unfold from a distance. And while I don't know for sure what she was thinking or feeling, having been in her shoes, I can only guess. And as much as I was loving every minute of it- a huge part of me wanted slink away and protect her from the hurt. Being "that" women that even unintentionally is a source of pain for those still in the trenches tugs mightily at my heart.
DH made a point of saying early in this pregnancy that as much as he understood my wanting to be sensitive to not boasting or parading this pregnancy in front of others, he also didn't want that to take away from the joy and celebration that this new life deserves. This long awaited, long prayed for, long fought for life. And I agree with him on that side of the argument as well.
Finding that balance and embracing both is tough.
I took this picture a few weeks back. I think that it is so telling of this dual reality we live when pregnancy occurs after infertility. When we started going through IVF I decided I needed to create a space to keep all (ALL!) of the swabs, needles, meds, and other paraphernalia. I emptied out a space on my bookshelf. and there we set up shop every night as DH gave me my shots. Over time, as we watched IVF turn into pregnancy, turn into the third trimester, that same shelf has accumulated new stuff- books on pregnancy, giving birth, breastfeeding, binder from my midwife, etc. And I am struck by the irony of this shared space on the shelf. BOTH are my reality. and BOTH are part of my identity.