So Monday I started a new job…I’m making a conscious effort to decrease my stress for our next cycle and working full-time in an insanely busy, understaffed intensive care unit in a teaching hospital in a local city was simply way too stressful. So, I left the bedside and took a position as a nursing supervisor in the small community hospital in the town we live in. But taking a new job means I’m meeting a whole new hospital of co-workers…none who know about our infertility…and all who want to know about my life. I find myself questioning how much to share…our infertility and loss is a huge part of who I am…but one doesn’t lead with that when meeting knew people. (Of course if I was fertile and had children, or 9 months pregnant with our Warrior no one would think twice about me leading with the discussion of babies….) So I smile and say I live with my husband in town, I shake my head ‘no’ when asked if I have children, I sometimes continue “we hope to soon” and I smile and listen as they list off the number of children they have, their ages…and then smiled and gushed over every adorable Halloween snapshot on their phone.
And that was fine. Kids in Halloween costumes are adorable. I like listening to these new co-workers discuss their children. I want to get to know people.
But…then a co-worker who I found myself spending a lot of time with kept talking about babies…her child, friends children, fertility…it was as if every discussion we had came back to children…and it was making me a little crazy. So at one point she mentioned taking Co-Q10 and I casually said “Oh, I take that too.” She asked why I take it (she takes it for cardiac purposes) and I, as casual as I could replied “Oh, my fertility doctor recommended it.” There it was on the table…my fertility doctor…AKA: ‘Hi! infertile over here, tread lightly with the baby talk please.’ Her reaction was minimal…she didn’t ask for information, she just smiled (that soft, sympathetic smile you get when you identify yourself as infertile) and said she didn’t know it assisted with fertility and continued on. She didn’t ask for details and I didn’t offer any. I don’t think my infertility affected her much. And I appreciated her so much for that. She didn’t pretend to understand me (she already told me she was basically a Fertile Myrtle), she didn’t offer unsolicited advice (we all know those people) she didn’t pry when I clearly wasn’t interested in sharing more information. She was respectful and kind. AND she cooled it on the baby talk…
I wish I had thought to thank her for her response. In the moment it seemed so simple, but thinking about it as I write this post I realize how much I appreciated the way she reacted. It is so rare to have people just respond so appropriately! I wish I could write a book on the way people have responded to our infertility and miscarriage. The good (this woman’s simple kindness or the co-worker who gifted me an African Fertility Doll after hearing of our struggles and wrote a sweet note that said “I’m so on this journey with you…”), the bad (the people who told me ‘at least you know you can get pregnant’ after our miscarriage or the friend who said ‘it took me 6 months before I got pregnant!) and the ugly (the boss who asked me why I needed to go home when I started miscarrying at work “I know people who have had miscarriages, it’s not that painful.”) The truth is, more often than not people get it wrong, I failed to recognize how nice it is when someone, very simply, get it right.
Because of this woman’s reaction I feel more confident sharing our infertility with other co-workers when the opportunity arises. I’m not naïve, I know some people will react in ways that hurt me, but I can also appreciate now that some people won’t. Putting yourself out there to new people (in every aspect, not simply with infertility) is scary and overwhelming, but it can also be rewarding and inspiring. Who knew a simply comment about Co-Q10 could do so much! (which is nice, because I don’t actually think its helping my fertility at all!)