I'm here, but I'm quiet. I've gone overnight from a woman who can't stop talking to one who can't stop shutting up.
Part of it is that I don't know what to say.
This pregnancy is new enough and precarious enough that it isn't funny yet. I hardly dare to think about it yet, much less make fun of it. I do think about it, in an unintentional daydreamy way, but when I realize I'm doing it I feel a surge of panic, as if suddenly realizing I've done something wrong. (See also: Leaving Chinese porno on my mother's kitchen counter overnight. But I swear there was a perfectly good explanation. It wasn't mine. I swear.)
While I don't have much to laugh about, I know I also have nothing to complain about. When articulate bitching is your stock in trade, what's there to say once you get what you want? Not much. You just sit still, biding your time, afraid to accept your good fortune but not so foolhardy as to question it aloud.
Another part of why I'm quiet is that I don't know how I feel.
It feels churlish to admit this even to myself. I almost can't believe I'm confessing it here, in the face of my friends who would be only too thrilled to be in my position. I'm ashamed of what looks a lot like ingratitude. But the truth, which I occasionally try to tell, is this: I am not as happy as I expected to be.
I've worked and waited. I've wanted this for so long. (It's the baby I truly want, but I am told by reliable sources that those are usually preceded by a pregnancy, so, sure, we'll say I wanted that, too.) So why can't I get happy?
It's the wearing nature of anxiety, which exists at such a constant level that it mutes all other emotions. It's not just the fear of another loss, although that looms large and frequently spikes to stratospheric heights. There's also the deeply ingrained mistrust of my body that doesn't quite allow me to believe I'll manage pregnancy and delivery without mishap. There's the apprehension inherent in facing something new I don't even know how to be pregnant, to say nothing of how to raise a child into a likeable, happy person who's kind to weaker creatures and votes against the Republican party. And there's the chilling awareness that our lives may soon change dramatically, forever, in the good ways we've hoped for but also in bad ways we can't foresee.
Oh, yeah, hey, have I mentioned the ambivalence?
Those feelings are background, a constant white noise that becomes so familiar it starts to feel like stillness. Beneath it all I know I am happy, somewhere; I know this because I do catch myself dreaming now and then. I just can't easily access the joy I expected to bubble up unbidden.
Finally, I'm quiet because I don't know where I belong.
Since I started treatment I've been that oxymoronic anomaly, a fertile infertile. I've gotten pregnant now after three out of four IVFs. Without a baby to show for it, though, I could still commiserate with women who'd racked up negative after negative; although I hadn't had their kind of disappointments, I'd had my own, and I felt we understood each other.
At the moment I'm uncomfortably aware that a pregnancy sets me apart from the people I care about. I feel your pain because I love you, and because until, oh, two weeks ago, it's been my pain, too, the same agony I've felt for the better part of three years of treatment. But I've been granted a reprieve from the sadness that many of you still face on a relentless daily basis. It's a welcome reprieve, to be sure, but one that makes me uneasy, too. How can I sympathize now without awkwardness? How can I tell my infertile friends, "I know what it's like and I'm sorry," when you could fairly answer, "What you know isn't true anymore"?
I feel out of step with most of my friends. I want to be clear about this: I don't feel guilty, and I don't feel unworthy. But I do feel lonely (excellent company notwithstanding). I've gotten such comfort and pleasure out of experiencing infertility with you that I desperately wish we could all be simultaneously going through the resolution to it together, too.
So if I'm not in synch with my barren pals, where do I fit? I'm pregnant enough to feel like a sudden outsider among the infertile. But I'm also experienced enough to feel deeply reluctant to join a cheerful group of optimists at a similar stage, comparing symptoms and ultrasound measurements.
I am somewhere in between. I'm quiet. I'm still. But still here.