Yesterday, a colleague who had been off on maternity leave returned to work at our office. I'll call her Jill. While Jill and I never worked together directly in the past, she'd been in the same department with a few of my closer friends. As a result, we ended up socializing a little before she had her baby. She was one of those people that, because she was friends with my friends, I felt like I should have been closer with her, but we just never spent any one-on-one time together so it never happened.
When I learned that Jill would be coming to work in my department upon her return, I had mixed feelings about it. I looked forward to the opportunity to work with her and get to know her better. But I also feared that I'd find it hard to be around her. After all, she's a new mom who would undoubtedly be plastering her desk (mere feet from mine) with pictures of her year-old daughter and talking incessantly about how hard it was to be coming back to work and leaving her baby behind. I really wasn't looking forward to this added reminder of my infertility in the same office with me, all day, every day.
When she arrived yesterday I spent some time showing her around, and talk inevitably turned to her daughter. In an attempt to be polite I asked whether they'd had a hard time finding child care, since I'd heard that you have to put your child's name on a wait list practically as soon as you see that second line on the pee stick around here. She agreed and talked about how expensive child care is, saying that she and her husband probably couldn't afford to have another child even if they wanted to. Which, she said, they didn't. They'd had a hard time getting pregnant, she said. They'd had to do IVF.
My jaw dropped. I immediately blurted out that M and I were doing IVF too, and that I'd had an egg retrieval just last Monday. I couldn't believe that none of our common friends had said anything about this to me, even knowing what I was going through. Jill said that they'd kept things very private and didn't really tell anyone at work.
I know that the statistics of infertility are something like 1 in 7 or 1 in 8 couples. But I've never personally known anyone else who has gone through it...or if they have, I didn't know about it. And now, an IF success story is sitting not ten feet from me in my office. And not just any IVF success story.
She had ten eggs retrieved. Three fertilized. By day 3 they had one embryo left to transfer. ONE.
Our male co-workers were on their way back into the office so I didn't get the full story. We ended up having this crazy hurried disjointed half-whispered conversation, the jist of which was that it's so hard and no one understands and we have to go for coffee and talk about it and I only have one embryo too and don't give up it can work with just one embryo and OMG we have to go for coffee and talk about it!
Now, I'm not one of those people who believes that "everything happens for a reason". I'm not a religious person and I don't think there's one overarching plan for everyone. But every once in a while, something happens and you just feel like it's the universe smacking you in the face trying to send you a message. This was one of those times. Except the problem is, I can't figure out the message! I'd love to think it's, "Hey, it happened for Jill in extremely similar circumstances, so don't give up hope!" But then my pessimistic side takes over and all I can think is that statistically, someone has to succeed and someone has to fail, so what are the chances that two of us in the same office are going to beat the odds? I know it's totally stupid to think that somehow her success has now doomed me to failure, but there it is.
Either way, I'm incredibly happy to have found someone else in real life that I can talk to about this. All the fear, the doubt, the sadness, the depression...she gets it. And I can only hope that her knowing about my infertility will temper a little bit of the baby talk around the office, since she really doesn't seem to have turned into one of those smug former infertiles who is out of the trenches and has totally forgotten the battle. It's clear that she still feels her scars.