Sunday, December 02, 2007

Mixed Feelings And All That

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that are expecting. I think it comes with the territory. I'm at that age where most of my friends are married and looking at that time of their life. I work at a company where the average employee age is right about 30. I have lots of cousins approaching their late 30's and feeling the need to rush, and a bunch more in their early- to mid-twenties, where you always just sort of wonder how careful they are being. And I read a surprising number of infertility blogs, considering we've received no such medical diagnosis.

And unlike Julie, in a post I read this afternoon, I don't generally want to hear these things first-hand in person. Unless I know you really well. I think this time in my company's history is a perfect time for me not to work in the main office, but safely in my quiet house away from all that (I know of 3 people expecting in a relatively small office). It's much better to get the IM from someone to the effect of "Guess whose wife is pregnant?", rather than to get blindsided by it in person. I actually dig for that information from all the known office gossips just before I have a scheduled visit back to Austin. That way I have time to get rid of my own baggage in private, so I can be genuinely happy for them. Or at least act like I'm genuinely happy for them. You should see all my scripts and talk to my director about the blocking for them. It's a big production sometimes.

It's easier for me with the people that I know are trying hard, like they somehow deserve it more than other people (congrats, Julie! and T!). I know, I know, life's not fair and things don't always come to the folks that deserve the good things the most. And it's mean of me not to be equally happy for everyone that's expecting. So then I hate myself for being selective with my genuine happiness. Thus, the mixed feelings.

I guess, unless we're really close, let me know electronically, so I have a chance to be mean and hateful or sad and depressed on my own and not inflict that on you and your happy news. In a couple of days I should be good and ready to be (mostly) truly happy for you. I want to be happy for you, so I will do my best to be such.

I'm a long way, today, from seven or eight years ago when my last contact from highschool called to let me know she was expecting. I was very much not in that place at that time, and I'd always considered us very similar (graduated at the top of our class, went to college in technical fields, married the month after graduation, skipped the master's and went straight into software companies). My immediate reaction was "Did you do that on purpose?" I took it back as soon as I said it, and we laugh about it today. Now, if she called to say she was expecting number three, I'd congratulater her and tell her how jealous I am of her stay-at-home-mom life.

A couple years back I had an acquaintance that announced to all her friends that she would have a baby by her anniversary (this was a month or two after the wedding). And, lo and behold, by the 6-month point she was announcing her first trimester was completed and would be having her baby right on schedule. I had trouble being happy for her with the control she seemed to be able to exert over her baby timing. It was never, particularly, a friendship, but all contact pretty much ended after that. I couldn't really even fake happy for her, very well. Again, the self-flagellation is in full swing (Ha!), and I know I'm not a very nice person for it.

And then, recently, I found out about another friend. She has a son with hemophilia (he's almost three and very healthy). She got pregnant again, had the baby tested, found he also had hemophilia and aborted the pregnancy. She's trying again via IVF to test for the gene before transfer. I don't really know how I feel about that course of action (for myself in her shoes, not as any judgement on her handling of that situation). I have cystic fibrosis in my family, so there is the possibility that I could be faced with a similar situation (assuming I'm willing to even test the fetus for the possibility). Deliver a child that I know will have a chronic and life-shortening disease or abort it and live with the "what ifs" for the rest of my life. What if they found a cure? What if the child was able to really live a meaningful life in that short time? What if that was my only chance to be a mother? I guess that makes me selfish, in addition to mean.

So, I'm conflicted. I don't want to be, and I try very hard to be happy for each and every one of you that finds yourself in the position I'd like to find myself in. I'd really appreciate a little tip ahead of the "p" word (sort of like a friend who started out the conversation by saying "You know how I've had the 'flu' for two weeks now?" -- just enough time to get there and prep myself a little before having to hear "pregnant"). That's just my own little need there. Everyone else's is different, I'm sure. But I got married really early, so my wedding invitation didn't cause you any of that "I wonder if I'll *ever* be sending one of these out?" angst. A little sensitivity to let me have my angst in private is all I ask.


Stephanie said...

Thanks for being real. I hope that one day, I can be real too.

Heather said...

Oh, Stephanie, you're one of the most "real" people I know. You shouldn't have to try too hard on that one. :)

Eva said...

Good post. I remember two years ago when I knew 9 pregnant people, mostly at work. I remember my boss sitting me down to tell me she was pregnant and she knew I'd been taking off lots of time for RE visits. Oof. Even though I do have a baby now, it still stings that all my friends are popping up pregnant, having apparently conceived days before their weddings or accidentally.

Heather said...

Eva, Thanks for the comment! Congrats on making it through your "p" word to a beautiful little girl.

Rosa said...

While it is really not the same, I think I can relate to the feeling when all my friends were getting married. Mike and I have been very fortunate with Chris and your post really made me take a step back and count my blessings. Thank you for the perspective.