The Fading Pain

X received a birthday card from S's aunt. This birthday card came in the same envelope with another birthday card.

S was confused for a minute, and turned to me kind of laughing. At first, I think he thought his aunt got Baby Z's birth date wrong.  Staring at the envelope with the name on it, it took a few seconds to sink in.

"Happy Birthday Axton."

Now, the realization that said aunt is totally clueless about our family could have hit me like a ton of bricks, but it didn't. Brick, by brick by brick, little by little I broke down.

1st reaction: You've gotta be kidding me.

2nd reaction: Is she that stupid?

3rd reaction: I need to sit down on the bed for a minute and then I can join the rest of the family for dinner.

4th reaction: Sobbing at the dinner table.

I was surprised at how hard it hit me, considering that I really don't think about Axton much. Every now and then, I come across pictures that I can't seem to delete from my computer and I wonder what he's like. At this point, 3 years removed from the failed placement, the acute pain has faded, yet, I can still be brought back to the phone call I received right after snuggling down in the couch for some kangaroo care and guilty pleasure TV on my first day of maternity leave.

It's like that for infertility too. When in the grips of infuriating cycles resulting in BFNs; invasive testing; invasive homestudies; long adoption waits; failed placement; failed match; it seems like nothing will ever feel the same again. It feels like the pain will haunt forever. Except that it doesn't. I wonder if everyone going through this experiences the same trajectory. It's just not at the forefront of my mind, and pregnant women elicit more of a 'gee they're lucky' response instead of the 'that fucking bitch has no idea how lucky she is response' I used to have. 

The biggest issue I have right now is wondering if I might magically get pregnant when I don't want to (S is a big fat chicken who won't make his appointment). I obsessively track my cycles hoping for a period to show up, and I don't think about infertility much....is what I was going to say until I realized that hoping for a period every month is an indication that I still have, and will always have emotional issues related to infertility until I hit menopause full bore. Obviously, I need to push S again on his OUTPATIENTNOBIGDEAL procedure because I'm afraid to get busy around ovulation. I haven't wanted to get pregnant after adoption, and even explored the idea, going so far as another R.E. consultation during our wait for Baby Z. Suffice to say, I have been deep into my own psyche trying to figure out if I really needed to be pregnant, but as I said when I first decided on adoption as a option, I wanted to be a parent more than I wanted to push a kid out. Funny how that now translates to the idea of a positive pregnancy test being the worst news ever. I'm 42, and have been off of birth control for almost 10 years at this point, never saw a positive pregnancy test and perhaps had one chemical pregnancy. Chances are slim to none that I'll ever get pregnant, but I still have a weird what if knocking around my head.

Since infertility I've also pushed my body harder than ever by participating in 100-mile bike rides, and most recently joining a gym that pushes me to the edge every single workout. It's like I do these things to remind myself that body still works despite not ever working in the most basic of ways.

The pain fades, but it never goes away.