Monday, June 22, 2009

I'm Only Human

When he told me his wife was pregnant the first thought that came to my mind was the thought that always comes to my mind in these situations, “It will be OK. You will be able to survive the showers, cards, and birth because by the time that baby is born you will be pregnant.” At the time my first IVF cycle had just been cancelled. I was bruised, but not beaten. I was still full of hope.

There has been one other pregnancy in my group, but I was insulated by a supervisor. I did not need to arrange a temp for maternity leave. I was not in charge of preparing a baby shower. I could be a bystander. This time I could not. This was one of my direct reports.

I have always found comfort in work. Sure there have been days I have not been as engaged as I otherwise would have been. There have been days that I have not added much value. But generally work is a refuge, a reason to get dressed each day. Work keeps me busy. Work helps me think about something other than my infertility. But this time it wasn’t so.

It was the Monday morning after my third IVF cycle was cancelled, the cycle where I made it to retrieval, but failed to make viable embryos. He came to tell me that he needed to have the following week off because his wife was to be induced. I couldn’t even fake excitement for him. I listened, marked it in my calendar, and nonverbally made it clear that I didn’t want more details. I felt badly that I couldn’t mirror his excitement, but I was just trying to hold it together.

A week earlier I had received my annual performance review. Surprisingly I had been given good marks, except in one area. I am to work on having a more positive image with my team. I am to be more accessible to them. I am to be more empathetic and caring. All good things, all things I agree with, and all things that seem impossible to do right now when I really just want to be left alone.

He was my first test after my performance review and I failed. I did not arrange a baby shower (Even though this is his second child, my office is very into celebrating life events). I did not arrange a card to send around to be signed by the team. I did not ask him to update me when the baby was born which led to a painful week of people stopping by my desk asking, “Do we have a baby?” to which I responded, “I don’t know.”

Yesterday I tried to absolve myself of my sins. I purchased a card and a generous gift. Reading the cards I almost started crying and found myself wishing that they made baby cards that were blank inside. My gift came in certificate form because I couldn’t face the little clothes and baby accessories. I’m only human after all…

28 comments:

sprogblogger said...

I think you did more than most people in your situation would have been capable of. You do what you can, and you trust that others will give you the benefit of the doubt when you're not living up to your own (or their) standards of courtesy. Sometimes there are no good words. Thinking of you.

areyoukiddingme said...

It's a difficult situation. That's the thing I hate about work - on one hand, you're supposed to be professional at all times. On the other hand, you spend more time with these people than any others in your life, and emotional issues become a huge minefield. You can't (or don't want to, as the case may be) really be open about your struggles without appearing unprofessional, but you are expected to celebrate personal milestones like you're a family.

Anyway, congratulations for being brave. Gift cards are the gift of choice for most people anyway.

Infertility is Hard said...

I'm sorry for your pain. These types of events are almost unbearable for people like us struggling to have a child. . . to feel what it's like to have that kind of excitement in our lives. Thinking of you.

Betty Rubble said...

I find it ironic that YOU need to be more empathetic...where is the empathy FOR YOU?

Ugh...

B. said...

Oh, Megan, I'm sorry you had to deal with all that. It's all a balancing act, and it's hard to maintain composure while trying to be the people we were when we were blissfully ignorant of our IF. And I personally hate the fact that people at work will think differently about me because of how I'm acting as an infertile, when none of them have a clue what we're delaing with on a daily basis.

Anyhow, I find you to be extremely empathetic. And I'm cheering for you.

Be well!
B.

TTC Little Miracle said...

You did more than I would have. I wouldn't worry too much about the work performance review. As Betty Rubble said, "where is the empathy for you?" As long as you're doing your job they will keep you around.

the misfit said...

It's totally fair of them to expect you to have empathy for your team, but not where your own circumstances make that difficult or impossible. If this company is into supervisory empathy, it seems like it should be possible for someone else (your supervisor?) to handle throwing baby showers and making pregnancy announcements. (Maybe there's even a gal on your team who explodes at the seams with all the excitement and would volunteer? The secretaries at my old firm spontaneously threw parties for every conceivable occasion because they were just that darn excited.) It would be better for everyone if the designated excited person were REALLY excited, and not just required to be excited by reason of job responsibilities. And better for you if you had room to grieve. Surely your enlightened employer should understand that?!

Queenie. . . said...

Are you really supposed to be more supportive and empathetic about personal issues, rather than work issues? That's a bit much to expect from anyone, given that you have no way of knowing how the person in front of you feels (unless he tells you). I don't think you failed. I think you were professional, and did what you could. And seriously, you got the card and the gift--sure signs of support, if I ever saw them! (What is that saying? Fake it until you make it?)

I'm sorry you found yourself in that position, and I hope it doesn't happen again any time soon.

Shinejil said...

I totally and wholeheartedly second the misfit's emotion. There has to be a way to relieve you of this onerous, and frankly downright cruel task of giving a shit about something that is unfortunately agonizing for IF warriors.

You've already done extremely well by giving a nice gift--more than I would expect from a supervisor. It's terrible that you're supposed to put on a command performance, too.

Just me said...

It is very, very, very hard. And even if people know (which, for me, many don't), few understand.

Don't be too hard on yourself. In situations like this I find myself wishing others were more supportive/less judgmental, even if they don't know what is going on. I also use them to remind myself that I don't always know what's going on with others, and to be more supportive/less judgmental.

Hang in there!

Michelle said...

I have this same problem at work. "I don't smile enough" they say. Well maybe it is because everyday I hear another announcement (I work at a huge place) about pregnancy and some days it is just not easy to hear. I think you handled yourself well. Good Luck to you. I hope one day soon it will be you they will be celebrating!

Chelle said...

oh-hun. I am so sorry. Having to deal with IF is hard enough, but when your "safe place" gets taken away, it totally sucks.

((HUGS))

Chelsea Lietz said...

screw it, you're doing the best you can! Human is good thing to be.

Erica said...

What an awful situation to be in Megan. You did the best you could - does your team know about your struggles with IF? Not that it would necessarily make a difference - I sure have met plenty of assholes with not empathy, but who knows? I'm also VERY open with my personal life, almost to a fault, so you might think I'm crazy for even asking if your colleagues know your situation. Because I'm an elementary teacher though, I work with mostly women, and they are almost all very nurturing, so it made it easier for them to know.

Anyway, I'm rambling...buying the baby card and gift is brutal. But again, you did the best you could. Thinking of you.

Melissa G said...

That is just brutal. I hate that we're bombarded by reminders EVERYWHERE. I don't think you were unreasonable by any means, and your gift was incredibly gracious and brave.

Take good care of yourself.

Lou said...

Big hug to you. People at work can sometimes suck the life out of you and they sometimes do it unknowingly. I wouldn't worry about that mark on your annual review. They always want to find ONE thing that you can work on. I've been marked low the past few years on the fact that I show my emotions and it rubs off on the people around me. WTF? I've worked on being perky 24/7, but it's all fake and I hate it. Blah! Anyway - I totally know how you feel. I had a coworker about 3 months ago, 2 months after my ectopic, come to a staff meeting and pass around her ultrasound pic, proudly telling everyone at the STAFF MEETING, that she was pregnant. Yea, I left work early. It sucked. Anyway - hang in there. The card was really great of you. Kill'em with kindness! Take care!

IVF 40+ said...

you are very brave, very honest and I admire you

Kate said...

That's just brutal. It sounds like you coped with the whole thing as well as or better than can be expected. A second baby doesn't need a big baby shower, and if the coworkes wanted to give a gift, one of them could have started a collection/card around. When I used to work in industry, it was inevitably the secretaries who organized stuff like that, not the supervisor. It shouldn't have to be your responsibility - if (God forbid) it happens again before you're happily pregnant, just ask someone else to take on the responsibility, and have done with it.

birdsandsquirrels said...

Oh Megan, I'm sorry. You cannot be expected to handle such a painful thing any other way. I'm guessing that you are not out with IF at work, and I'm not suggesting you tell people, but I'm sure that if they knew, they would understand. You are doing the absolute best you can. I'm sure that you are empathetic and caring with your team in many ways not involving babies.

Misty said...

How can they even talk to you about being more positive. If they only knew what you have to struggle with everyday they would feel like complete asses. You are a very big person to pick up a card and gift certificate for coworker, especially during this time.

Melissa said...

wow, what awesome timing to deal with that. I probably would have started crying at that point. ((HUGS)) life flippin sucks some days.

twoweekwait said...

You are human. Yes. I understand how you feel. *hugs*

eve said...

As I was reading this, I was so hurting for you. It is just EXCRUCIATING to see people get to swim in the sweet waters of pregnancy and parenthood when one cannot partake.

I don't know that I've posted about your last cycle. I'm so very, very sorry that it was cancelled.

I wonder, could you arrange someone else on your team to handle the happy-baby stuff?

Big hugs from the midwest floating up through your screen right now.

Eve (infertilityrocks.wordpress.com)

Bluebird said...

Oh ouch. I'm so sorry. And proud of you for making it through.

IF Optimist, then... said...

Oh honey, I'm so sorry you have to go through any of this. If it helps at all, I'm so very proud of you right now. You are so extraordinary to not only keep it together, but stay mindful of others. Perhaps in the future (if you have to) you can delegate any hard task to an understanding peer. (hugs) -Traci

Lorza said...

I think you did a great job- besides all that for baby #2? puh. Card with gift card is awesome. {{HUGS}}

musicmakermomma said...

You are a strong and good hearted person, to be able to rise above all the pain to be generous to someone who can not possibly appreciate his good fortune like you can. You are my hero.

Eggs said...

God I can relate - my office is literally going through a babyboom. 4 of them my very close friends - 8 babies later I'm still there working with temps...no mat leave for me!

I feel like we're on the same path...unfortunately. I love the way you write...it flows so nicely and sounds so familiar - I find your posts comforting.

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