Putting one foot in front of the other during infertility
No, I wasn't quitting my job or even waiting to be let go. A business trip was planned for the management team to travel to Mont Tremblant and I was included. The CEO of the company for which I worked owned a home where he hosted us each year. The excursion had been booked for several weeks; we were going to do some team building and hold strategy meetings in between luxuriating at the spa and/or skiing. We were due to take off in 2 short days but I learned the day before from my OB/GYN that my 14-week-unborn baby would likely not survive. This was going to be my/our second loss. I needed to tell my boss that I wouldn't be able to make the trip.
My plan was to walk into his office, sit down, make small talk, let him know that I was dealing with an unforeseen family matter, apologize for having to pull out of the trip at the last minute and end by offering to reimburse him for my travel expenses. Keep calm and carry on was to be my mantra on that day. I was confident that I could/would stick to my script. I’ve encountered numerous pivot-worthy scenarios during my career as a salesperson. For example, I’ve had clients begin conversations by firing my agency/technology (and by association me) only to have them end with allocating additional budget to test a new product. Given my history of turning bad news into good, I believed that I could act in the third person and convey my message in a calm and rational manner.
The CEO was a very generous yet quirky person; he could be tricky to navigate, at times. This annual trip was extremely important to him.
On more than one occasion, I had observed him, losing his temper. Seemingly minor infractions could provoke him and without much warning. His volcanic reactions could erupt spontaneously in what had moments before been a casual and kind conversation.
Later that afternoon, I noticed my boss was alone in his office. I politely/quietly knocked on his door and asked, "May I have a moment?" He casually waved me in and said with a smile, “What’s up?” I sat down, took a deep breath and that’s when the unthinkable happened. Upon exhale I hastily blurted, “I am really sorry but I can’t go to Mont-Tremblant this weekend. I just found out that I will probably miscarry but I am not sure when it may happen!”
Oh don’t worry, it gets worse…
As I was making the declaration, I burst into a guttural sob that started in my throat but quickly moved throughout my whole body. Who in the World knows what he, the man who held the keys to my career—at least during my tenure at his company, could comprehend from the gibberish falling out of mouth. I was having a difficult time catching my breath much less controlling my facial gestures. I grasped onto the chair and stared into my lap.
(Why are you holding you hands over your ears and closing one eye? Oh, because you are extremely mortified for me? Yes, I understand. As I recall this moment in time, I really wish I could erase it but alas I cannot.)
Finally, when I was able to gather some semblance of control over my emotions/body, I looked up at him through blurry eyes. Shockingly, he looked very serene and casually said, “Well, congratulations on getting pregnant!” I let out sort of a snort/laugh while I used the back of my hand to try to whisk away the tears and mucus that were on/around my face.
He was aware of our previous loss given it happened while I was working for him when it occurred. During our therapy session/meeting, he shared that he and his wife had also suffered through losses and he empathized completely. I was very surprised by his candor and compassion. I was having a tough time reconciling the fact that the man sitting in front of me could have ever been his alter ego.
The only thing that I recall going according to plan during that conversation was that I offered to reimburse him for my travel. He told me not to worry about it then abruptly stood up and simply said, “Thanks!” I took his lead and said the same to him.
As I jetted out of his office, a shiver traveled down my spine because let’s be honest, that exchange was beyond awkward. I was mortified, to say the least. On the other hand, I appreciated that this powerful and intimidating man had chosen to offer kindness in lieu of impatience and ambivalence.
That weekend I waited for the inevitable to happen but it never did. Our baby’s heartbeat finally stopped a week later. My doctor was hoping I would miscarry on my own to avoid surgery. In doing so, I came down with what they believed was Sepsis. I was admitted into the hospital and had an emergency D&C while being given loads and loads of IV antibiotics.
Why am I sharing this story? One of the trickiest things about struggling to have a family is putting one foot in front of the other while we try to carry on with our daily lives. Our minds and spirits become enormously frayed while we are tasked with holding down a job, nurturing a partnership/marriage, running a household, keeping up with our friends and maybe even raising other children. Personally, I found it nearly impossible to keep going while I was facing the very real possibility that I may never get to be a mother. Getting dressed and even brushing my teeth felt more like working out. Infertility is scary as hell.
Lean on your loved ones for support. People will surprise you; they may even have more patience and tolerance than you ever thought possible.