Tuesday, November 25, 2008

SOS from the Qantas Club

I sit at the bank of computers in the Sydney Qantas Club lounge, throw back a full glass of champagne and focus on the screen. I hope that the civilised people around me don't notice the tears welling in my eyes.

I open my webmail. As it loads I head back to the bar for a refill, walking the back way to avoid my brother Narcissus and his family, who are sitting across the room. It has been a nightmare of a weekend with them and my sanity, previously tacked together with flimsy thread, is rapidly unravelling.

Sitting back at the computer terminal I write an SOS to my best friend in Perth:

>Help. In own private hell. Losing it.
>Self-medicating. Three glasses of champagne. Irony.
>Aphrodite pregnant. I am supposed to be happy for. Three years of trying to get pregnant f**ks with one's head.
>It is supposed to be my turn.

It hurts to see the words on the screen. I rush to the Ladies', lock the door, curl up on the toilet seat and cry.

It is my second episode of uncontrollable tears this weekend.

The other episode happened yesterday.

Sandwiched between a child seat and the window in the back seat of a hire car heading back towards Sydney, my brother takes me by surprise. I am nursing my niece's books, her bag of 'princess stuff', a pink water bottle, a packet of peanut M&Ms and a large hangover from the beach party the night before.

My brother Narcissus is driving, Aphrodite is beside him, and my niece and I are crammed into the back seat with the luggage.

"I am sure you are pregnant Aphrodite," Narcissus announces.

"You are off caffiene and your skin is funny, just the way it was the last time, with Iris."

The unexpectected pregnancy talk grabs me. An icy shiver runs through me and I hold my breath. I hope Narcissus will stop.

But he does not. He launches into a little monologue. Aphrodite beams.

The hire car presses in on me, and my niece's sleeping breath is hot on my neck. I shift uncomfortably in my seat. It is stuffy. I look out the window.

Narcissus' joy spouts forth. He is very excited. He has been desperate to have a second baby. He hopes for a boy. It is just how he planned. He can't wait to have another baby and he will be so tremendously happy.

I tremble. I focus all my energy into doing whatever I can to distract myself from what he is saying.

I look at and label all the cars driving past.

Blue car, yellow van, red 4WD.

C'mon, don't cry.

I look at all the signs and spell them backwards. S-D-L-A-N-O-D-C-M.

C'mon, don't cry.

Narcissus does not notice my quiet distress and continues. He talks about the toys he will buy, the things he will teach the new child. The games they will play. Oh, how wonderful! What fun!

I know I cannot continue to hold it together and eventually decide to have a very hurried 'sleep' where I lean my head towards the window and cover my face with my hands. I cannot stop the tears from rolling down my cheeks. I hope the others don't notice. We are still over a hundred kilometres from Sydney.

Normally when people announce pregnancies it is over dinner or cups of tea or some other time-limited social occassion. I can keep myself together enough to be happy for them for a short time, but then mercifully I can run home afterwards, fall apart, process the news, come to terms with it and move on.

But to be stuck in the middle of it for hours on a claustrophobic road-trip was just too painful. I feel both angry and betrayed by Narcissus and Aphrodite for getting pregnant again: it is MY turn, it is my long term dream. Why do they get given the pregnancy I deserve and have wanted so badly?

The problem with infertility is that it is a process of grief and loss, where over years you are forced to grieve the loss of the family you always felt you were going to have, the baby you want so much. It is a grief from which you cannot heal, because with infertility, every month you have a small hope that pregnancy will happen. It is like having a giant festering wound that just gets ripped open again and again.

Watching friends and family get pregnant, have children and then have them grow into little people during the time you are trying to get pregnant is just torture. You feel jealous and hateful and then even worse because - what sort of monster can't be happy for family and friends during such a special time?

Back at the Qantas Club I have dried my eyes. I return to the computer station and am relieved to see that my best friend has emailed me back.

>Oh love. I'm so sorry. I'll call you when you get home. I love you.
>Keep self-medicating. If you're flying, at least you can keep asking for refills.

Deep breaths. Still another half an hour till we board. I log onto facebook to try to keep my mind off things. Narcissus' new status, uploaded from his laptop gets top billing.

"Narcissus is even happier than before."