Wednesday, September 1, 2010

When confronted with pregnancy

I want to first say thank you to all of you for reading and responding to my two last posts. The intersection of IRL and blogland worlds is a funny one, and I appreciate the respect and compassion with which you allowed me to puzzle over this issue. I don't think it is settled for me, and maybe it isn't for you either. Sharing our blogs with IRL friends is not something that everyone feels comfortable with. The reason why I chose to share it with a few of my IRL friends is that I am not always able to tell them how I feel. Sharing my blog was my attempt at being more open with them. I am also aware that some of you may not agree that this is a good idea. And that's ok. We all do what works for us. We use our blogs in ways that can benefit our difficult process with infertility. I hope you can respect my way of doing things.

I went to a job interview yesterday. The job is a one-year maternity leave coverage. I even took a picture of how fabulous I looked in my suit, new blouse and matching bag, but the pictures turned out lousy. I didn't have the right shoes to go with the outfit, which is probably a reason why I won't get the job, but the rest of the outfit looked alright. Mr. August teased me about obsessing over the shoes. I guess it was a safer thing to obsess about than my inadequacies, so I focused on them. I laugh at how I do this, since I am not very appearance focused (I barely wear any makeup, my hair style is low maintenance).

So, let me tell you about anticipating this darn interview. I was convinced that the psychologist who is going on mat leave would be interviewing me, along with a selection of other psychologists who work at that agency. I'm sure you can appreciate the freak out I was having about the prospect of being interviewed by a pregnant woman. My strategy was going to be to not look at anything below her chin. To my surprise, she did not interview me. I didn't even get to meet her.

The interview was pretty stressful. I nailed the first question, but some of my answers after that were weaker. I can only hope for the primacy effect of the interviewers' memory functions, where they will remember more vividly what I said first as opposed to what I said in the middle or last. The interviewers were 2 ladies from HR, and no psychologists were involved, which I found strange. After over an hour of answering their 7 questions with as much depth, specificity and illustration as I could muster, I then had to do the written part of the interview. This involved sitting in a room by myself for 30 minutes (not a second more) and answering two questions which would have taken me 60 minutes to answer decently and 90 minutes to answer well. I was pretty exhausted when I left, and was very tempted to be hard on myself.

But I stopped that 'hard on myself' momentum right in its tracks. I've been working super hard (with the help one amazing therapist) on letting the stronger, wiser part of me take care of the younger, terrified part of me. And there was a golden opportunity to show myself that I was there for me. As hard as it was to really get behind this idea, I HAD done the best that I could with the interview. I had prepared well, I took all the steps necessary to be successful, and I had promised myself that no matter what, I would leave there with my dignity intact. And I did.

I went to an interview in early June and it did not go very well. It wasn't catastrophic, but it resulted in me promising myself to not apply for a job until I had finished writing my thesis. You are wondering if this means I am finished writing my these?! No. Sadly, I am not done yet. But progressing. I just had this job opportunity fall on my lap and it was too good to turn away. But I worried about feeling less than confident and having that come through in the interview. I think that I didn't appear as confident as I would have liked, but I showed more confidence than I feel most days.

After the interview, I went to visit a friend from residency. This friend is pregnant, of course. It was nice to see her, even with all the pregnancy and baby talk. I knew she would prod me about Mr. August and I's time line for having kids and I was prepared to tell her that I am infertile. I knew she wouldn't handle it very well, but also wouldn't handle it horribly. Because three of the women from internship are pregnant right now, my friend said she was taking bets with others on who was next. She put her money on me. HA! HA! HA! Very funny! Then I told her I was infertile and then she said we could adopt. What else was she going to say? I didn't get my underwear in a bunch about it. I just thought, how else can she handle this? How else are we supposed to negotiate celebrating the joy of her pregnancy and the grief of my loss? We just kept licking our ice cream and switched topics.

Looking back on yesterday, I feel like I handled myself well overall. I did the best I could. So did everyone else I encountered, including my pregnant friend. We are all doing the best that we can. Here is a poem by Anne Hillman about this very topic:

We look with uncertainty
Beyond the old choices for
Clear-cut answers
To a softer, more permeable aliveness
Which is every moment
At the brink of death;
For something new is being born in us
If we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
Awaiting that which comes...
Daring to be human creatures.
Vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.


  1. Good luck on your interview! And finishing up your thesis too, what a bear that must be while undergoing IF. You should be very proud of yourself!

  2. I wholeheartedly admire anyone who can make it through an interview. I've had exactly one in my life (because academic job talks and visits are so totally different and therefore don't count) and it was a monstrous disaster. So that alone impresses me. I'm with the stronger, wiser part of you. Those are some of the same things I tell myself--if you've done everything you could to prepare, then you've done your best, and that's all you can do. And hey, not everyone is looking for someone incredibly confident! In short, GO YOU! for doing this, and I hope you get a nice validating offer soon!

  3. That's a lovely poem. And I agree. You did the best you could and that is all anyone can ask of oneself. Being hard on oneself is so darned easy, but it's useless. And it sounds like you had a strong interview. I subscribe to the idea that those things always feel slightly worse than they were. (Though, this could be my own denial talking:)

    I also think that sometimes opportunities cross your path and, really, the only thing you can do is take them. It sounds like you're farther along with your thesis where you were, and it's not a bad thing to occasionally get your feet wet in the great beyond. I will cross fingers that you get an offer.

    And your friend. Sigh. It sounds like you handled it well and, yeah, in that moment, it's probably the only thing she found to say. In a way, it's good that you talked about it when you did, got it out of the way. But, oh, how I hate those moments.

  4. I'm willing to bet that you made a better impression than you thought at the interview. We are always so hard on ourselves and interviews are such forced and fake environments so all of that has to be taken into consideration by the interviewers for sure.
    Oh and I admire the way you handled your friends comment about adoption. You're right, she was probably just as anxious as you about saying the wrong thing and having never lived in your shoes it's probably unimaginable to her that those words could be offensive. I do wish that friends would just offer compassion and just say 'sorry to hear of your news' rather than feeling they had to offer solutions though. Seriously, we are living this life, if there were a solution we were happy with we would have found it by now.

  5. I like that poem, I am always looking for the clear cut answers and at 40 finally starting to understand that they don't exist or once they do they are likely to change. I think you're visit sounds like it went well, you have a good perspective on it. Hoping you get a job offer soon!