I realized a couple of years ago that I have infertility-induced entitlement. We had just moved into our rental house and there was a problem with the kitchen plumbing that affected the sink and dishwasher. I was still living in a state of high anxiety due to the previous years of traumatic infertility and failed fertility treatments, and I was SO MAD about the plumbing problem. The plumbing *was* a problem and the maintenance guy *was* slow to fix it (and eventually it *was* repaired), but I still think my anger was disproportionate to the problem. My best friend gently pointed that fact out to me and that's when I realized I was subconsciously thinking: I've already lost my children. Everything else for the rest of my life should be easy.
But that's not life. That's not reality. There will always be difficulties and challenges.
So since that realization, I have tried to remain conscious of it. I try to be patient with my problems and patient with myself. With each passing year, my anxiety decreases a bit and that helps overall as well.
But I still notice it. I still notice my infertility-induced entitlement.
You already know this if you've been following along, but my current irritation is school. It is taking everything I have to finish up my coursework with my less-than-understanding, unprofessional professors. A couple of weeks ago I was accused of cheating on a test. I have never been accused of cheating on anything. Additionally, I have never cheated on a test. I'd much rather fail something honestly than cheat. Part of that is fear of being caught, but a bigger part of it is plain old integrity. I may be a lot of things, but I am NOT a cheater.
I got so angry. I was also extremely worried. Cheating is a big accusation, and it could've gotten me kicked out of the program. As I waited to talk to the professor that accused me, I texted my husband freaking out. He is usually a very patient person, but even he is down to his last straw with my program. He reassured me that we would get through whatever happened, that we were still moving forward with our plan. He encouraged me to stay calm and professional and handle the situation. But all I could think was: Seriously?? I've already lost my children and now I may be kicked out of a program that I have spent 3 years and a good chunk of change on. With nothing to show for it all? Again?? I noticed the entitlement I was feeling and took a couple of slow, deep breaths to prepare for meeting with the professor. The good news is it was all a big misunderstanding, she knows I didn't cheat, and nothing became of the situation. After an extremely stressful couple of hours, it was over and done. Gahhh this school...
As if I needed more evidence about the terribleness of this program... Remember my pregnant classmate? Well, I knew her due date was coming up and that she would be having her baby pretty soon. I didn't realize how soon. She came to class last week to take a quiz, a quiz that she would not have been able to make up had she missed it, and get this. She was in early labor!!! What. I ran into her in the bathroom and she was talking to another classmate about it. She said her contractions were about 15 to 20 minutes apart. I jokingly said, "Well, wait to have a contraction before you start the quiz (we only had ten minutes to take the timed quiz on the computer), and then hopefully you will get through it without a contraction." But I added, "In all seriousness, if you need anything, you know you have 39 classmates willing to do whatever you need." She came to school to take a stupid quiz while in early labor. Un-freaking-believable. I don't fault her at all. It's the climate this program creates. She felt she couldn't afford to miss it. Then after the quiz she went straight to the hospital. I'm still in shock over the situation.
The good news is she had the baby without complications, and she and her baby are healthy and doing well. The bad news (for me) is this is all I'm going to be hearing about for the rest of the semester. Every professor begins class asking about the baby and I often overhear classmates talking about it. I know it is good practice as I am re-entering the real world, but it doesn't mean it's easy for me.
The worst was last Wednesday. We were sitting in class about to go over a test we had taken. I assumed the professor was going to use the document camera to project the test questions onto the large presentation screen in the classroom. I looked up and, what was on the screen? Not the test. A picture of my classmate's newborn. Newborn pictures are the hardest for me. One of my best friends from high school had a baby two weeks ago and, while I am very happy for her, looking at pictures of her with her newborn is painful for me. And there I was, in class, just staring at this huge picture of another newborn. I quickly looked down and thought, okay, it's fine, this is normal. People want to see the baby. It won't be up there long. I will continue to keep my eyes on the page in front of me and soon we will go over the test. We began going over the test. I only had my answer sheet in front of me, not the questions, so I looked back up to see the test questions. But there were no test questions being projected, just the same newborn picture staring back at me. I quickly looked back down again. Surely the picture won't be up there for the duration of the class I thought to myself. A few minutes passed, nothing changed, and so I got up to leave the room. I told my friend sitting next to me that he could check my test for me if he wanted to but I wasn't staying. Then I left. I went and sat in the hallway, wondering if I was going to be there the whole class time. After about thirty minutes, a classmate came out of the room to go to the bathroom. I asked if they were done going over the test and she said yes. I asked if the baby picture was still up on the big screen. She seemed confused but said no. So I decided to go back in for the last fifteen minutes of class. I walked in and there were two of my friends going over my test for me, seeing which answers I got correct and which ones I got wrong. They knew why I left, but neither one of them said anything. They just smiled and said, "You only missed three!" Then the professor began lecturing and nothing was said to me about the whole thing. Thank God for my friends.
So yeah, I wish I wasn't still dealing with difficult moments. I've already been through so much. I don't want to go through anything else ever again. But I know that's not how life works. Just because I've endured one traumatic period in my life, that doesn't mean I won't have to deal with other traumatic episodes or even minor irritations.
At least, although I kind of hate saying "at least" but still, at least my surviving infertility gave me coping skills and perspective. When irritations arise I remind myself, "I will get through this." When bad things happen, I tell myself, "This isn't the worst thing in the world." Life goes on.