Infertility’s Low Grade Exhaustion Due To…

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How does infertility affect us? Let me count the ways …

Sorry, Shakespeare, for mangling your great expression, but as I continue to assess the many different ways that this dreaded condition affects and changes us and our lives, I’ve created a new category: Infertility’s Collateral Damage.  I welcome your examples and contributions.

In a recent exchange with Ellen at Miss E’s Musings she uncovered a positively perfect description for something I’ve been doing involuntarily for years but never had a name for.  Funny how the right word can lead to an epiphany. The word of day: surveillance.  Used in a sentence: I find myself exhausted quite often as a result of the energy used in the constant surveillance of pregnant women and mommies (Momzillas to be more precise).

With the epiphany, I became more conscious of my surveillance behavior. When I arrived later at the office I came smack into contact with a colleague nearly seven months pregnant all belly and smock topped with her second child.  A cavalcade of emotions ensued, morphing from surprise to panic to anger and then to resignation. I was suddenly very aware of her and my next move. She was engaged with another colleague in an animated conversation about something to do with a school board’s indecision and I found myself bristling. There was something about her indignation and how the indecision would adversely affect her children that left me cold. 

I immediately started casing the joint for an escape while at the same time fabricating a comment should I be asked for an opinion — most of them too sarcastic to actually utter aloud.  It became apparent that they were too wrapped up in their conversation to notice me.  I was able to make a clean break.  My getaway complete, I realized how much energy I devote to what should have been a completely innocuous encounter.

I wonder how many pregnant women and Momzillas realize how exhausting just being in there presence can be?

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  • Heh — glad you liked my choice of words. Some days I feel very cold & analytical in my surveillance (“Houston, we’ve got a 6-month bump at 2:00”); other days I am more emotional. It is exhausting at times. I’ve noticed this happens especially frequently at the grocery store — perhaps because I know that when I reach the checkout line, there will be an assortment of tabloid covers plastered with “bump watch” pictures and pregnancy rumors.

  • What a great word for this behavior! I constantly find myself in surveillance mode-at the grocery store, at work, walking in my neighborhood. I feel like I should be part of the Secret Service of something the way I’m always scoping out situations and looking for quick exits! Thanks for putting this into words.

  • Bea

    That’s exactly it! Some days you’re even watching for pregnancy when there isn’t any around. (Woman at 1 o’clock – confirm no visible bump…) That’s probably crossing the line slightly, but things do get pretty anxious at times.

    And if pg-woman has said something vaguely upsetting – breezily assuming it’ll all be ok, or complaining about morning sickness, etc etc – it’s even worse. You’re on hyperalert, just waiting for the next misstep.


  • Hey Pamela, I’ve been a longtime lurker and wanted to say hi. I liked your post so much I wrote about it here”>“>here.

  • This is the perfect word for it. I’m also able to gauge my mental health / fortitude based on my degree of surveillance. For example, when I’m in a bad place, I can spot a pregnant woman from 100 yards away. I glare at her, covet her joy, and generally think mostly bad things, all the while staring a hole through her belly.

    However, when I’m in a moderately good place, I take a different approach. If I think I see a pregnant woman, I avoid looking altogether. I resist the urge to let my curiosity get the better of me, I don’t even confirm if that is actually a maternity top she’s wearing, or just one of those obnoxious empire waisted things that are in style now. I don’t allow myself to make up crazy fantasies about how easy it must have been for her to get pregnant, and how blissfully happy she must be right now. I don’t engage in any of it. I just look away and move on.

    Obviously, that last approach doesn’t work when it’s someone that I know. Mostly when I encounter them, I act appropriate and say appropriate things while in their presence. Then I run to my car and cry. Very mature, I know, but it gets me through the day.

  • I have been trying to conceive for almost 2 years the age of 22 I am definitely not suppose to have issues but I understand exactly what you’ve been blogging about and would love for you to write a guest post on my blog at anytime!

  • What a great word and never thought of it that way or aware of my own behavior. For me, I think I’ve become the expert at avoidance. I avoid any parties or social events that I know there will be children or pregnant women. I avoid friends who are pregnant and have babies. And this is because being in their presence is exhausting and painful for me. So I avoid so I don’t have to deal with any of it.

  • pluto

    That encounter with the pregnant colleague, with your “cavalcade of emotions,” was really well told.
    She’d be startled if she knew what you were feeling.

  • Ann

    There is another woman at my workplace who rides the same shuttle to work that I do. She is in her third trimester. I have heard rumors her department will be moved off-site. I am secretly hoping it will be moved soon, rather than later, so I don’t have to look at her anymore.