Yesterday I visited another of my friends, mother of another of my godsons. For no reason other than the general busy-ness of life, I hadn't seen her for over a year, so we had a lot of catching up to do. Although we had spoken on the phone, there are some things that just don't get communicated in a phone call.
I was sitting in the kitchen chatting with her while she finished preparing lunch, and she was asking me about my redundancy and what I planned to do next. I told her about the job that had fallen through, and that my current plan is to see if I can make freelancing work.
I then effortlessly moved into, "And that fits in better with our other priority. I can't remember if I told you, but we found out last year that we can't have children. We've had three unsuccessful attempts at IVF, and now we're gearing up for what will be our final attempt, so I'm trying to keep the stress in my life as low as possible and concentrate on relaxing and being as healthy as possible."
There was no angst, no telling her how difficult the year had been and how unhappy we'd been about it - just a bald statement of the facts. But of course, it was the first time she'd heard these facts, and she hadn't had a clue we were going through all this.
Things went a bit quiet, and she didn't really respond to the next thing I said. Then suddenly she flung down her spatula and rushed over to give me a huge hug, and I noticed that she was crying. She just choked out, "That's so unfair. You would be such a good mother", and it took her a while to get herself under control again.
Perversely, I felt good that she felt so bad for me. But it did make me wonder how I managed to be so matter-of-fact about it. I suppose once you've been living with something for over a year, you have to harden yourself to it a bit. I'm not sure that anything quite matches the devastation of the first appointment when you're told you're infertile, or the first failed IVF - though I may learn differently if our last attempt fails and I have to face that finality.
For now, I seem to have grown a hard shell over my heart to protect myself from all that emotion. I know our final attempt will break through that shell, and at the moment I'm not ready for that to happen. I'm quite happy to live in limbo and pretend to myself that it's just one of those things, that you mention in passing while catching up over lunch and a cup of tea.