The well-meaning questions: "When are you going to give Doug a baby?" "Where are my grandchildren?"
The celebrations of joy: new babies announced. Other people's new babies. Other people's reports about conceiving easily, even accidentally.
The Offspring looked up from his book this afternoon and asked, "Mom, are you okay?" I was reading an entry in Lotsalaundry's book, Your First Year of Motherhood, about infertility, and he saw it on my face. I burst into tears and went and hugged him, and it was a few minutes before I could explain.
Because ten years later, it can still hurt like hell.
Remembering all those years of wanting a child, remembering the pain as others had babies, and the babies grew into children and then into teenagers.
Ten years of wanting a child. An adoption attempt that ended badly: another story, another pain that will never go away.
Ten years during which I went on with life. Got a PhD, got a tenure-track job; completed some triathlons and half marathons; traveled with The Mate and hiked and biked and saw beautiful places and experienced something of some other cultures.
Yet always in the background, often in the foreground, the ache, sometimes mild, other times a stabbing, heart-rending pain.
And then, surprise, a pregnancy. Ten years ago today, I was already pregnant, but didn't yet know it. I was surprised again when he was born, an actual live baby. A miracle.
Nine and a half years later ... the most difficult and the most rewarding thing I've ever done, the most exhausting and the most exhilarating ... life changing? No, change isn't a strong enough word.
The externals are much the same. I still live in the same city, I still work at the same job, with many of the same colleagues. I'm still married to The Mate. I have hiking boots, skis, a bike and some clothing that are older than The Offspring. I still listen to the Indigo Girls and Simon and Garfunkel, still play Mozart and Bach on the piano when I can find the time, which is less frequent these days.
The landscape of my heart, on the other hand, has had a complete overhaul. Yet that pain is still carved into my flesh and etched into my soul.