The great thing about the summer was that for the most part I didn't have to deal with stuff with which I didn't want to deal. What this ended up being was less a vacation or quiet period and more being lulled into a false sense of security.
Our department had a reception for all of the graduates (which, woo-hoo! I is a professor now!) on Friday night, and although I knew children would be there in abstract (because family was invited), it didn't really hit me until I got there, with lots of kids running around everywhere. One student has something like 4 or 5 kids, which makes me wonder when he ever had time to actually write his dissertation. But, well, you know. Babies everywhere. None of them mine. No children to introduce when asked to introduce my guests. Someone called their children their "greatest accomplishment", and it rankled. Someone else referred to their grandson, Jacob. That was a knife twisting in my gut. No Jacob for me. No Joshua for me. No boys for me, and the joy of this day dulled by the tragedy preceding it.
And then our friend had her daughter. She's, like, 10 pounds. She's a monster. We want to go over there and celebrate, but seeing them as new parents again seems like it's going to hurt. It's weird, being suspended in this place between joy and grief - I am happy for them, I want to celebrate, but can't. The same way that I knew the three bourbons I had at the bar the Saturday after commencement would hurt the next day unless I took precautions. We have to take precautions around people.
Anymore I'm okay, most of the time. Not always. But I got picked on a lot as a kid. Beaten up. Teased. Bullied. I learned pretty early on how to shove things to the back of my mind, keep going forward, never let them see you cry. My avoidance of all things child and baby-related has become routine. But every now and then, something surfaces. These days it's pretty much an impatience with the children of strangers in public places and the creation of a pretty terrifying soccer-mom strawman in my head. How much of this is knowing that I'll be teaching their children someday, I dunno.
It all feels like a product of being trapped between two places - I'm doing really well professionally, but I can't have kids. I want to be happy and enjoy this, but S is still pretty down, and although I want her to come along with me on trying to enjoy what we have instead of mourning what we don't sometimes, I know it won't be that easy for her. I want to celebrate and enjoy the children of people I know, but I can feel the agony waiting in the wings. It was bad enough being trapped between in all of that time we spent in hospital limbo. I want it to be over already so I can have the rest of my life back.