I started in my present job in August 2010. It's a small outpost of a very large multinational corporation. There are twenty employees in the office, including three temporary contractors. Finance and accountancy industries tend to be female dominated, and our office is no different. There are just four men in our place. When I started there, there was one heavily pregnant lady in the office, the first pregnancy in the company in four years.
Since then it's been a hive of fertility. It goes something like this (all the names have been changed to protect the fertiles):
August '10: I join company. One pregnant colleague, Anne, seven months pregnant.
Sept '10: Marie announces her pregnancy, Susan joins the company, returning to work after the birth of her first child.
Oct '10: Anne goes on maternity leave, and gives birth to a daughter.
Dec '11: Eve gets married.
Feb '11: Eve goes on honeymoon for a month.
March '11: Marie goes on maternity leave, and gives birth to a son.
April '11: Susan announces her pregnancy.
May '11: Aoife joins the company as a project accountant on a year's contract. She is also returning to work after the birth of her first child.
August '11: Anne returns from maternity leave.
Oct '11: Susan goes on maternity leave, and gives birth to a daughter.
Nov '11: Sinead gets married and goes on honeymoon for a month.
Dec '11: Aoife announces her pregnancy. Sinead returns from honeymoon. Kate gets married on New Year's Eve and goes on honeymoon for a month.
Jan '12: Marie returns from maternity leave. Kate returns from honeymoon.
Feb '12: Eve announces her pregnancy.
March '12: Kate announces her pregnancy.
April '12: Sinead announces her pregnancy. Colleagues joke about pregnancy being contagious. It's in the water they say! I quip that I'm drinking three pints of the Goddam stuff a day. One of the pregnant people says straight back to my face - you're drinking the wrong water, Jane. Ouch.
May '12: Last Friday we send Aoife on her merry way with lunch and gifts. Her contract was due to finish up soon, and her doctor wanted to sign her off work, so she has finished up a few weeks in advance of her due date. Last Monday Anne arrives back from her holidays after a trip to Venice for her thirtieth birthday, to announce her second pregnancy. As soon as she walks out of our office, I have a mini nervous breakdown. Sobbing, tears, snot, irrationality, the whole nine yards. I leave the office at lunchtime, because at this stage I have cried myself into a migraine and the tears are showing no sign of abating.
Because I will be forty three this day week.
Because Monday was the five year anniversary of the day we lost our third pregnancy, the one in my mind that should have made it.
Because I just know that I will never come into work and say "guess what lads, I was drinking the right water all along! I've caught that bug that's going around! I'm one of you!"
Because I am now the only married woman in the office who is neither pregnant nor a mother, and it hurts so bloody much.
Ah, infertility. The unwanted gift that never, ever stops giving.
The Snakebite of Death
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