Thursday, May 24, 2012

The wrong water

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.


  1. Jane, I have no words to soothe your pain, but know that I'm here to listen if you want to talk and I'll always read your posts if you prefer to write instead. Big hugs, Fran

  2. That just sucks. I'm so sorry.

  3. We had a chair like that, in the finance department.

    Woman 1 got pregnant, her maternity cover got pregnant, woman 1 came back, got pregnant again and her (different) maternity cover then got pregnant.

    I'd occasionally pull it over to sit in when visiting the department - didn't work for me.

    But like the on going water joke people still thought it was hilarious and would make cautionary noises when anyone sat down in it.


  4. My heart aches for you Jane. I am fortunate to work in an office of all men - I prefer not to work with women, and that is one of the reasons why. It's tough enough to listen to the men talk about their pregnant wives, but I can't imagine having to listen and watch the women go through their pregnancy. Hugs!

  5. Oh I feel for you, and I could write a fairly similar timeline of the workplace I've been in the past 8 years. I am indeed the only woman here (am just shy of 40) who has not announced, had a wonderful send-off, disappeared on maternity leave, popped back in my little one/s, had lunches with the other fertile ladies, talked everyone's ears off about teething and school issues, disappeared early and arrived late because junior/ess needs me, been welcome back to the workplace with praise, announced again.... no, the water/chair will never affect me, but I'll be forced to watch it happen all around. And feel unincluded by my own gender, like I'll always be just one of the guys... It really does suck, yes? Yes. Huge hug from me too.