Before I paid any attention to the word 'infertility', and definitely before starting trying to conceive, I was the same as any other of the 83 percent of people who don't have any problems in this regard, oblivious.
I was as likely to ask my peers stupid, hurtful questions as anyone else. 'You should start popping them out now before it's too late' or 'I suppose we'll be hearing the pitter patter any day now?'
Now, things have changed.
We've struggled to conceive. Struggled is a much kinder way of saying failed, isn't it?
We've been through the exciting early months, full of sex induced giggles and exchanged knowing looks, 'that'll be us soon'.
We've had the doubts build over the months, uneasy moments when you allow your mind to wonder what lies ahead, the darker and previously un-thought of places of 'what if?'
We now find ourselves firmly planted in limbo, we can't go back, and can't go forward. We continue to hope, and try our best, hand over our trust to others, and brace ourselves for the next disappointment.
We face daily reminders of how big the vacant space in our lives is becoming.
We get left behind, people I read about are getting pregnant, friends, colleagues and family are passing us out.
The good news buzz sweeps around us, we add our congratulations, but the whirlwind moves on, carrying the happy with it, leaving us behind.
One more day, one more cycle, one more month, one more important date, one more test, one more delay, one more disappointment at a time.
What a transformation it’s been, from almost careless to almost hopeless.
This whole experience has soaked into me, drenched me to the bone, I'm different now, I don’t want to think about the sinister changes, so positively, I am more compassionate, more thoughtful, and more aware.
At times I joke to myself that I've become like that kid from 'the sixth sense', without the shocking haircut and the inability to speak aloud, but with a different extra sense.
"I see infertile people...."
I sit and watch people pass by.
It's easy to identify the parents, with the little midget people hanging off of them, a weary sleepless contentment in their eyes.
The parents in waiting are easy to spot, pregnant bellies of all stages on the mother, the proud spring in the step of the father, the smiles swapped when they pass other members of their excruciatingly exclusive club.
It's no problem to identify the young couples who haven't yet handed over their souls to the family desiring devils. They lounge around in Summer sunshine, flip-flop footed, almost careless.
There is another group, couples who walk around, heads lower than the others, at an unusual pace. They are not hurried like the parents, they are not strolling like the carefree.
They walk fast enough so they don't have the time to face up to what they are missing around them, but not too fast, there is no one waiting for them.
Mental weariness takes a different toll than physical, their eyes show the outward signs of the internal battles they've been fighting, for months, and likely, years.
Some of these couples walk with a notable distance between them. Others, the lucky ones, still squeeze each others hands now and then, they are not beaten yet.
Am I mad? Has all this driven me to hallucinations? Has all the blood finally relocated from my brain to my crotch?
I wonder can I really see them, and if so, I wonder if they can see me?