Silent Sorority

Infertility Survivors Finally Heard

October 26, 2010

Heart to Heart

Heart-filled conversations don’t often surface with work colleagues.

I don’t like to bring grown men to tears, not the least of which because it usually gets me verklempt.

“It has grieved me greatly,” he said with just the barest hint of Southern drawl, “to think I might have hurt you in some way…”

“Oh,” I protested, “please don’t think…”

“No,” he continued. “As I was reading your book, I recalled the very instant, the place where we were when you first told me you were having problems with infertility. It was lunch at Uncle Yu’s.”

I flash backed to the scene seven years ago. A former boss, now friend, he seemed surprised when I ordered a glass of wine — at 11:45 am. It was to dull the ache that was once a permanent accessory.

“Yes, Pam,” his voice softened, “it’s bothered me to know that I didn’t hear you then, that I could have thrown a drowning friend a lifeline and I didn’t do it.”

He looked down. His shoulders sagged under the weight of personal failing. I looked away blinking rapidly to dissipate the tears forming in my eyes.

“But, you couldn’t have known,” I said fighting emotions that came back as real as they had been then, when I was feeling so lost in the wake of our last IVF cycle failure. “Most wouldn’t have known what to do. I didn’t know what to do.”

“I know I’ve let you down,” he said his voice above a whisper, “and I’m so sorry.”

“Really, you couldn’t have known…”

We both looked straight ahead lost in thought.

“Do you have any idea what a great service you’ve done with your writing?” he asked, straightening up to his full 6’4″ in height, “how truly proud I am to know you.”

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I blushed.

“Your husband, your father. Such great men. I have three daughters…I need to know how to help them if…”

Memories of Darkness Resurfaced

I was relieved to leave the memories of the darkness that surrounded me years earlier and return to the hard-won, peaceful state of mind that now fills my life in 2010. I collected myself and moved the conversation away from me.

“The best way to help them is with knowledge,” I counseled gently. “It’s never too early to know if everything is, um, working properly. Knowledge is power. The more you know, early, the easier it is to plan. Doctors can test for ovarian reserve, hormone levels…everything might be perfectly fine. Either way you have a baseline.”

His face revealed determination. Yes,” he said decisively.  “That never occurred to me.”

I could see the gears turning in his head. Men, I’ve learned, hate nothing more than feeling helpless. They love an action plan. We walked out the courtyard where we met unexpectedly and toward the building where we both had different meetings to attend.

Spontaneous heart to hearts seem to be happening more and more these days as people I know discover Silent Sorority and place themselves in context as they read. It’s been several years now since I began to make peace with my life, but I’m surprised, still, by how readily the emotions and memories of darkness flood back with a scene, a conversation.

Gift of the Heart

I made my way down the hall, past colleagues many of whom still know nothing of my personal drama, of all that came before in my once secret life. I found my office, opened my work email and lost myself in a project that required no emotion, only thought.

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This morning, recalling yesterday’s heart-filled chance encounter, I realized how much of our lives are lived at the surface and what a gift it is to truly connect from the heart.

Different Than I Expected, Relationships 19 Replies to “Heart to Heart”
Pamela Tsigdinos
Pamela Tsigdinos
Writer, blogger and, oh, yeah, infertility survivor. My memoir, Silent Sorority, tells the whole story. There's a movie in there somewhere. Given the quirkiness needed to relate it all I'm thinking Jennifer Lawrence would be a good fit.


19 thoughts on “Heart to Heart

    Author’s gravatar

    The wistful longing that can bring these tears will never go away. This was the warning my great aunt gave me when I knew it wouldn’t come for me in the way I hope.

    It is good that someone recognizes that, perhaps, there is a better way to handle the unspoken pains we all bear.

    Author’s gravatar

    Pam — thanks again for speaking up for all of us.

    Author’s gravatar

    Yes! Yes!!! Your book will bring people to new levels of understanding for years to come. Every new person who “gets it” will be able to share that knowledge with other people, who will share that knowledge with other people… What a great story, and what great validation from a friend. Thanks for sharing this!

    Author’s gravatar

    Hi Pamela, My name is also Pamela Mahoney and I have just come across your book titled Silent Sorority. I also lost a child still born in 1974 at full term – so to find a lady and author with a similar name was amazing. So nice to see that you have been able to have a new start.
    Kind regards
    Pamela Mahoney Dunn

    Author’s gravatar

    how nice to have a friend with such a sensitive, kind heart!

    Author’s gravatar

    It truly is a gift, & you have connected with so many! : )

    I especially liked this sentence: “past colleagues many of whom still know nothing of my personal drama, of all that came before in my once secret life.” That’s my reality too. Turnover being what it is, the majority of my colleagues these days weren’t around 10-12 years ago when I was going through infertility & stillbirth. Most of them are young enough/I am now old enough that some of them could theoretically have been my kids themselves (eeek!!) — & many of them are just now getting married & starting families. I don’t want to rain on their parades when they’re just getting started — but if I ever learn any of them are struggling with these issues, I will tell them my story & offer my support.

    Author’s gravatar

    We have our own radar don’t we? I can read a room now like never before…good to know we can help those coming up behind us.

    Author’s gravatar

    What a great story, Pamela. I’m sure there were times that you doubted the wisdom of putting such a personal story out there, but I hope this encounter served to assure you of what a great thing you did. xox

    Author’s gravatar

    He’s a gem! Wish there were more like him…

    Author’s gravatar

    Thanks for coming to visit, Pamela Mahoney! I never thought I’d actually meet someone who shares my name (it is a rather unique combo — English and Irish monikers brought together — and now added to the mix Scottish and Greek)…so very nice to make your acquaintance.

    Author’s gravatar

    Your great aunt sounds like a wise and caring soul …

    Author’s gravatar

    Thanks much. I doubted in a big, big way, Lisa, the wisdom. But it’s only now in hindsight that I see the worry wasn’t necessary.

    Author’s gravatar

    Thank you for your comment on my blog. It meant a great deal to me. You are bringing words out into the open that I have never been able to say.

    Author’s gravatar

    I am so glad, I read it in one night, and cried all the way thru….so much of it felt like I could have written it. We went thru infertility meds, off /on 7 years , did get preg once while taking nothing, but then had water break early at 20 weeks and after a week of bed rest in the hospital he was still born… At the time 5 of us cousins were preg , so now I get to go thru , well I usually only make it to 2, birthday parties (this year 6 year olds). The 2 in Jan I make it thru then after april when mine was lost, I dont make it to….. I have started going to a councilor, after I read the book, I do need to thank you for that….I need to learn how to live beyond it. And I passed it on to my sister to read, because she just doesn’t understand what to do or say….I hope she can get it, that no matter how much I love doing things with my 10 nieces and nephews everytime I do I am also mourning the fact I will never see my own son or daughter get to do the same thing…..

    Author’s gravatar

    Dear Robin,
    My deepest condolences…I truly feel for you. Be gentle with yourself and do let us know how you’re doing. Meanwhile, I hope your sister and others close to you can learn to provide understanding and empathy…

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