So, for maybe the 30th time in a two-year span, I have been invited to a baby shower for a friend. And for the 3,000th time in that same period, another jagged little piece has splintered from my heart, leaving a trail of tears and bitterness in its wake.

I am barren in a boomtime for breeders, one of those increasingly unusual 20- and 30-somethings who is not yet a mother or a mother-to-be. There aren't very many of us left, and that only adds to my heartbreak: one by one, I am losing my friends to parenthood.

The reason why we are childless is because I am literally broken inside, in more than just the psychological sense. I have inherited so many things from my family, and among those "gifts" are bad genetics. The metabolic inconsistency that causes diabetes is also a primary factor behind PCOS.

My ovaries, those two small organs that make me a woman, don't work as they should. They are scarred, damaged, full of cysts, battered from a lifetime of exposure to the wrong sorts of hormones. Too much insulin, too much androgen, not enough estrogen. They don't work.

I spent ten years on the Pill, and I didn't need to. All that money, all that worry, wasted on eggs that will not hatch. I spent two years undergoing infertility treatment that made me crazy, miserable, and suicidal, all for absolutely nothing except an emptied savings account and a view of the brink of divorce.

And in the same week that one of my oldest friends had her first child, I got my period for the first time in almost six months. After two weeks of sore breasts, phantom smells, fatigue, appetite changes, morning nausea, and constant trips to the bathroom. After 14 glorious days of pregnancy symptoms.

Neither of us wanted to talk about it, really, but I think we both thought that this time was It. You don't look a gift horse in the mouth, so we just danced around what we both were wishing for, hoping against hope. This weekend, on lucky 07-07-07, we were going to buy The Test and confirm what we both want more than oxygen.

Instead, we sent flowers to the hospital with a card that said: "Congratulations." Except, secretly, neither of us really mean it. Our friends had not even met when we got married. They bought a house before we did. They forced us to share our anniversary. And then they had the baby that logic says should have been ours.

My hand and my heart are both tired of writing "Congratulations" in so many pastel cards covered with ducks. I don't want to do it any more, and I don't really mean it anyway. I kind of never have. It's not fair, and it isn't right. I have followed all the rules my whole life, done everything according to plan, and this is my reward?

It's become a kind of secret password, "Congratulations" has. It doesn't mean to me what it means to them. It doesn't really mean, "I'm so happy that this wonderful thing has happened to you." It's more like, "How could you betray and abandon me like this? How can you take what I don't have?"

And as much as I know that none of this is my fault or their fault or anybody's fault but God's, that cruel heartless bastard, I still feel ashamed of things that I cannot control. I am the Great White Hope, and I am letting so many people down, and I can't fix it, and I am a total failure because I am the One Who Fixes Things.

So I will keep saying "Congratulations," but what I really mean, secretly, deep down inside where everything is hot and cold and sad and very, very angry, is: "Fuck you."

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