A few years back, I was on a committee with a representative of the university veterans' club. I think we were working on "student concerns" generally - about the 4 hour wait for the bookstore at the start of semester and cafeteria food somehow and lack of childcare on campus. She was very deeply concerned that syllabi didn't have trigger warnings, particularly a class that required students to attend a field trip to an international street market downtown. Evidently a veteran had a nasty PTSD episode attending it and had no way to get an accommodation to do something else - it was attend or fail the class, and the student hadn't realized what cultures would be represented or zie would have tried to opt out more forcefully. My response (in my head) was that if you came home with PTSD or just some general twitchiness, then the world is a trigger and no amount of warnings could keep you safe. I'm still not sure if that was as insensitive as I thought it was at the time, but I didn't say it then and I probably wouldn't say that now in such a conversation. Not that bluntly anyway. Fundamentally I think though, there's no way to predict even your own triggers so how could anyone warn everyone about potentially triggering content?
I decided to get an IUD a few weeks ago. I was indecisive, we were indecisive about additional biologic children, I wasn't home anyway to get one installed, so after my annual check-up I stuck with the pills for a few more months. I stink at staying pregnant on the off chance I do get pregnant so I had no interest in any surprises, plus with PCOS I would rather not ovulate if I can avoid it to hopefully skip some cysts.
So I got the pesky thing installed and then it quit hurting, and then it got all newly stabby so I had to go back in to have it checked. The strings were out of place some too. Then a date with Wanda the wonder wand for another ultrasound. I was trying to think through how many of those I have had over the years and I had no idea how many. Too many.
It was such an unpleasant experience. I was tempted to cry. I may yet remembering it. Mostly because it went just like the ultrasound for a miscarriage - friendly banter with the tech, "oh you managed to have a full bladder for the external part! Most people seem to misunderstand that part..." "I've done this a few times before," "how many kids do you have?" and then silence when we got to the part that might be medical evaluation if the tech commented. Knowing everything is probably fine is one thing, but the silence still stung.
Of course there's also the obligatory recitation over and over of my pregnancy history, to every rotten person involved (and why does this ultrasound require knowing if they were vaginal births anyway?). The peppy young gal who did my procedure seemed totally unfazed by it, which stings too. The most visceral memory I have from my d&c was coming out of anesthesia and hearing the docs and nurses discussing their holiday plans with their kids and it's not one of those things that gets less painful. I have that nightmare maybe once a month still.
Of course when my doc called with the results (she sent a message saying "I'd like to speak to you about the results" online... totally useless and just out to scare me) I was outside planting something with the Kid and my spouse didn't make an effort to find me, so we wound up with "I guess the report online says everything I would have, she can read that." Except the report isn't online for a number of days. I gave up calling back because then I would certainly have cried, and who cries over an IUD? That's outrageous! I feel so... diminished because such a supposedly simple thing is so fraught.
In May I visited with my friend whose three kids are the ages of the Kid and pregnancies 2 & 3 would have been. That was hard driving there alone to remember, and then just once when the oldest was reminding me of their ages. I don't think he remembered me much since it had been 2 years so he doesn't remember how very well I know his birthday - the day my blood pressure was up and my doc threatened to induce me, but then it settled down just enough I could loaf on my couch another 4 weeks until I went into labor on my own. After that first hour, it was fine, we all had a blast hanging out and playing and soforth. Not much of a problem. I had this fantasy that it was better now, that I was "over" infertility kicking my tailfeathers for so many years. Hah.
Usually I don't notice any more the families that look like I'd thought ours might. I went to a baby shower willingly (for 5 minutes) and I visited a newborn and didn't cry. When people announce pregnancies, I don't have to actively not cringe and I'm usually genuinely happy with no residual sadness lurking. I am ditching baby stuff left and right without trying to save anything "just in case." This might be everyone in our family and I might be all right with that.
But sometimes the trigger sneaks up on you. Pesky infertility. It will really and truly always be parenting through (maybe adoption,) infertility, and loss. There will never be an "after." Sigh.