Monday, September 20, 2004

Is that what you think?

That’s what you think?

A couple of posts lately in Blogworld have upset me. I don’t know how to link, but in both cases it was fantastic blogwomen who have been feeling as if their infertility made the world at large pity them or see them as freaks.
Here I sit, ten weeks away from (God willing) the birth of my child, my daughter, the baby I struggled and longed for. So maybe my past as an infertile is coloring my thought process just a bit (ya think?). And I know my own lingering insecurities from the Infertile Time are affecting me still.
But it hurts me that these amazing women would think that of themselves or that another person would make a horrible comment to them. And yet. I notice how much more comfortable some people are with me now. Part of it, I am sure, is that I don’t walk around with that thin miasma of tears and sadness and longing that hovered over me while I waited to be where I am now. I am sure how I felt showed on my face no matter how hard I tried to put on my happy girl front. People just flat out feel more comfortable with someone who seems happy. That’s not the best way to be, but most of the world is like that.
But the ugly part, the part that makes me feel so deeply sad, is that people also don’t like being around anyone who is “different.” If my defect was worn on the outside, if I had boils, say, or a missing limb, people would feel uncomfortable, I have done it myself— the eyes slide to what is missing, they narrow in shock, then just as quickly slide away.
I don’t know what I would feel like if I were a “fertile” instead of how I see myself — as an infertile who got profoundly lucky. Would I pity those who couldn’t get pregnant?
Would I feel “thank GOD that’s not me” instead of “Jesus, that was almost me. I wish I could give her a hug and tell her I know how bad this sucks, that it won’t always be like this, that I know her condition and her pain is real and she can hate me if she wants” ?

I like to think I wouldn’t look down in pity had things been different for me, thanks to the intervention of a good friend. Before I had the slightest worry about my fertility (besides NEVER NO AT ALL COSTS don’t get pregnant) a good friend went through infertility. She took me through her journey, confiding in me and gently setting me straight when I said asshat things. I learned how to cheer her on along the way and got to know how profoundly devastating this is. Now, looking back I can see what a gift that was to allow me into what was going on with her, because sometimes infertility hurts so much you just want to roll into a little ball and never let anyone see your soft underbelly.
She’s now the mother of four beautiful children, two boy and one girl triplets conceived on injectibles and a “surprise” son. She could be a self-absorbed mommy type if she wanted. But instead:
It’s five years later and Paul and I are a year into our journey to conceive. I may have mentioned to her we’re “trying” but we haven’t discussed it. Paul and I haven’t yet haven’t pursued any treatment at all.
And then, two weeks after our best college friend’s wedding, he announced his wife is pregnant. On their honeymoon. First month trying. The stick had just turned blue. He’s never even liked kids before (in his defense he’s a great dad now). I say all the right things and hang up the phone sobbing. I am even surprised it’s affected me so badly. I didn’t realize our lack of success was getting to me; I thought I was okay, holding it together, patiently waiting for my husband to come around to the necessity of testing. Guess not.
And a short time later, a Christmas card came. A few short lines in my friend’s round girly handwriting. “I know this must be hard for you — I remember when we were trying it really hit me when people would get pregnant so fast. Let me know if you want to talk about it.”
Somebody who’d been through it and came out the other side, and still remembered, still cared, who KNEW this easy announcement was a shot through my heart and didn’t judge me. It meant the world to me then and still does now.
So know, those of us who’ve made it, at least those of us with an ounce of empathy in our hearts, we don’t pity you. We feel for you, sometimes more deeply than you may realize. We know how sad you feel, how being around us must just blow, how the last thing you want to see is our big round bellies. And we know that you don’t hate us because you blow off our baby showers or distance yourself from us for a time. We’d probably do the same.
It doesn’t negate the crappy inner self-loathing or the borderline psychotic comments from people who should damn well know better – but I hope it helps. I really, really hope it helps.


Anna H. said...

Amy, how good and strong your friend was, and how good you are to all of us in return!

I think you're right about difference playing a role in how people relate to us infertiles. The thing is too, that unlike other kinds of loss like death or divorce or illness, IF is something that -- despite all the hysteria -- doesn't actually happen to that many people, so it can be really foreign and unfamiliar to those around us. And traditionally at least, IF is something that people don't talk about, so they just don't have the vocabulary to respond to it... I know that it's not our job to inform/educate people (God knows, we have enough to deal with!), but I try and talk about the IF as honestly as I can with people who ask, or who want to know when I'm having kids, etc., so that it's something they've at least heard before, even if they can't wholly understand it. I'm not ashamed or embarassed of what we've gone through; it's the _not_ talking about it makes me feel like there's something wrong with me/us.

I apologize for the long post -- yours just got me thinking.

Am so glad to see you have your own blog now!


AmyinMotown said...

Thanks Anna. Very insightful comment. I too have been very open about my infertility and the causes behind it. I am a big believer that silence increases shame.