Friday, April 10, 2009

A thank you

In the blogosphere, it's not hard to identify a woman who has struggled to conceive a child. It may be mentioned in the "about me" section, or evident from the links to infertility-related support in the sidebar, or in the title itself. (Which was what I was going for on this blog, I'm guessing you picked up on that.) I'm sure many women who have been touched by infertility choose not to mention it in their writing, but there are enough who do -- and are loud enough about it, thank goodness -- that the online IF community is strong.

In the real world, however, it is much more difficult to play Spot the Infertile. Which is part of the reason why many of us withdraw and don't offer up our stories as readily as we can on the Internet. You are more likely to get a "You know, my friend had problems so she adopted a baby and then she finally got pregnant!" or "Have you tried propping your hips?" than a "I've been there too, I'm so sorry."

I'm not sure how many other infertiles are guilty of this, but when I am in a room full of other moms, I automatically assume that they all got pregnant quickly and easily. Not accurate, obviously, but my self doubt feeds this notion. Back when I first had Bean, I would not only imagine myself to always be surrounded by the fertility gifted, but I would subsequently feel like I was a lesser woman, a lesser mother, because of that.

I couldn't do it on my own.

They could.

Line drawn.

As Bean has gotten older, this thinking error has lost a lot of strength. Perhaps it's because having a smiling, healthy son has empowered me to some degree, or perhaps I've reflected more on what I've been through (I overcame a fear of needles to give myself shots, I'm pretty sure that makes me awesome on SOME level), or perhaps it's because time wounds all heels. Or something like that.

But now that we are TTC again, some of that old insecurity has slithered back into my heart. Not as bad as it was before, hopefully it won't be. But I look at the other moms with two kids close in age and wonder what they did right -- and what I am doing wrong -- to achieve pregnancy so readily. (And do not say propping her hips. I'll glare at you menacingly.)

Which brings me to today: the MOMS Club Easter potluck lunch.

Let me set the scene first. About 46 of us (moms and kiddos) RSVPed. It was held at a local church, the food set out in one area while the kids burned off energy in the playroom. It was absolute mass chaos. I have been a member of this group since January, but because of Bean's two-a-day nap schedule, it's been very difficult to make it to events. This was by far the biggest gathering I had been to, and I knew only a couple of the other moms. It was very overwhelming for both of us, so upon arriving, I took Bean to the corner to play with some blocks where we could interact more quietly with whomever was nearby.

I chatted with one mom whose 3-year-old son took interest in the blocks as well. After a brief discussion on the difficulty in finding a reliable auto body repair shop, she looked at her son wistfully and said out of the blue, "He's going to be our only child."

Never having met this woman before, I was so surprised at her candor that all I could reply was, "Oh really?"

After a pause, she continued. "Yes. We went through a lot to get pregnant the first time."

"We struggled quite a bit with him, too," I replied, nodding at Bean. "We are hoping for a miracle again."

She ruffled her son's hair. "We often call him our miracle."

With that, her son went bolting out the door into another room, and she excused herself with a smile to follow him.

Wow, did that really just happen?

After the Easter egg hunt, it was time for lunch. I sat down with two other moms. One of them, who I do know from previous events, has two young kids who are Asian (she's Caucasian). It's possible her husband is Asian, but as neither kid seems to have any of her physical traits, I'm guessing they are adopted. The second mom sat with her 6-year-old son, I had not met them before. They were very nice and I enjoyed the conversation. In sharing stories of our kids, the second mom said, "The other day, my son asked if he could have a sibling." She laughed easily and naturally before continuing, "I told him that we had tried but it didn't work out."

"I want a sibling because I'm bored," her son piped up to inform us. "My friends are always sick."

His mom went on, "He said he wants a sibling by the time he's eight. I told him even if he has one now, it will be a baby and won't be able to play with him for a long time."

The topic flowed naturally to other subjects, but of course my mind was stuck there. If the situation had been different, I would have loved to have talked her to more about secondary infertility, however it was obviously not the time.

Maybe I don't get out much (okay, I definitely don't get out much), but I was surprised that two women I had known for no more than five minutes each had chosen to share even a small piece of their struggle with infertility with me. It was a great reminder that I cannot assume to know what another woman went through to conceive. And I don't have a monopoly on IF heartbreak, no matter where I am. When I open my ears, I can hear in real life what I hear from so many others online.

So to those two women today, I want to give a shout-out, props, thanks, etc.

By being open about your IF, you are doing more of a service than you realize.


  1. Thanks for sharing your story.

    I guess I used to assume that everyone who wasn't an older mother got pregnant easily. After following quite a few blogs relating to IF in amoungst other paretning issues, I hope I am more understanding of different situations (and don't rush in to ask when people will have another child).

    I think if people understood more about IF they would feel more comfortable when someone else says that they had trouble conceiving and maybe more people would share their stories.

  2. I do that same thing. I assume that everyone else does not have trouble but I have found that there are many more people who do have troubles then I think. When I talk about it I hear a lot of their stories and it is a nice reminder to not assume.

  3. That is all so true. Hang in there, C. And I love the new blog look too.

  4. I'm not always right, but I've started to pick up on vibes. I wish I'd had that ability when I was struggling the first go around. I felt so incredibly lonely, except in the blogosphere. Thank goodness for that.

  5. I really, REALLY enjoyed reading this post. I was so naive when I had my first two daughters (one miscarriage in-between them). When I was diagnosed with PCOS and struggled with SI I took a harder look at the women around me (those with children and those who are childless).

    Many times I've been glared at in public by an obviously childless woman... or I've seen someone longingly watching my girls. I didn't understand. I do now!

    I think infertility is becoming less taboo, too. People are more willing to open up about it now.

  6. You know, I got pregnant on the first try with my dd. And while I figured the second time would not be as easy, I never anticipated the three years, two miscarriages, and endless treatment cycles I would go through and still not have another baby. I was one of those who had it easy, and I'm actually embarrassed. To have been so naive. To not have been grateful enough. Thanks for sharing this story.

  7. I'm so glad to hear this. Frankly, I sometimes worry that I'm TOO open. That I'm sharing too much or scaring people off by saying, "Hey it took us a lot longer than we thought and we're still not sure what happened or why we finally got lucky after 14 months or what might happen next time around....etc."

    I'm doing it because I wish more people had been open with me when we were TTC and things were rough. It's nice to know that others out there really ARE looking to hear this kind of thing.

  8. Hi there, just found your blog.

    In my case the more I have shared and tried to be open with our struggles the more comments I've gotten. Things like "just don't try". It makes me not want to open myself up to that unless it's someone I'm already close to.


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