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.
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.
10 hours ago