I read another infertility blog yesterday, and a few of the points raised really struck a chord with me. The blogger told her readers not to ask people IF they will have children, WHEN they will have children and most poignantly for me, not to ask someone who already has a child when they will have another. Boy, I have had plenty of people ask me!
Those struggling with infertility are hurting, and hurting badly. Being asked about becoming pregnant is high up on the emotional pain meter. It is absolutely one of those experiences that cannot be fully understood by those who have never experienced it, and even then we probably don’t really understand it! I don’t mean to patronise those who are fertile, but it is true. I know because I have been on both sides of the coin. My first TTC experience was easy. I don’t want to get into a Primary infertility v Secondary infertility debate right now, as we are all in our own battles with infertility, but these last 2 years have shown me how truly awful it is to want to have a baby and it not happen.
Our little one is at the age where people are now asking if we are going to have ‘anymore’. Anymore? Really? The phrasing of the question bothers me, because it makes it sound so bloody simple. It sounds like a judgement, that I should have more, and makes me feel isolated because I can’t provide a sibling. It makes it sound like I can just click my fingers and nonchalantly decide the universe will grant me another child. Like it is my choice and under my control. Sure, I can decide I would like another child and try to make it happen Au natural, but after that NOTHING is under my control. Not the timing, not the difficulty of the journey and not the measures we have to take to get our miracle baby. NOTHING.
Asking about a fertility journey is brave when you think about … and yet, people ask. Perhaps us having our little one leads to an assumption that we have chosen to be a family of 3. But even if there is a suspicion of a problem, they have no idea what emotional state we are in … and yet, they ask. Are they wrong or right to do so? Is it something so normal and natural that we should be allowed to ask women of child bearing age about their plans to reproduce? Or is something very personal, between husband and wife, a topic not up for discussion? Sometimes I want to talk about it in great depth. I want people to give me hope (because I don’t know if you have found this, but the more people you talk to the more you find out that so many of us have a journey to pregnancy that isn’t smooth). I want to get this pain out of my chest so I can relax. I don’t want to be alone in my head with my sad thoughts. When I have talked about it though, I am left feeling exposed and I still feel isolated and alone anyway. And then at other times it is not up for discussion. I do not want to be reminded that we don’t have another baby. I don’t want to be reminded that my body is failing me for no apparent reason. I don’t want to say the words and put it out there for people to talk about. I don’t want sympathy. I know, confusing. My poor husband. My poor friends. I can be a royal pain in the derrière.
I think some people are just nosy. You know the acquaintances that don’t really care about you. The ones who are just looking for some gossip. Just want to be in the know. The ones who leave you feeling vulnerable if you have opened up and let them into your journey. In some ways I wonder if it would have been better to be subfertile or infertile in the UK circa 1920. I’m pretty sure the stiff British upper lip and social codes of that time would have meant no one would have asked about one’s fertility status. And anyway, infertility wasn’t such a problem then as it is now, so maybe I wouldn’t even have been infertile. But yet, here I am, blogging my heart out about our trials and tribulations. So perhaps this era is a great era for the infertile. A time where technology and medicine (Western and Complimentary) can combine to help many who can’t conceive naturally. A time where the internet is a place where people can anonymously seek support from those who understand, and blurt out their inner most thoughts and feelings without judgement, smug sympathy or well-intentioned but unhelpful and downright annoying advice.
Do you know where I am at with the whole should people ask others about their child bearing plans? Here goes …
Human nature means you are curious, so go on and ask me. I know you want to. But don’t expect a fluffy heart to heart with me. I may glare at you which pretty much gives you all the information you need. Back away. If you’re lucky, I will give you a little routine I have practiced in the mirror a million times for such an occasion. It goes like this: Tilt head to the side, give the shoulders a slight shrug and say with controlled voice, “Well you know, we would like to have more, but things haven’t gone to plan.” It’s another, more polite way of saying, you can know we haven’t been able to have another child but this topic is not up for further discussion.
I will choose who I talk to about this, when I want to talk about it, in the detail I want to talk in (DISCLAIMER: This does not apply to hubby or the couple of close girlfriends to whom different rules apply. Another blog). There will be very few people who get to know the details. I need to feel security, trust, understanding and an ability to be myself in a relationship if I am to talk to someone. Even my Mum doesn’t know the details, not because we don’t have those things, but because my hurt is her hurt, and I want to protect her from that. I understand the curiosity to know if we are going to expand our family, but most don’t need to know the inner workings of my mind or uterus. I will save that for you, dear reader. After all, you really are the best listener. Thank you.