I've been thinking more and more about human behavior recently as Grey and I have begun sharing our news with others. So far, we've only been sharing with people who are on a need-to-know basis, either to update them about this recent news in our journey or for matters of employment, current as well as in the future. In general, the news has been received very well (though always with a moment of shock when the news of two instead of one is learned), but there's been something else that's been coming about that, though I was prepared for, I still find to be upsetting and a frustration. The feeling that somehow many are now viewing us as "cured" of infertility.
Jessah and Lisa both had posts recently that relate directly to this topic (if you haven't read them, please do as they really set the stage for what I'm trying to get at). Jessah's post is one that talks intimately about how isolating infertility and RPL are, with those we were once close to pulling away and excluding the ALIer. Every word of her post rang true, as I've also watched people I thought I could trust become silent or issue platitudes over the last 3 yrs. Lisa's post follows up with a problem stemming from this problem, where in a moment of excitement someone who clearly doesn't understand is carelessly sharing her news with the world. She talks about how frustrating it is to be in this situation, as she is incredibly mindful of how difficult the news of her pregnancy will be for those who are still in the trenches and even those who are healing from their infertility/loss scars. She ends by reflecting on her defensiveness to the comments of her boss. An exercise I've been trying to expand on too.
Tertia once wrote about how hard it is to be supportive of a friend or loved one who is living with infertility and loss. A post I've referred back to several times since we started this journey. But the frustration and sadness I've dealt with over the past few years regarding the absence of support and help as Grey and I have tried to navigate our way through treatments, loss and continual failure is something that's been difficult to swallow. In the end, we both made the decision that so many make while going through this process of keeping our sharing down to the basics and learning not to expect much from others. Mainly because they didn't know what to do, but also because we knew we scared them.
So you can begin to imagine what the response has been when people learn of our good news. All the sudden, those who were distant are actively trying to enter our lives, wanting to share in the excitement. Yet too often, this excitement is prefaced with people wanting to ignore the past, ignoring the scars that are still very visible. Worse yet are those who are quick to offer the "see, you just needed to do X" or "it all worked out for the best." Don't even get me started on the "G_d's will/plan" explanations.
Grey and I have been doing the best we can to counter a lot of this. Whenever we talk about this pregnancy, we've made sure to talk openly not only about our journey, but also about the friends we have who are either still in the trenches or have resolved in other ways. We've talked about how isolating all of this has been and how special these babies are. And this is normally when the discomfort flows back in. When I talk about my admiration for those who chose to live as a family of 2 instead of destroying themselves with unending treatment cycles, or those who have braved the adoption process and are parenting while including the birth parents or even those who are still on the treatment path, I always find those moments are met with body language that makes it clear they wish I would stop.
The thing is, I can't stop. I refuse to be one of those women who turns their back on this community solely because it's easier for loved ones. I refuse to perpetuate the myth that pregnancy will magically cure one of their infertility, making it all a bad dream. So I know, despite what others around me would like to see otherwise, that I need to keep talking and reaching out. But I also have realized that to do this, I need to better understand what exactly I'm dealing with.
Lori's post today, where she interviews Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, helped me begin to address what I've been witnessing over the past couple of weeks. If you haven't read it, please go do so. During the interview, there is a part where Pamela addresses why she, like so many of us, doesn't like to be pitied or to be demeaned.
Society doesn’t know what to do with “infertiles.” We make people – parents in particular – uncomfortable because they don’t want to consider a childless life. They view our lives as a rejection of theirs. Readers tell me the biggest challenge they face in moving on and finding a new normal is hearing from others “not to give up” on parenthood. It took me a long time to realize that after mourning my losses and setting aside one set of dreams, I hadn’t give up. I embraced something else.Pamela's response immediately reminded me of an encountered Grey and I had had over the summer with his aunt who had lived with infertility for 8 yrs prior to miraculously conceiving her son. Following her son's wedding, we briefly spoke, during which time she told me to "relax" and "it will eventually happen." The thing that struck me the most, other than to hear such comments from someone who believed she would never have children, was how she said it. As if she had somehow drunk the Kool-Aid and was passing on doctrine that others had beaten into her. It hasn't been until recently that I've realized that embracing this logic, even after suffering in silence for so many years, was a form of self-preservation. That to not do so would have been even more torturous as her community, her family wouldn't allow it.
So, once again I'm learning. I'm learning not only how to deliver our news to others but also how to educate in the process. I'm learning how to counter the myth that we are cured with the reality that we are still very much infertile. And I'm learning what it is that frightens people, why I make them uncomfortable and nervous as we talk about all of this.