I read a post today called Infertility and fertile friends that spoke volumes to me. The post by B includes a metaphor that clubbed me over the head. About her fertile friends she wrote: “I feel your life as the photo of my negative. What is a baby in your arms is a dark hole in the negative. What is a
pregnant belly in your photo is deep blackness in my image.” Powerful visual isn’t it? You should read the whole post. It brought tears to my eyes.
While I’ve made good progress accepting and more recently celebrating pregnancies that come to those who’ve faced the indignities of vaginal ultrasounds, sperm count samples and hormone injections, I’ve come to realize that I have a different filter for those who experience pregnancy spontaneously and then immerse themselves in their mommy and daddy roles.
A few months back I wrote about lunching with a friend who breastfed throughout the meal and how excruciating it was to witness such an intense mother/newborn bonding experience. I’ll elaborate further. Silly girl that I am, years ago — before I knew better — I tagged this friend as my future pregnancy pal. In my fantasy world, we’d try on maternity clothes together. Lament about losing our trim figures and dish about how our husbands just don’t “get” hormone swings. Our babies would roll around and coo together and we’d share diaper disasters and teething strategies.
Not to be. Her third (!!!) pregnancy really got under my skin. First, it was completely unexpected. Second, she had quite a few misgivings about the impending birth. You see she was looking forward to getting her life back, after tackling what she thought would be her last potty training boot camp. She and her husband had just weeks before the two pink lines materialized cleared the house of all the infant clothes and paraphenalia. “Now, can you believe it,” she asked fighting her own disbelief, “I’m pregnant again?”
The little devil on my shoulder started jumping up and down yelling: “Save it for the mommy and me play dates crowd. I don’t want to hear about it.”
The little angel is saying, “Come on, she’s your friend. She feels this is going to tie her down for another few years until the baby is talking and walking.”
Devil: Tough luck. Like your life wasn’t turned inside out and upside down?
Angel: Well, at least I can drink copious amounts of alcohol (In fact I ordered a drink right then and there in the restaurant).
Devil: She acts like you should be “over” your infertility
Angel: Well, I’m not and maybe we just need some time apart. I’m not really up for competing with a newborn and two kids under five for her attention. And it’s not like she’s going to have any time for me anyway…
Clearly my future pregnancy pal fantasy will always be just that, a fantasy. B helped me see that her life is the photo of my negative, and like B, I find it very hard to know how to relate to my friend anymore.
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Yesterday the angel and devil made another brief appearance. One of my colleagues, A, whose pregnancy resulted almost immediately after I introduced her to my acupuncturist, delivered her second child. The birth was trumpeted via email to the general department with the subject line “She’s Here!” (Four of these gushing emails in a row is getting to be a bit much. Can they just take me off the damned alias?)
So I’m in the middle of serious business discussion with a male colleague who works closely with A when a visitor who’s just heard about A’s delivery interrupts our conversation to express his joy — and I mean he was over the top. He searches for the right word to describe this “glorious” event, “how thrilling, how wonderful, how, well it’s about the most important thing there is, isn’t it?” he asks.
Devil: Take it somewhere else buddy! Can’t you see we’re busy here?
Angel: Come on, he doesn’t know you had seven beautiful embryos that didn’t make it.
Devil: I said, TAKE IT SOMEWHERE ELSE!
Angel: Uh, well, can I get you a drink?