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.
* * * * *
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?
August 11, 2007 8:27 pm
WOW, WOW, WOW! Thank you for exposing your thoughts/feelings to me and sharing other great blogs. Both of the messages speak to me. More deeply then I allow myself to type/write about. Thank you for your constant wisdom
August 11, 2007 11:55 pm
At times like that I just lost it and screamed; ‘Ok you buttmunch, I am sitting here not pregnant after trying for about half my freakin life and there are zillions of flea brains out there knocking them out left and right. Tone it down before I have to kill you”. I don’t think that I ever really said it out loud, but in my state of mind at the time, you never know.
August 12, 2007 1:46 am
Oh So perfectly written! I have had those moments myself.
Here’s a little story: My good friend decided to start ttc. She thought it might take a while since her body was freaking weird before the pill. She begins to try. I give her tips, whatever. Finally one day she says her side hurts. I say, “Oh you are Oing. Go home and dtd.” She was like, “whatever.” Guess what, she gets pregnant because I told her to go home and have freaking sex. YEP it is my fault. She lets me know at a bar at happy hour. She shares her news and I turn around and holler for another drink.
It never gets easier. Just drink up! HUGS!
August 12, 2007 4:50 am
I find myself agreeing with the devil character. Does that make me bad?
August 12, 2007 1:07 pm
Thanks for sharing these stories. I can completely relate. I love the devil and angel – it’s like you know the thoughts going on in my head each time I hear another pregnancy announcement.
August 12, 2007 6:29 pm
It sounds like a very tough few days. I am so sorry about the pregnancy pal, those announcements seem to be the hardest to handle and the fact that she is ambivalent is a killer. I would also have ordered a drink.
Thank you for your lovely comment when I wrote my miserable prune of spite post. You are an inspiration and I feel so far from someone who has been able to be stronger than infertility but I always come to your blog looking for advice on how to cope with grace and I always find it.
Things are going better, due to factors entirely out of my hands. The theme of your week seems to be continuing.
August 12, 2007 10:23 pm
Drinks on me….and yea, I relate more to the devil here–is that terrible?=)
August 13, 2007 2:36 am
“I’ll take a gin and tonic!” As I sit with you in understanding.
Get it, I do. It still hurts doesn’t it? Will write about this subject when the mood strikes. It is a difficult one.
August 13, 2007 3:06 pm
Being a supportive friend, co-worker, whatever has got to be darn tough when it seems like the world is reminding you of what you didn’t get to experience. Without that devil, you’d be a seriously boring and saccharine person. One thing about saccharine, it’s just too sweet to be the real thing!
August 13, 2007 8:35 pm
What an honest post, and one that we can all identify with. Well done, and very courageous.
August 13, 2007 9:15 pm
Thank you for putting your angel in my team atm!
August 13, 2007 9:49 pm
I hear ya! Lord help the next “oops” either of my sisters have! I think it will take more than angel on my shoulder to keep me calm ;0
August 14, 2007 1:39 am
Thanks for coming past and wishing me well PJ even when I know how hard it must be for you. You are an inspiration. I realise I still have that devil on my shoulder sometimes, I don’t think it ever really leaves. Lovely post.
August 14, 2007 4:45 am
I saw a short film on the weekend called, “Dreams of Conception”. The main character takes charge/ownership of a turtle coming out of the sea. Then her sister appears and walks off with it. At the end, it is explained that this is a “Dream of Conception” (according to Korean mythology). The main character miscarried, and her sister gave birth to a healthy baby.
It’s hard not to think of it as the negative sometimes, showing up what we don’t have. Somehow, fertile people don’t get this. Perhaps it causes them too much guilt.
August 14, 2007 7:17 pm
Sort of makes me wonder how many other angels and devils there are out there. Like when hubby and I occasionally gush about our vacation to Germ/Austria last year, the devils on some people’s shoulders are saying, “Bitch, I couldn’t give a crap that you have enough money to take such cool trips.” I guess you just never know who your audience is. (I think I’ll always be bitter when someone mentions she was in a sorority in college; I desperately wanted to be in one, and all my friends got in while I didn’t.)
August 14, 2007 8:51 pm
You are correct, that negative-photograph metaphor is very powerful. I LOVE the angel – devil conversations. LOL at “can I get you a drink?” Brilliant as aways.
August 15, 2007 5:40 am
Just wanted to thank you for your continued support. I agree with many that you are such an amazing women after all you’ve been through and still struggling with, that you continue to give us all so much love and support. I’ve had many of those conversations in my head too. Sorry you still have to deal with such insensitive fertiles.
August 19, 2007 9:15 am
My sister’s youngest boy was an oops, and then she spent months crying about the fact that he turned out to be a boy and not a girl. You can imagine how I felt, and I wasn’t able to say one single word about 🙂