Some could argue that in writing this Coming2Terms blog, I risk wholly or primarily defining myself as an “infertile woman.” My response is that society already does that work for us “infertiles.” We never had a choice in the matter. Day in, day out, we hear countless references from others that establish their “fertility” as a key component of their identity.
If I correctly recall a lesson from my marketing 101 course, the net effect is that one positions oneself by positioning the other guy (e.g., “There are credit cards. And there’s American Express.” Hmmm, which is supposed to be superior?).
Building upon this idea, MotherOfNone, shed further light on this when she commented on the What Would You Do entry:“Every day we live as IF women we are subjected to countless conversations about children starting school, taking first steps, the ‘clever’ things they say, the lessons they’re taking, etc. Folks need to understand these experiences are not universal. One day, I got stuck in perhaps the millionth such conversation. I turned to one of the parents, a friend, and said, ‘Infertile people are subject to this kind of conversation ten times a day.’ She looked horrified and guilty.”
Yes, the references to pregnancy and fertility come at us all day long — in the grocery store, the workplace, the airport, on television and in media of all kinds. If we matched these references example for example with references to our infertility, the fertile world would appreciate how discreet we are when it comes to not discussing the life-changing events going on in our world. Heck, infertility blogs aside (and our blogs are far outnumbered by Mommy blogs) there’s nary a peep from us. Out of curiosity I once tried to count how often I heard or read the expression “as a mom…” but the frequency made it far too hard to keep track. A recent Google News search of “as a mom” brought back nearly 200 articles in one month alone. One article used the description and its variant, “as a mother” three times.
Now granted it was an article about Juggling Parenthood and a Profession but the point stands. (It would be fun to do an Onion version: Juggling Infertility and a Profession, wouldn’t it?) The same news search for “as an infertile woman” brought back zero news articles. Now let’s take this a step further with a little word substitution from a sample of off-the-cuff comments I’ve heard in the last few days.
Before anyone starts protesting that we can’t go around censoring ourselves to the point of neutering our lives, the examples below simply make the point that there’s lots of fertility positioning going on…
I engage in lots of smiling and nodding when my fertile friends merrily make references to pregnancy and mommyhood, but my smiling is caused in part by the translations going on in my head. (You’ll find the key below).
Here are the conversations as I hear them:
- “Donuts? Don’t you know you should keep donuts away from an infertile woman — especially one getting hormone shots.”
- “So I’m talking to this other infertile woman about what kind of car makes sense…”
- “Should he leave his wife at home to travel, especially when she’s infertile?”
- “As an infertile woman, I believe it’s important that kids have good healthcare.”
- “Now that I’m infertile, I have so little time to read.”
Where you see infertile or infertile woman, the real words used were 1) pregnant 2) mom 3) pregnant 4) mom 5) a mom.
Care to play? Comment away with your favorite conversation translations.
Now what was that you were saying about me focusing too much on my lack of fertility?