Wispy clouds. Blue skies. Threatening gray. Streaks of sunlight. Gusty winds. Drizzle. Ominous clouds. Brilliant sunshine. Rain.
While I’m describing the fast-changing weather outside of London as I make my way to Heathrow to return to the former colonies – hopefully in time for the Independence Day fireworks tonight on the west coast – I could also be in transit in Infertility Land, no? They certainly share the same schizophrenic weather patterns.
(By the way, I love asking the Brits I’ve encountered here on business what their plans are for the Fourth of July. The confused and amused looks I get are priceless.)
Where was I? Oh right. Weather. On the ground in new places I pore over local reports and then take my temperature, so to speak. Catapulted out of my normal routine and suddenly caught up with all matter of distractions I tend to misplace the thoughts and reminders that come with navigating the familiar cul-de-sacs of Infertility Land. (It’s just as well as I usually don’t have any extra room in my luggage.)
So, heading homeward what’s my infertile forecast today? Mostly sunny, I would have to say.
But how long will that last the little devil on shoulder demands to know? I’m hoping for an extended run but weather changes in Infertility Land are precipitated mostly by unexpected disturbances such as (and please feel free to add your storm-inducers):
- Glowing pregnant women who appear unexpectantly seemingly from all sides (have you ever noticed that they seem to arrive one right after another almost as though they’re disembarking en masse from pregnancy island?)
- Encountering quintessential reminders of the infertility-induced empty nest – in the case of this weekend, the neighborhood holiday bike parade and ice cream social overflowing with proud parents and happy little faces.
- But perhaps the one that whips up hurricane force winds the fastest is getting the hurtful or ignorant comment that too often roll effortlessly off the tongues of those who know zip, nada, zilch about infertility. Makes me long for the days when it was considered ill-bred to share opinions without any basis in knowledge.
That brings me to another comment from a reader who asks what comforting (internal) words do I say to myself when I’m confronted with the outside world and its insensitivity?
Well, I don’t know if my inner voice goes for comfort so much as self protection. When a verbal weapon is fired in my direction my internal response — which is highly dependent on my hostility barometer — usually ranges from:
- These people are so pathetically dense they’re not worth my time and thought.
- What a pity these individuals could reproduce and pass along their insensitivity genes.
- Clearly I’ve evolved to perfection but they still have a very long way to go.
- Do they have any idea how hurtful they are? (And would their actions and behavior change if they knew they were inflicting hurt? Of course, I always hope the answer is yes, but sometimes I just don’t know).
Additional thoughts, anyone?
July 4, 2008 11:36 pm
The only thing that runs through my mind when someone says those unthinkable hurtful things is the saying “…and this too shall pass.” I try not to get choked up, and just ignore the comment and concentrate on what is happening next at that particular moment in time.
July 5, 2008 2:13 am
My internal dialogue consists of:
-Reminding myself that most people aren’t intentionally cruel, just ignorant about infertility.
-I am strong. Just look at everything I’ve been through (& am still going through). Cliche as it sounds, i’m finding there is truth to the saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, so i remind myself of this.
-Knowing I am not alone (thanks to Pamela Jeanne & the many other women bloggers, organizations like Resolve, etc.
-It also helps to remind myself that life is not fair & that everybody experiences or will experiences losses and devastation of some kind in their lives. So I guess realizing that I don’t have a monopoly on loss and pain(without minimizing the very real losses I have suffered) helps me to put things in perspective.
-Lastly, I try to remember that there is more than this, that I am more than infertility, that this is only one painful chapter of my life. I don’t know what all life will bring, but i do know this will recede at some point. This blog has helped me to know that. Thanks again Pamela Jeanne (can I abbreviate PJ?).
July 5, 2008 1:30 pm
I love your blog! Every time I read your posts I feel like you are reading my mind. It’s so good to know that others feel the way I feel.
July 6, 2008 12:25 am
I’m afraid my internal monologue is more like yours – I think nasty thoughts about them. I suppose Ania R’s suggestions are more productive.
July 6, 2008 3:25 am
I don’t think I have any words in particular that run through my head when confronted with difficult situations. Or maybe I do! My husband always tells me — when I get annoyed with colleagues or students — “That’s just them about them. It’s not about you.”
So that is the attitude I try to take –people say stupid things because they don’t know any better, or because they have inadequacies of some kind, etc. It’s not really about me. This allows me to separate myself effectively from crappiness. Though, to be fair, I haven’t found that people say things directly to me — and perhaps because I’ve been living my life as an infertile woman for so long, I don’t get upset anymore when I see pregnant women. I recognize that that is something outside of my experience, but then I move on forward. I figure, too, that there are plenty of things in my life that others will never be able to experience, so it evens out for me.
July 6, 2008 4:59 pm
I read your post today and I thought, ah, sometimes you read my mind. I just attended a one year old’s birthday/housewarming, (yeah, I drank a lot), and of course, I get asked – do you have kids – and I say, no and then internally I think don’t ask, don’t ask, don’t ask – and then I get up and go for more meatballs.
July 6, 2008 10:33 pm
I’m so on board with this post. I want to know why every one of my girlfriends gets pregnant within three months of going off BCPs. My BFF got pregnant her first month off the pill (and she was 35 at the time). I’d been prepping her for a year, telling her that getting pg is a long road and can require a lot of medical intervention. Then, of course, WHAM – it just happens for her. Grrrr. (Oh, and she called the day of my latest BFN to tell me she’s having a girl. Yippee!)
July 7, 2008 8:57 am
I wish that I could find some comforting mantra to repeat to myself whenever I am confronted by the ongoing insensitivity of the outside world. My interior monologue instead seems to twist between anger and self-pity: why can these people reproduce, when I can’t?
But I think Ania’s suggestions are far more productive – particularly that we are, all of us, more than our infertility.
I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to the UK, Pamela Jeanne, and think you summed up the weather here perfectly!
July 7, 2008 12:07 pm
thank you for this site.
July 7, 2008 3:43 pm
This is a hard time of year, as I have noticed that many, many women seem to conceive around the winter holidays – so yes, lots of ‘them’ waddling around. I also work in a library so I get to see all of the pregnant ones with their multiple toddlers come for books and programs. I’m kind and polite and charming to the little ones – and then when I go home, I need to sit in a dark room and stare at a wall for about an hour before I can function again.
July 7, 2008 9:42 pm
My internal comments range from “they mean well, they just don’t know any better” on a good day to “I may not be able to have any kids, but at least I don’t have to deal with YOUR rotten little brats” on a bad day.
It’s odd how the comments that hurt us the most coming from someone else can be comforting if coming from within. After 4 years, I still hold a grudge against the nurse who told me “if it’s not meant to be, it’s not meant to be” yet I use a similar phrase when I’m wallowing in self-pity and need to pick myself up off the floor and get on with life. Maybe I’m just warped. 🙂
July 7, 2008 10:05 pm
Thank you for this website. It is one of the best I have visited by FAR.
My reactions vary. I used to make excuses, but after how many years of marriage does, “We’ve only been married two years.”, “We’ve only been married three years.”, etc, work?!
I decided making excuses made me more uncomfortable than just saying we would like to have children.
Some people dig deeper, some don’t. When people are hurtful, I just say, “Well, we would like to have kids, but in life everyone doesn’t get what they want, when they want it.”
I have to say, I have been more rude. If people are being intentionally nosy or rude, sometimes it makes them realize it when they get a curt reply. Sometimes they don’t, but I feel a little better.
Pregnant bellies are hard for me. I have not been able to maintain a pregnancy very long. I have a HUGE problem hearing women complain about their pregnancy woes. I usually just excuse myself or get away somehow.
I guess there’s no one fix-all for how to handle these things. I just try to do the best I can at the time that something happens, and not be hard on myself for how I respond at any given time.
I also try to remind myself that everyone is living with something that’s hard for them to bear.
July 7, 2008 10:24 pm
You know, I used to say mean and witty things under my breath, but that just got my blood pressure up and didn’t do anything to really make ME feel better.
It’s taken me a long time to “Come to Terms”, but nowadays, I just have to realize that there are a bunch of stupid, WeMBI’s (Well Meaning, But Ignorant) around and they really don’t have a clue. Like Ania, I also realize that I am defined in more ways than my reproductive status. I used to feel worthless because I could not produce offspring, multiply & replenish the earth, but now I remind myself of all the other wonderful qualities about myself.
It does me no good to throw a pity party for myself because I end up feeling worse in the long run than if I had not just “dealt with the insensitivity and moved on”.
You gotta realize that most people are ignorant about infertility… really very ignorant.
I am glad I found this site. It’s wonderful!
July 7, 2008 10:29 pm
Despite the years of treatment, we never even got to see a double line on a peestick, so we never really had a loss (other than hope), so I sometimes tell myself that although I will never know the joys of parenthood, I will also never know the pain of parenthood either. I certainly don’t wish ill on anyone, but it’s a fact of life that no one escapes parenting unscathed. They will have worries and fears and sadness that I can’t even imagine. If I look at it as a trade off, I don’t feel so bad.
July 8, 2008 12:57 pm
I have a unique response to these kinds of questions. In fact, it is the same response I began giving before I knew that I was infertile…back in the days of taking birth control pills and thinking pregnancy was easy.
When people ask if I want to or plan to have kids I respond that I don’t know when or if that will happen, but until then I am sure enjoying having TONS of SEX! Usually they just stare at me a little shocked that I would even consider publicly speaking of sex (I even said this comment to my grandmother). Really, though…isn’t the question of when are you going to have kids directly related to (if you have NO issues with fertility) how frequent/how well timed your intercourse is?? Generally there are no follow up questions 🙂
July 8, 2008 3:49 pm
I try to remind myself that I have so much else in my life (a career I love, ideas that excite me, a passion for plants, a loving partner, an athletically inclined body, etc.). Also, that I am making many other things–things generally much harder to create than a fetus–in my life. I feel sorry for people whose only achievement was/is having children, whose only creation was procreation.
It sounds harsh, but that’s the way I feel.
July 10, 2008 9:48 pm
These comments are great advice. I’m glad I’m not alone. Thanks for taking time to discuss the monologues.
I have to share an ironic/ignorant experience I lived thru the other night… Here I am at a new summer workshop on how to break down ethnic and poverty walls in the classroom. Our first task was to introduce ourselves and share what’s important in our lives. I quickly noticed there were five of us gals who did not mention children in our lives (about 30% of the class.) Our second task was to take a quiz about our household and our social standing. This quiz was suppose to enlighten us. Out of 10 questions, half began- “Do you have discussions with your children about…?” All I could think about was how our three fertile instructors NEEDED more enlightenment than myself.
Don’t worry- It’s definitely coming up in class next week.
July 13, 2008 6:14 pm
Wow!? Seriously? Do please share the discussion as it relates to next week’s class … thanks for commenting and sharing this experience.