Envy and Equanimity


Some remarkable milestones to report:

1) I was pea green with envy yesterday, but not for the usual reason (that’s right folks, pregnancy was not involved!) ….

2) A new work acquaintance asked me if I had children and my first instinct was not to throw something at him.

I think both episodes show signs of progress, yes? Okay, the details.

I’ve been working a few days a week at a really interesting startup where the only downside is that it requires 60-90 minutes of drive time each way. Since I abhor long, slow commutes I try to distract myself with NPR stories. Yesterday’s feature had me wrestling with the ugly green monster.

Why? The guest was a new author talking about her book chronicling her experience, at 37, to freeze her eggs.  Ah, you say, you envy her the access to a new, promising reproductive technology? No actually, I envied her the slot she scored on NPR’s Talk of the Nation discussing her new book.

I laughed at the realization that I’d graduated from pregnancy envy to book envy. In each case I have had to work harder to get fewer results. You’ve got to admit the parallels are ironic. First, I couldn’t get pregnant while doing everything required and then some while everyone around me was getting knocked up right and left. And, now, at a time when I finally delivered my book about the hidden tolls of living in an era of designer babies and clinics marketing fertility for all, I’m reminded again that mainstream media has a fascination with making babies, but they’re less interested in what happens when all the whiz bang technology doesn’t deliver on its promise.

See also  Trying to Capture the Experience In a Different Form

rodneyAh well, I’m getting very comfortable being the Rodney Dangerfield of reproductive technology outcomes (and books about them).

Now, for item numero dos. For years I avoided any and all social and work situations that might land me in the middle of small talk with new people. I was expert at the handshake and run. It was my way of self protection and a sure fire means of avoiding the evitable question about whether I had children.  Yesterday I not only got the question, I answered it without my usual indignation at getting the query; it was completely in context (we were discussing dosing of medications from a pediatrician’s point of view). I answered it without feeling any malice whatsoever toward the man and continued with the conversation about the delicate nature of new drug therapies.

Now, if only I could get NPR to ask me about my experience not getting pregnant…


12 Responses

  1. the misfit

    May 13, 2009 5:10 pm

    NPR should be so lucky. I’m sure you can persuade them though! Doesn’t that sound like their thing? Interesting, intellectual take on mainstreamed problem? No?

    I do find that I feel most personally victorious when I can finesse an Inevitable Question so that no one is invading my privacy and no one (including me) is upset or offended. I run through all these shockingly hostile scenarios over and over in my mind (psychoanalysis needed here except a little too obvious), but in real life, they’re usually not that dramatic, and I can usually defuse them. It is satisfying to score off someone for being a real jerk sometimes, but unless they are hostile, I think you get maximum points for getting to walk out of a conversation feeling normal and adult – just another person with another set of medical issues and complicated life plans. Because we all do. If only it were that simple in my head…

  2. Ellen K

    May 13, 2009 6:19 pm

    I wish I had some NPR connections and could get you a slot. I’m really enjoying your book.

    To make it worse, this is at least the second NPR story reporting on/promoting egg freezing in the past few years. Several unmarried friends emailed me after the first one, all in a panic, wondering whether they should do this. Personally, I think we need to hear more from NPR on asshat commitment-phobic men who suddenly decide they want a family, dump their mid-30-something girlfriends, and within 2 years are parading down the street with a much younger woman and an expensive stroller, their silver hair glinting smugly in the sunlight.

  3. jill

    May 13, 2009 7:54 pm

    Definitely good signs of progress 🙂 I wish you lots of luck in getting your book recognized.

    Whenever someone asks me if I have any kids, instead of wanting to punch or yell at them, I have the uncontrollable urge to make them think I have no interest in children or the thought of having my own. I go so far as to bring up bad points of having kids – “why would I want to do that to myself?!”. It’s weird to hear myself say it, at the same time knowing I want them so badly.

  4. loribeth

    May 13, 2009 8:10 pm

    ROFL at you for “book envy”, & also at Ellen — she is totally right. It takes two to tango, & in my years lurking around the childless/free not by choice cyberworld, I’ve encountered more than a few women whose husbands either (a) seemed receptive to having children at first & then later reneged, &/or (b) already had families from a previous relationship & were emphatically not interested in having more children. The women then had to decide whether to stay with the guy or not.

    I don’t think I can get NPR here, but hopefully if you’re ever on there, I will be able to listen in over the Internet!

  5. luna

    May 14, 2009 2:44 am

    I don’t blame you for the book envy. but like lori, I believe your soft smooth voice will soon by on NPR. maybe not oprah, but NPR yes.

    and hell, my eggs apparently weren’t worth freezing at 37…

  6. waterbishop

    May 14, 2009 2:56 pm

    Envy. I am envious for you.
    Perhaps someone should anonymously send a link to your blog? 😉

  7. Rachel

    May 14, 2009 11:04 pm

    Sigh. It’s just so awfully true. People *don’t* want to know about this. Or talk much about it.

    Even those who do are sometimes spewing a lot of misinformation. I read an article in the NYT (2007) written by a very well-known author in the ART world. Couldn’t believe some of the stuff I read. And it made me think of you, actually. I was like, how come people who have some real input aren’t getting a wider audience? It’s like they want to rehash the same stuff over and over.

    The truth is hard to swallow, I guess.

    And I would also really like to stop seeing so many stories about women over 35 that either get pregnant, or have eggs good enough to freeze, blah, blah… stop perpetuating the myths, for god sake! Okay, maybe not myths, but the odds are so seriously against most women above 37/38.

    And yeah, NPR would be lucky to have ya’.

  8. Irish Girl

    May 18, 2009 3:33 pm

    It looks like I’m finally going to have time to sit down with your book this week — no house guests, and a few days off. The little bit that I’ve peeked at so far assures me that you’ll soon be speaking to world (whether it be NPR or Oprah or Ellen or whomever). And I’ll be there cheering you on!

  9. Jeanne

    June 12, 2009 5:11 am

    Hey Rodney… uh, I mean Pamela,

    Have you tried writing NPR and asking them to feature you (turning on all of your marketing charm when you ask)?

    If you start quoting the prevalence of infertility and they do the math (realizing how much of their audience might truly appreciate them having you on), maybe you would have a shot?

    It can’t hurt to ask, right?


    P.S. I hope you are having a lovely trip, birthday girl!

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