Friday, March 02, 2007

A Shallow Examination of the Not-Infertile Brain

Ivy at Our Forever Family posted an update yesterday about her wonderful family. She also mentioned the uterus transplantation surgery that is being researched right now and how the infertile woman in the scenario is labeled as "defective." I think Ivy's "rant" about the word choice is right on target- especially when she mentions that it's another example of how people outside of the Infertility Ring of Fire don't get it, and often choose to ignore the human aspect of it.

I have a guilty little secret. I go to babycenter at least once a day and read the message boards for "my birth club." I have to confess that I feel kind of like a cheater when I go there, or maybe like I have a big dorky nametag that identifies me as not a true member. I think I go to catch a glimpse of what the Fertile Brain is like; to see what blissful pregnancy is like. And that's not to say that I am not happy at the moment. Hell, I'm more overjoyed than I know what to do with, but it doesn't make me part of the club. And I'm ok with that.

Now I'm sure that pregnancy outside of infertility is not always a picnic, but to me and my brain, it is. I envision it as going through nine months of life through a soft focus lens, just a tiny bit in slow motion. Like the obligatory "happy memory" scene in every chick flick. The things that concern these women blow my mind- some are "going to be very pissed off" if their baby is born in June as opposed to May because June's birthstone is far uglier." They talk about having too many appointments, how they've seen their doctor so many times it's just ridiculous. They start threads asking how many people got pregnant while on birth control, or on the first try, and how many are having unplanned pregnancies? One in particular caught my attention the other day. Someone was asking for advice on how to deal with the strained relationship she has with her best friend, who has had a considerably hard time conceiving. She felt that they were drifting apart and was afraid to share any pregnancy/baby news with her for fear of making her angry/jealous/hurt. The responses were mostly pretty good advice, I thought (they were mostly prefaced with, "I've been in your friend's situation..."). Good little infertiles jumped in to share personal experiences. But what caught me off guard was to hear how many people responded with something like, "I'm in the same situation, I don't know how to talk to my best friend/SIL/girl at the office who can't conceive/just had a miscarriage, etc..." One response recalled that while she was pregnant with her first child, she had several infertile friends. She said that she lost a lot of friends during that time, but that you really find out who your true friends are- the ones that stick around.

That last comment really got me thinking. I think I've settled on "upsetting." It sounds like she's angry with her infertile friends for not "sticking around" during her perfect pregnancy. She can't think about what it must be like on the other side of the fence...or won't think about it, I'm not really sure. Is that the SuperFertile! brain? Do they think of us only as bitter, selfish bitches who can't be bothered to recognize the joy in anyone else's life? Are we just defective to them?

I think we represent something far bigger than they choose to process. Infertility isn't something that anyone wants to think about having to deal with, so it's easier to ignore it. That philosophy has never worked out well for me. Pretending that all the problems in the world don't exist isn't a valid way to eradicate them. Bad things and heartache don't dissolve into thin air because you can put heavy blinders on. I'm not hinting that we should all live in fear of the worst, constantly looking for the opposite of joy and happiness. But when it's presented to you, you can't just turn around and decide that you've escaped it. So, SuperFertile! Lady, I'm sorry that your infertile friends had a hard time with your pregnancy. I'm sorry dealing with them might have made both of you uncomfortable. I'm sorry that you chose to let friendships fall apart because it was the easier path to take.

I'm mostly sorry that infertility has to be such a hard thing to actively talk about. I'm sorry that people would rather see it as purely clinical. I'm sorry that it can be easily ignored by people who don't consider themselves to be directly affected by it. I'm sorry that it has to be so damn hard. Communication and better understanding has to be a priortity, although I'm not exactly sure how to get that ball rolling...


aah0424 said...

I think many of these people that act like this are just shallow or self centered or both. I have a few friends that haven't experienced infertility, but they are just great human beings. They have compassion and understanding for situations they may not know about first hand. Those are the people I'm thankful for. Then I have at least 2 friends that don't get it at all and continue to be insensitive and selfish when it comes to my situation. When I think about other aspects of their lives though they are like that as well. It really has less to do with infertility and more to do with their inability to look outside of their little bubble!

I do know what you mean though that there needs to be more communication and I'm trying to get my story out there. The only thing is that no amount of communications is going to change people that live their lives with blinders on like I suspect many of the ladies you are refering to do!

Great post by the way!

The Town Criers said...

I think Amy said it well. Some people can't see past the tip of their nose. And others can sympathize or be sensitive even if the situation is completely foreign to their own experience. I think the mentality that infertility isn't a disease since it doesn't kill you (even though it is classified as a disease) leads this mindset. If you've had an easy time conceiving, you don't realize what it feels like when you can't. I'm constantly amazed when I hear how fertile friends look at infertility. And it's usually pretty hurtful.

The Road Less Travelled said...

I'm always suprised that with infertility you're expected to get over it and accept it quickly. I'm not suppose to be sad about my short lived pregnancy anymore. I'm not suppose to be scared that it might be my only one. You wouldn't say such things to anyone else suffering with another medical problem. The worst is the belief that it was meant to be. I get that a lot being single, but even if I were in a relationship, it would irritate me just as much. My friends who worked in OBS/GYNE seem to be the most sensitive to the situation. My other friends, especially the ones that have chosen to be childless or fell pregnant quite easily are not quite as sensitive, to put it politely.

TeamWinks said...

I do think perceptions are skewed about infertility. It's misunderstood and its consequences brushed over. I think people just don't think about it unless it affects them. It's the same reason people can overlooking major issues abroad. It just doesn't affect them personally.

I do believe a lot of people view me as bitter, but I try to put such a brave face on to not let them see my hurt. I wish I didn't have to.