So, 300 people and counting have looked at this blog since I posted the last post, and a good third of those came from various feed readers/rss feed aggregators/whatever the hell you like to call yours, so really meant to look at this blog. And the 7 people (so far) who have commented are all stalwart regulars, none of whom, no, not one of whom, bounced idyllicly into pregnancy and baby-wrangling with nary a pang or tremor.
It took me two hours to write that post, trying to work out how to say what I felt without vapouring, incoherence, ranting or uncalled-for snark. I did really want to know, for example, whether Fertile People do read this blog, and whether it has changed their minds or attitudes (for better or worse) about us Infertiles. Or do they read it in the cheerfully idling manner of someone enjoying a good ol’ car-crash dust-up on F*ckB**k?
I mean, hell, I read ‘Mummy’ blogs all the time (usually because the writer makes me laugh like Brian Blessed on helium). And it helps me remember parents are human and complicated and Baby does not equal Future of Nothing But Dancing Unicorns And Rainbows. It – ahh, naturally – both defuses the Envy and increases it. It seems kids, by and large, are worth it even when they are lying on the floor in Sainsburys, pulling glass jars on top of themselves and making a noise like a dentist’s drill in a steel plate.
There are even (!) points of comparison. Take the judging thing – many parent bloggers have at least a few little vents about feeling and indeed being judged over the parenting. It hurts, to be doing your best and damndest, and yet still have family/friends/random passers-by carp and snit at you, or dismiss your concerns and difficulties. Especially when your beloved tot is behaving like a psychotic bull elephant and everyone thinks it’s YOU and you know it’s actually A REAL PROBLEM. Especially when you’ve just got your child to eat something other than strawberry yoghurt and Auntie Whatsit gives you a lecture on feeding the child a variety of foods and not being a lazy mother who can’t be bothered to cook. And so on.
Similarly, we infertile people are all doing our own best and damndest to build our families, and it really hurts to have family/friends/random passers-by carp and snit at us. Or dismiss our pain and struggles. Especially when we’ve just lost another baby/failed another IVF/been given a horrible diagnosis.
Sometimes, when I am mellow and feeling particularly fond of all the human race, I don’t blame fertile people for not really knowing what to say or what to think or how to deal with it all. Culture, media, films, books, magazine articles, TV programmes, insist on showing infertile women or women who have lost babies as neurotic, unpleasant to be around, horrible tetchy wives, too tense and uptight to be able to get or stay pregnant, self-sabotaging, self-defeating, undeserving, impatient, hypochondriac. We’ve done something dangerous, had ‘too much fun’ as young women, been career-women ball-breakers and neglected our biological clocks, unable to get a man, ‘resorting’ to ART when shagging strangers in cars fails, driving our husbands into the arms of other, younger, more fertile women, or trying to steal younger, more fertile women’s husbands. When we feature in a film or novel it’s usually as an insane and broken baby-stealer or as so delusional we’re pretending that a doll, a cat, a puppy is really our child. And infertile/bereaved men? Either don’t exist at all, or only exist as the reason why their partner has lost her mind. Their stories and feelings pretty much never get a look in.
Given all that, how is a fertile person supposed to deal with their sister, brother, daughter, son, cousin, friend, especially when she or he suddenly acts weird about holding newborns and bursts into tears when a pregnancy is announced?
Compassion, a simple ‘I’m sorry,’ can seem, to some, inadequate, and therefore the Wrong Thing To Say (it’s almost never the wrong thing to say, really). To others, compassion is too risky, because admitting this IS a shitty situation can seem too like opening the floodgates to a full-on Attack of the Psycho Infertile. (I hereby promise we none of us will steal your baby or your spouse just because you acknowledged that infertility and loss are very painful). However, if we are calm, mostly, and haven’t chased a pram down the street screaming ‘Gimme!’ lately, fertile people can lose track of just how much we’re struggling, and assume everything is OK and we don’t want a baby that badly, and act accordingly. Which can hurt us very much too. And then, there’s the infamous pregnancy announcement or Christening or nosy question at Easter dinner, and an outburst of pain, and people think we ARE psycho all over again.
And the advice! The ‘just relaxes’ and ‘go on holiday!’ and ‘forget about it, and then you’ll get pregnant’ (I did that one Christmas. It… ended badly) and ‘eat pineapple/cough medicine/raw fish’ and ‘are you doing it right?’ and ‘maybe you’re just not meant to be parents’. All things that seem to be based on this image of Infertile as Too Neurotic To Get Pregnant. Which hurts, the assumption hurts, the ignorance hurts, the facile dismissal of real pain and grief hurts.
Almost worse, the kind souls who, while juggling their newborn and their toddler on their knees and keeping an eye on the six-year-old on the swings, tell us, so earnestly, that everything will be fine, and we’ll be pregnant by Christmas, they just KNOW it. Whose pain does this platitude ease? Theirs? No doubt. It’s so nice and easy to wish good things for those you care about. Especially when making the good things happen is none of your business and not your problem. I do it all the time, myself, in the privacy of my own head. Does it ease the pain of us infertiles to hear it? Actually, it stings. It angers us. It’s a denial of the horrible truth we’re living, that there may never be a child. That we could be going through this for nothing. That nothing we or anyone could do would help in the end. And no one will acknowledge this horror, and no one will sit with us while we deal with it. Just empty promises they have no way of keeping and no intention of doing anything about, and we’re supposed to be comforted and gladdened.
So really, are any fertile people reading this? Who have read this far?
Have I really pissed people off now?