I bought a journal to process this experience, but this morning it just doesn’t feel sufficient. I want to share my thoughts, my feelings, my remorseful time travel fantasies. I want to engage and I guess I want my feelings to be affirmed, recognized, supported by people who are going through the things I’m going through.
My husband and I are not sharing our treatment plan (impending IUI/Clomid/FSH shot) with anyone, except my best friend (who has somehow, miraculously managed to avoid ever saying the wrong thing, even in the moments when I was most vulnerable and susceptible to hearing insensitivity when it was not there).
It seems to me that a woman’s infertility, once it’s acknowledged and shared with anyone, somehow becomes public domain.
“Well, it looks like Lisa will be adopting. She decided IVF is not right for her.”
“Sharon chose eggs that have have similar Eastern European ancestry to her’s, so they’ll be more likely to look like her. Isn’t that wonderful?”
“Susan’s IVF worked! She’s pregnant!” [Then, two weeks later]: “I have bad news. It looks like she miscarried. I feel so terrible for her.”
And listen: these little clunky examples are not judgmental or horrible. The worst you could say of them is that they’re a little condescending, a little presumptuously over-sharey. They are kind of direct quotes from my mom, so that stands to reason, and it explains the consistency of their tone.
My mother is a kind and loving woman, dedicated to being a loyal friend and a genuinely good human being. In the above quotations, she is striving to prove that she finds nothing wrong with infertility. She wants me to know that there is nothing shameful or alienating about it, nothing that sets the sufferer apart from the fecund natural-conceivers of the world.
But this is not a post about my mom. It’s a post about the world at large, about all the people I’m not letting into my circle of trust. They protest too much. They won’t say that this sounds like a knife-to-the-belly nightmare. The horror of it is so foreign and appalling to them that they get chirpy and absurdly supportive to hide their true feelings. And we all know what their true feelings are, right? We came to terms with those feelings over the course of a few months, back when our own ubiquitous and mesmerizing “TTC Timeline” started.
I remember the moment it started for me: I was lying in bed early in the morning; my husband was in the shower and the realization that we might be facing a seriously real inability to conceive a baby…it was a full-body jolt. I honestly felt it like something heavy and malevolent had been dropped onto my torso. How could I go on if that was going to be the way of it? I seriously didn’t know. I was terrified.
The following months were really hard, and it’s been difficult all along, but the fact is that one cannot live one’s life in such abject, pounding panic. Panic is by its nature a temporary affliction, right? It attacks, like a solitary, nunchuk-wielding ninja, then vanishes, melting into the blackness. The reality of infertility is more like an occupying army. You know, there are longer lines for bread, and butter is scarce (not to mention eggs–amiright, ladies?)…there are definitely armed men in the streets, but it’s kind of incredible how quickly we grow accustomed to that particular menace.
For us, for the ones who live with the occupier, infertility is just our life now. But for the fertile people, for the ones who haven’t had to go through this, infertility will always be that fleeting fucking ninja. The bottom line is this: I don’t share the details of my infertility experience with people I know because when I do, the ninja drops down from the ceiling and bludgeons me anew.
Circumstances sort of forced me to tell my friend J about the treatments (I only said “we’re doing a full-on assault on my uterus,” implying it’s mainly drugs and not an actual fake insemination) and she was vaguely supportive, obviously aware that I didn’t want to get into details. And the conversation hopped quickly from the topic, but later I found myself thinking of it. I thought, J has two children who were easy for her to get. I thought, what would she think of our thousand-dollar output for this “baby”? I thought, she would think it sounds like being attacked by a motherfucking ninja. And suddenly I was back there, in my bed, feeling that first panic when I realized we were going to be infertile.
When I tell someone what’s going on with my uterus, I see this whole mess from their perspective and in the blink of an eye, the occupying army turns into a hostile-ruthless-ninja army. And I am assaulted anew by the flabberasting reality that my body is not the nurturing home I always thought it would be for my dreams, and my husband’s dreams.
And I am plunged into despair and anxiety and etc…
But it is the Internet Age, so I feel compelled to share the fact that this is happening to me. So I started a blog and here we are.
Now, my friend who is pregnant is bringing her fecund self and her bouncing towheaded cherub to visit me in my childless fur-caked home. She’ll be here soon. So I have to clean now.