It has been a well-kept secret that my husband and I cannot (apparently) have any more kids.
I say apparently because nothing has been confirmed beyond that we are both physically capable and healthy. It could just be a matter of timing that will work itself out eventually. And then again, we really could be one of those cases where after thirty things get really complicated in the baby-making department.
These questions would require a fertility specialist to answer, which we still haven’t come to terms with tackling. After three years of planning for the next one.
Nevertheless, as soon as we started revealing little bits and pieces of our well-guarded secret lives, it became overwhelmingly apparent to us just how uncomfortable our infertility issues make people.
There are several reasons why this could be the case.
It Could Be Because I Won’t Tolerate That Everything Happens For A Reason Bullshit
I get it: a lot of people are fatalists. They like to think that everything really does have a reason and a place, and that when bad things happen to good people it’s because God – or whatever they believe in – has a plan.
For a while, I bit my tongue when people said to me that everything happens for a reason, then always, without fail, managed to turn the conversation into being about their own philosophical constitution regarding God’s plan.
Then I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I didn’t get into an argument, or anything like that. I just thought that if I had to listen to some random, drunk family friend I have met twice ramble and stumble over his own feelings about God’s plan and how everything works out in the end; at the very least I could be a part of the conversation. For once. So I said my own belief: that my uterus is in no way a part of God’s plan. That God has more important things to worry about than knocking me up. The conversation ended around there.
Was it something I said?
Maybe It’s Because the More We Open Up, the More I Share
My sister in law just recently had a baby, and my husband’s cousin is now closing in on the final months of her fourth.
Babies and birth and afterbirth and breastfeeding and dropping the baby out your pee hole and episiotomies that cut all the way from the V to the P – and all these delightful topics of conversation – are dominating the convo these days.
So, naturally, as time went on and we were more open about these infertility issues, I figured that it fits in with the general topic of having babies. All the articles say that you feel less isolated if you talk about it anyway, so I thought I’d share some of my own anecdotes.
They went over like a lead balloon.
Apparently, it’s much less uncomfortable to discuss the look and feel of the mucous plug than to hear about the day I peed all over my hand while sleepily taking my ovulation predictor test one morning last month.
I thought it was funny.
I Guess It Could Be Because I’m A Jaded Bitch
I mean, I made this:
Go ahead and say it: everything happens for a reason, and the reason this whole infertility thing is happening is because I am a real asshole.
I’m Sure A Lot Of It Boils Down To Simply: People Don’t Know What To Say
There are a lot of situations in which people just don’t know what to say. At the news of the sudden death of a loved one by suicide. A divorce of two close friends. Hearing about a miscarriage. Infertility fits in there too – I think.
So I get it, people are uncomfortable because they just don’t know what to say. They don’t know if including you is going to hurt your feelings. Or, on the flip side, if excluding you is going to hurt your feelings. They don’t know if you want condolences or jokes (“you want more kids? Take mine!”) And I’m sure, on some level, it raises insecurities, past experiences, and fears within at least a fair amount of people. Sometimes it’s easier to just avoid the situation altogether.
I have read a lot of articles – countless articles – about what to say and what not to say to someone experiencing infertility issues. The end result of all of them – and I mean all of the articles – is this: you shouldn’t say a goddamned thing except for asking the question “is there anything I can do?”
That means no fatalistic comments about God’s plan.
That means no reminders to be grateful for the family we already have.
And it definitely means no unsolicited advice to just relax.
I have no idea if this fertility problem is an actual problem; and I also don’t know if we’ll ever find out. What I do know is that there are 6.7 million people in America right now facing the same thing. I can’t be the only one feeling like the elephant in the room.
Life is about sharing your experiences with others. Not all the experiences are positive, upbeat ones. But not all the trials and tribulations need to be swept under the rug either. Moreover, for some people, the only answer to the question “is there anything I can do?” is easy. Let me tell my stories about peeing on my hand during the ovulation prediction test; or about explaining to our 11 year old why she found a bowl of uncooked rice under our bed (according to Eastern medicine, it channels fertile chi – though we didn’t tell her that).
Amidst all the talk about mucous plugs and baby heads crowning, it seems an innocuous way to let me be included, and to make light of an otherwise shitty situation. But then I don’t know if people are going to be able to get over the uncomfortable feeling of hearing about our not-so-successful adventures in expanding our family. I’m not the one who is dealing with a friend or family member suffering from infertility. I’m just living it.