Resolve To Let People Know More – Infertile On Board

In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, April 20 – April 26, 2014, my post,

INFERTILE ON BOARD

It’s no secret in the infertile community. The general public has at least a few marathons to run to get itself into shape on the subject of infertility. That is why I’ve been emboldened by the work I see from our community lately. From this year’s advocacy day coming up on May 7th to articles on infertility in major newspapers, the efforts that people are making on a grand public scale are slowly but surely making a difference.

There is something else that we ALL can do, each and every one of us, even those of us who can’t always be directly involved with the aforementioned crucial work for our community. It is something we can all do any time to effect change on the current state of misinformation and insensitivity held by the public on the disease of infertility. We can all speak up in our “ordinary” life moments, resolving to let people know more.

In my early days as infertile, one of the first things I noticed as infertility began to tighten its grip was that there was really no space held by the outside world for the experience. Claustrophobic by nature, I was plagued with the question “How am I going to live authentically in a world in which there is no space for me?”

The more I started opening my mouth and speaking out the more I started to realize – it was often painfully clear the novice with whom I was conversing was likely talking about infertility, with a real live infertile nonetheless, for the first time. I was puzzled by this, given the fact that what was happening to me was hardly uncommon (infertility effects approximately one in eight couples). The myths, lack of understanding, and cluelessness towards the struggle and depth of loss stunned me to the point of making my head spin, especially considering infertility is not the result of anything I ever did wrong. It is not the result of anything I ever did or didn’t do or didn’t do enough of PERIOD. “Now I know how people who knew the world was really round felt walking amongst those who continued to insist it was flat!”, I’d tell my husband. “We infertiles are in this world as a statistic”, I’d ponder, “but we’re not yet really in it as living breathing feeling human beings.”

In everyday conversation as well as in the landscape of daily life infertility awareness seems to be on an extended coffee break. It is in this very space where infertile myths are perpetuated, and where the trauma, grief and loss brought on by infertility all too often gets dismissed. Why not tackle the problem at one of its main sources, where the spark is most potent? If more of us spoke up, if more of us where forthright about this disease of infertility we did nothing to procure and its devastating life side effects, what positive social change might take place?

With the spirit of “to each his/her own” as the presumed backdrop, here are some musings on how we infertiles can expand our space in this world. Sometimes the greatest changes are forged with baby steps. (Oh, the tragic irony!).

What if more of us started responding to people who go on about their pregnancies, unaware that hearing about them can be an excruciatingly traumatic experience for some, with something like “My third IVF failed three weeks ago. While I certainly don’t wish you anything bad, I really don’t need to hear about that right now.”

Although my husband was initially hesitant about me freely divulging the amount of money we spent on fertility treatments and other failed holistic measures, I decided it was worth the minor risk. In a world rife with angst over the price of diapers and the burden of college tuition, surely room can be made in conversation for the misfortune of the $77,000 my husband and I spent on NOT getting pregnant.

It is often not in our best interest to attend baby showers and even other social gatherings that have the potential to be loaded emotional landmines. (Thank you, Captain Obvious). What if we more habitually responded with an honest “I really appreciate the invite, but with all we’re going through with our infertility the situation will be too painful for us right now.” Possibly followed by “Although I can’t tell you when our response will be different, any future efforts to include us would mean a lot.”

How about “That’s scientifically unfounded” or “That’s not true” as consistent responses to the groovy infertility myths we get unabashedly pelted with? Now, one may not care to go to the extreme of pointing out, upon being told to “just relax”, that attributing infertility to stress is just another cheap and easy way to blame the victim. Those dalliances can be saved for those of us who are prone to (all too frequent) bouts of orneriness (a-hem). Point being that simple and uncharged can be highly effective.

It brings Eleanor Roosevelt’s tried and true “You must do the thing you think you cannot do” wisdom to a whole other level, doesn’t it? But what if there could come a day when these responses and conversation topics were actually socially acceptable? Where instead of being tied up with how to hide and avert life we could funnel our precious energy into garnering well deserved support and caring for our battle weary selves? It’s an idea that cannot come to fruition unless we start to speak and act, resolving to let people know more.

The yoga practitioner in me seeks balance through opposition. When to stay silent and when to hold back is just as important of an inquiry as is how and when to speak and act. In reality, there are many situations where we could harm ourselves more by speaking. Each individual needs to be mindful of what those are for them. From social complications in the workplace, the fallout of which would take too much energy to handle, to strained family relationships we’re not ready to deal with, potential ramifications always need to be considered before pulling the trigger. Sometimes simply sitting in a tough moment awash with our cyclone of emotions is job enough for our neurotransmitters, thus pushing ourselves to do more can be unreasonable.  Those of us who pursue medical treatment need to give ourselves leeway when we’re too psychologically altered by fertility drugs to respond to emotionally brutal situations with the necessary degree of rationality. And then there are those times when we’re just not up for hearing it. When I can vividly see the headline “Infertile blasted to smithereens by her own volatility, suspect who told her to relax and take a vacation will not be charged….” in my future, I back off. The intentions of self compassion and self protection need to be in place, and the principle of “what is going to serve me best now?” needs to be given its due attention before we speak and act.

In the world we infertiles are everywhere, so why not put ourselves everywhere in the world? I used to get so disheartened driving around suburban Long Island. My eyes would always catch the advertisements of people’s familial statuses, white stick figured and otherwise, on the backs of cars, especially in all of my harsh moments. And then one day it dawned on me, I work just as hard as an any average parent, not to mention I suffer a lot more. I deserve a sign. So I special ordered one.

 

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Oh, yes I did. Please don’t think that has been ANYWHERE but on the back of my car since I purchased my sign in May of 2013. No one has ever commented on it, but I know it’s there. And if it makes one or two people do a double take and go “hmmm” every day, then it’s doing its job. There are situations and circumstances where it is in one’s best self-interest to stay under cover. The perpetual suppression of one’s truth, however, has an effect on the human spirit that is profoundly un-nurturing. I am here, after all. We all are. All 7.3 million of us. But the world won’t know unless we keep saying so, resolving to let people know more, in venues both big and small.

 

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Just another regular day at Whole Foods. If you look closely you can see my sign holding its own against one of its fertile counterparts.

 

Click on http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 for basic information on the disease of infertility.

Click on http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html to learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week.

 

As almost always, I leave you with a sauwong (that’s Long Islandese for “song”) that I feel reflects the theme of my post, by my favorite band Rush.

 

CLOSER TO THE HEART

And the men who hold high places

Must be the ones who start

To mold a new reality

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart

 

The blacksmith and the artist

Reflect it in their art

They forge their creativity

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart

 

Philosophers and ploughmen

Each must know his part

To sow a new mentality

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart

 

You can be the captain

And I will draw the chart

Sailing into destiny

Closer to the heart

Closer to the heart

Ad for M Day cards and my response

I like randomly inserting myself into fertile world conversations.  I was at first tempted to not take this ad too seriously.  It’s an American Greetings Mother’s Day card ad, so the fact that it’s completely barfy goes without saying.  However, I strongly object to the “being a Mom is the TOUGHEST job on the planet” nonsense, so that in and of itself is worth sounding off on.  More importantly, I then noticed that there was no representation of the infertile perspective in any of the comments.  “Well, THAT just won’t do”, I thought as I decided to add my two cents.  Better to be there than not there, right?  There were comments from mothers, people who hate their mothers, people who lost their mothers, comments from every side of the Dad perspective, I think even a few animals chimed in.  Mothers of dogs, mothers whose dogs lost their mothers………

 

Take a look.  My comment is in there under Sarah C.

http://sftimes.co/?id=493&src=share_fb_new_493

Ok, now so what I love is that, aside from the one comment I got, my comment was just ignored while people continued going back and forth about the whole ordinary Mom vs Dad thing.  I entered the conversation a bit late, but still.

Oh, and then I love how the one response I got, though totally decent enough is like “my problem is I’ve been in bad relationships”.  Yeah, you know, cuz just like bad relationships infertility results from poor uninformed choices and from being brainwashed.  I can break up with my infertility, really?  Why I had NO idea!!

Some of the comments are interesting, especially those from people who have OTHER tough jobs.  Looks like you don’t have to be infertile to find this ad offensive, or at least obnoxiously exclusive.

I just find the whole dynamic (or lack thereof) pretty damn funny.

 

 

Here’s my response in case you couldn’t find it combing through:

I am an infertility survivor with no children. My husband and I have just gone through three years and eight months of trying to conceive that entailed one surgery and ten failed fertility treatments, all at an out of pocket cost of $77,000. Our medical case unfolded in such a way that it made sense for us to continue for as long as we did. We are currently too depleted on EVERY level to pursue adoption.

Let’s get a few things straight. First, I understand that this is merely a card commercial, the first of many that I’ll be bombarded with during this season that is so painful for the infertile community. I take it for what it is, my response is more directed towards the other responses.

Second, for those who lost their mothers or who were abused by theirs, I’m truly sorry for all of your losses.

And third, even after everything I’ve been through I still believe that being a parent (Mom or Dad) is a tough job. I have no trouble appreciating my mother. In addition to being a great mother, she has also been my biggest support and cheerleader throughout our battle with infertility.

Now, to those who want to make the claim that being a mom is “the toughest job on the planet”, have you given ANY thought at all to how excruciating it would be to be denied the privelege? How about trading the cruel hardships of interrupted sleep, trips to the bathroom, and showers you describe for the depletion of your bank account (since most health insurance doesn’t cover the medical issue of infertility), which will pay for countless fertility drugs with debilitating side effects, endless objects rammed up inside of you, infinite needles and visits to the doctor, waiting, confusion, and perpetual grief, trauma and loss that turns upside down and devastates many aspects of your life? Any takers? Oh and don’t forget, you’ll have to give up your child/children and all that goes along with them in order to do it – the love, the relationship, the genetic connection to the combination of you and your beloved, family holidays, birthdays, all future milestones, every moment that you’ll teach, share and impart something important to your child – you have to give all that up in order to get your sleep and bathroom privacy back. Aaaahhhhh, “fertile world problems”.

And to those who “want acknowledgement” for the nurturing of the greatest gift of your life: I have no objections to any credit or praise you may receive. But that you should be in wanting of anything does make me wonder if you have a true awareness and appreciation for what you already do have. Also, it is important to note that, although I came out of over 3.5 years of trying to conceive, 1 surgery, 10 failed fertility treatments, the grief trauma and loss that goes along with it and a depleted bank account with both my sanity and my marriage well intact, nobody kisses my ass. Nor do I expect them to. The truth is most of us work hard in life, whether it’s at a job or commitment we choose, or because of an unfortunate unjust hand we’ve been dealt.

The people who were rubbed by this video the wrong way are not any more flawed than anyone else. Their perspective is simply angled more towards the unfortunate overly self important martyr thread that all too often runs through conversations about motherhood these days. People who produce offspring are the lucky recipients of nature’s fine programming, not the victims of it. Perhaps I should make my own video and interview people for the job of infertile – a job that, unlike motherhood, NOBODY chooses.

This Mother’s Day may the moms out there enjoy the gifts they’ve been given as well as taking a few moments to hold a thought for those of us who are not as fortunate. In the meantime, next week (April 20 – 26) is National Infertility Awareness Week.

 

 

 

An Infertile In Vegas Pt3

OUR “WE’VE BEEN DENIED BIO KIDS” VACATION

PART 3, THE END!

Wrapping up breakfast on our last day, Julio and I discussed where we might travel to in the future, and what other types of places we might explore. And then the inevitable conversation came. “Can you picture this, I mean us doing this, like, forever??” I asked my husband. We agreed we were incredibly lucky to be able to consider such a thing. We agreed we were profoundly lucky to be together now, in that moment. We expressed an understanding and an appreciation that in many ways we’re in a good place. But. Oh, but but but but. The absolute we most agreed upon was that this in no way would ever make up for the children we’ve been denied. That this, although amazingly wonderful on a level, is not what we would be doing right now if we had the choice. “I’d love to be jetting off to Vegas with my husband chuckle snort chuckle….” I can hear the typical fertile world martyr comments in my head as I also reflect on how supportive and understanding the people in our close circle have been. They all know how much we needed this trip. “A lot of fertile people think THIS is the life,” I said to my husband as I gestured around the well-appointed Bistro in which we were sitting and then out to the ornate gardens that encircled the hotel Jacuzzis. “What I wish they would realize is that this is merely the consolation prize.”

They say living well is the best revenge. I’m not sure exactly who revenge is aimed at in this infertility saga, I’m not sure any of us are, but living well whenever and however I’m able is exactly what I intend to do. It’s a start. That you can never thoroughly get away signifies the depth of the loss, and is an aspect of all loss perhaps. It effects everything you do and the way you move through the world, whether it be at home or on a vacation in Vegas.  But I know this now. It is a dichotomy in my life that may always be there. The dichotomy of great loss coupled with the space and open road acquired from Shawshanking my way out of the world of reproductive medicine.

Upon boarding our plane home, I noticed a guy meandering into our terminal who looked particularly messed up. Not that any of us looked like models after a few days in Vegas, but this one stood out, so I proceeded to point him out to Julio. “Oh, eh, he was at my craps table,” Julio said. “He was playing very crazy and winning big money.” “Hmmm, that theme sounds familiar”, I muttered as we fumbled for our boarding passes. Infertility is like being forced into a game of craps by gun point. But after being forced to the table, the two games are a lot alike. You’ve got to bet enough where you might win. You don’t necessarily have to bet it all but some people do. Some bet more than others, but the main commonality between craps and baby making is this: How you play has no connection whatsoever to the outcome. People who play sloppily can win big. People who play smart can win nothing. You can stay in the game forever and loose more than you imagined possible. You can play for a half an hour and win everything. The only thing you really control, should you choose, is pulling out before you lose too much. In the game of baby making, Julio and I did just that. Barely. I hope.

Sitting at home over coffee the next morning I brought up the mother of all baby making questions. “Honey, did we bet too much?” “No”, he replied with a definite confidence. “But we definitely lost. We lost big.”

That evening, a Saturday, I decided to drag my jet lagged self out at 9:00 pm to re-stalk our frig, confident that at that hour I would avoid the fertile population that tends to dominate Whole Foods. My pause in the entryway to organize myself inadvertently opened the automatic doors to the store. Through the window I saw a woman smiling at me as if we were long lost friends to the point of alarming intensity. I was confused for a split second until I saw the hood of a baby stroller to her right as she started to march towards me out of the automatic doors (that people typically walk through to get IN to the store). Realizing this put me in the position of being stormed by a fertile woman with her stroller while jet lagged and clobbered from the 70 degree to 20 degree weather change, I put up my walls and prepared my castle for battle. I averted her insistent, slightly psychotic smile that was entrenched in the presumption that I would automatically be able to relate to her. I answered her inferred silent expectation that I would react to her baby with a big fat NOTHING. “Do you need to get in here?” I asked with neutral politeness, as I made room for her to move closer to the boxes of gourmet water I was standing next to while refusing to look at her baby. Just because I want to kick her smiley fertile head all of the way to Montauk doesn’t mean I have to be rude and inappropriate or anything. “Yes, I’m just so excited you opened those DOORS, it’s just so hard with HIM”, she emphasized as a dual directive for me to worship her likely unearned offspring while extending to her a large dose of empathy for her “troubles”.  I exercised all of the due diligence I could to again ignore her. Hard?? The fertile notion of hard actually may be more amusing than my whole trip to Vegas combined. Anyone who finds shopping at Whole Foods with an infant HARD clearly hasn’t suffered the debilitating side effects of every fertility drug in existence. Again and again and again. AND again. Anyone who finds shopping at Whole Foods with an infant HARD clearly has not had fourteen catheters rammed into their uterus. Has not given the last four years of their life to try and create life that never came. Has not wondered how on earth they are going to grieve the loss of twenty four embryos housed by their body for only days or perhaps mere moments before they turned into nothing. I could go on, my point is please DO NOT entertain me with your kindergartenesque notions of HARD, fertile world. Because I will fall down laughing so HARD in front of the item you want to grab that you will not be able to get to it for a long long time.

I make my way into the store, as she does shortly thereafter. One more inference to that darned baby of hers and I’m ready to give her an earful. Fortunately she’s not so dumb she can’t read my cues. Out of the corner of my eye I catch her looking at me, dumbfounded and confused I did not respond to the bait of her (supposed) greatness. So here I am again, in twenty degree weather that should be forty degree weather, alongside ecstatic fertile women at Whole Foods trying to make friends with my grieving infertile ass. I must be home……

 

 

Where Does My Heart Beat Now, Sung by Celine Dion

Written by Robert White Johnson and Taylor Rhodes

 

So much to believe in,

We were lost in time

Everything I needed,

I feel in your eyes

Always thought of keeping

Your heart next to mine

But now that seems so far away

Don’t know how love could leave without a trace

Where do silent hearts go?

 

Where does my heart beat now?

Where is the sound

That only echoes through the night?

Where does my heart beat now?

I can’t live without, without feeling it inside

Where do all the lonely hearts go?

 

Candle in the water drifting helplessly

Hiding from the thunder

Come and rescue me

Driven by the hunger

Of the endless dream

 

I’m searching for the hand that I can hold

I’m reaching for the arms to let me know

Where do all the silent hearts go?

 

Where does my heart beat now?

Where is the sound

That only echoes through the night?

Where does my heart beat now?

I can’t live without, without feeling it inside

Where do all the lonely hearts go?

Where do all the lonely hearts go?

 

One touch overcomes the silence

Love still survives

Two hearts needing one another

Give me wings to fly

 

I need someone to give my heart to

I feel it getting stronger and stronger and stronger

And I feel inside

Hearts are made to last

Til the end of time

 

An Infertile In Vegas, Pt 2

OUR “WE’VE BEEN DENIED BIO KIDS” VACATION

PART 2, VEGAS

When dealing with infertility, you learn after a while that you are never really safe. I’ve gotten into the habit of going everywhere expecting ANYTHING. Those of us who are forced to walk through life with any kind of child related loss face a constant bombardment of questions and conversations related to all things parent. It’s not just that it happens at all, but also that it’s a subject most often discussed with such presumptiveness, as if children are things everyone can just HAVE whenever and however they damn well please. Zip lining in Bootleg Canyon was on the agenda our first day in Vegas. Not only was it a unique experience for me, I’m going to go out a limb and dare to say that, in regards to the subject of infertility, zip lining is potentially a very “safe” activity to partake in. On the van ride over to the canyon, in typical infertile style Julio and I stayed quiet in our group of about fifteen to get the fertile lay of the land. There were no kids, although older kids I usually enjoy since they aren’t the trigger babies and toddlers are, and because for some reason unknown to science I never really outgrew my own adolescent attitude. It’s the verbal offerings of their parents that normally make me cringe. There were quite a few single people, people without their significant others along, and one older couple. And just one mere mention of someone with a child in college. On top of that we were thrilled with a seventy five degree not a cloud in the sky day as we hiked around the canyon and “flew” on four zip lines. Although the group spent a significant amount of time close together, topics such as a fear of heights, zip lining safety precautions, breaking techniques, and “we’re not really going to die, are we??” had to take precedence, even for the most effervescent of fertiles who may have been present. Overall I would label it a decent fertile world avoidance activity, especially when it’s a major network of zip lines that require focus and teamwork. But then again, I’m sure as I write this some poor infertile is stuck zip lining somewhere on earth with someone who is announcing to the world that she is “trying to get her body back” after having a baby (boo hoo), or with someone who is lamenting the “unfathomable” arrival of their empty nest (not an easy thing to deal with I acknowledge, but unlike infertility it’s within the normal spectrum of parental challenges). Given our usual luck I’m surprised Julio and I weren’t stuck zip lining with the only surviving septuplets on the west coast. It’s possible we just happened to get lucky on that beautiful day. Either way we enjoyed every minute of it.

During the hike on the way up to the first line, it came out that one of the gentlemen along on our excursion was a Vietnam Vet. This former helicopter pilot told the group proudly yet quietly of his accolades, one of which was that he had been shot down twice. And then the most horrible thing happened, though those of us who are infertile may not find it so strange since a lot of us have experienced something along similar lines. No one acknowledged this man. After his announcement, a brief awkward silence, and then people started talking rapidly and chaotically amongst themselves about other subject matters. The group then re-embarked, moving up the hill without prompting from our guides. Our cultural aversion to feeling was in full-fledged action! One of our guides who was somehow connected with the military fell into conversation with him, so I lagged behind and tried to listen as my brain continued to recoil from what just occurred. The man risks his life for our country and no one can give him not even a boo or a hidey ho? That’s ridiculous. I wonder if he brings it up just to see how cowardly people are, I wonder how much people’s reactions matter or don’t matter to him but most of all I wonder what it feels like to fight in a war serving this great country of ours only to then be met with such ambivalence towards your efforts. Vietnam veterans are an unacknowledged misunderstood unappreciated group of people if there ever was one. I have no idea how any of them survived all that they’ve been forced to bear. Goodness gracious. I was able to catch a moment where I pulled up alongside of him, turned my head towards his, and said pointedly “Thank you for your service.” The only other thing I could do in that moment was bask in the intermittent uselessness of being human. I felt about two inches tall as I put my stupid turdy thank you next to his sacrifice. Later on I found myself in a conversation with him and his wife about fear of heights, helicopters, and he even opened up and told me a story from his days in the military. I told him my flights in helicopters have been my favorites, but made sure to iterate I know nothing about flying them in combat and facetiously pointed out that I’m sure combat changes the equation a little bit. His wife smiled appreciatively. I love hearing people’s stories, but coming from a long line of public school teachers I don’t know crap about the military. “Don’t be a dumbass”, I reminded myself a few times before I responded to him. These days when I’m in conversation with someone who has had a unique, profound and likely traumatic experience, I do have a protocol for dealing with it available to me. I concentrate on responding to the person in the complete opposite way that people react to infertility. Yes, that’s right. The general responses I’ve witnessed to the subject of infertility are perfect role models for how NOT to talk to people. I make an effort to acknowledge but not fuss and try not to judge or give advice. I allow the person who has had the unique, profound and traumatizing experience WHO IS NOT ME to lead the conversation. Or not, if they so choose. I listen, and make an effort to not act like I know more than I know. I am not that good at all of these things, or even any of these things. But they pay significant dividends so I’m always grateful for the opportunity to practice. And hopeful that I don’t drag those around me through too much annoyance along the way.

Hey, do you want to see an infertile with PTSD go zip lining? You know you do. Actually, this video has nothing to do with infertility. It has everything to do with a neurotic nut job (me) who is afraid of heights and straight drops. Enjoy!

 

There seemed to be more toddlers, babies and preggos out and about in Vegas than there were the year before. It wasn’t unbearable, and I noticed compared to last year that for some reason it didn’t hurt quite as much. Although my tolerance for it is barely covered by what I’m convinced is the slowest forming emotional callous in the history of the universe. But the truly good news is that the fertile world, though mockable everywhere, is extra mockable in Vegas. So it was really nice of them to give me all those opportunities to point out under my breath what a dumb idea it is to bring kids here and how utterly pointless a pregnant woman is in this city, all as I was able to witness them subtly flailing around not really adapting to the absence of their self-perceived position as the center of attention. The best thing about pregos in Vegas is nobody cares that they are pregnant. It’s mildly amusing to see them looking a touch out of sorts, being away from their little “I fucked and got lucky” stint in the suburban limelight. On the elevators, for example, they are either ignored, or are the recipients of the occasional out of the corner of the eye glance that softly whispers “what are YOU doing here moron??” And yes, I did spend some of my time tagging behind my husband, who seems to enjoy failing to pretend not to hear me calling out “Honey I just DREAM of being able to one day bring our young family to witness excessive gambling, alcohol consumption, lots of provocatively dressed women AND potential prostitution!! Wouldn’t that be nifty???” I realize there may be some young families who are visiting because of required conventions, but there’s no need to ruin all of my fun by pointing this out. The aspect of ungratuitous fertiles overly concerned about hanging onto their youthful coolness by visiting Vegas is much more appetizing. So really, thank you, fertile world. Watching you schlep your strollers down Las Vegas Blvd through throngs of people drinking and smoking at 11:00 am, past Pin Up Pizza as “Love Stinks” by the J. Geils Band was blasting over the street’s sound system provided me with entertainment that was far beyond ANY I could have purchased.

In her 2009 New York Times article A Roadmap For Life Without Children, Shelagh Little astutely points out “….the fact is that family remains the single biggest organizing principle in mainstream life.” Oh, but not on the Vegas strip it isn’t. There is at least one place on this planet where life doesn’t revolve around the fertile world. And I just have to love Vegas for that. Although the satisfaction gleaned from experiencing this could never stamp out my hurt at being denied biological children, it does have value. Because for a few days I actually got to be in an environment where no one really cares what trimester you are in, if you have stretch marks or not, or about your baby’s defecation patterns. NO. BODY. CARES. Perpetual communal obsession over your child’s activities, how they are doing in school, and where they might go to college are, maybe not so inadvertently, pushed behind the curtains as vices, illusion, and escape take center stage. The feats of intoxication, sex, and gambling winnings are pursued as though they are causes as noble as landing a job or working on a relationship. Pleasures and risks that are typically looked down on in life are considered IMPORTANT in Vegas. And I happily soaked in every bit of it.

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The following day we took advantage of another perfect and unseasonably warm weather situation and sat poolside. Things at the pool were more tolerable than last year. Or we’ve just become excessively numb to our pain. Either way, the sequence of our, and more specifically, my experience went something like this:

1) Arrive early and get settled

2) Watch the breeders as they descend upon the scene and observe where they congregate

3) Remember they always congregate near us due to some as of yet unexplained law of physics

4) Watch moms with toddlers who don’t know each other bond

5) Remind husband that I won’t ever get to bond with women that way, ever

6) Move

7) Watch as a prego sits down a few seats away from us minutes after we settle in our new location

8) Ask husband why is it necessary for her to rub her belly in order to approach and sit down in a pool chair

9) Point out to husband that I don’t have to rub MYSELF before sitting down anywhere

10) Make sure husband is sitting in a position that blocks my view from prego

11) Husband relocates because he needs more sun and a break from my bitter ass

12) Tensely tell the pool staff that I need the back of the chair next to me UP (prego view blocking strategy) after they put it down a second time

13) Ignore the stares of the significantly more relaxed pool guests around me (Hey, I’m infertile I’m going to be more of an intense pool goer than your average shmo, deal with it)

14) Break down and purchase my first Tanqueray and tonic a few hours too early – maybe THAT’LL help

15) Entertain the thought that if IVF #4 had worked I would look like her now, as opposed to blocking it out so that I don’t become an insane ax murderer later in life

16) Sit with my feelings of longing and sadness

17) Remind nature and the universe of how badly they screwed up

18) Refer to prego as “a real fucking belly rubber” in an e-mail to friend

19) Move again

20) Reunite with husband

21) Practice back floats to tune out planet fertile

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At the time, this day at the pool seemed so normal it didn’t even occur to me to write about it. But that’s just it, sequences like the one above have become our normal.

One of the great things about Vegas is that, unlike suburban Long Island, kids are not one of the first thing to come up in conversation. And with Vegas being a tourist destination, people are much more adept at being able to hold a conversation that actually doesn’t involve the subject of children. Take the cue, fertile world…….Being in a different place, you definitely have your layers of buffering. Such as where are you from, weather, what are you doing while in Vegas, etc. We went our whole four day vacation with no one asking us if we have kids, which could very well be a world record. We enjoyed the respite, but in one way or another, sooner or later, infertility is always there.

The harsh moment at the Celine Dion concert I should have seen coming. I’m just going to call it now. So much that hits us infertiles comes seemingly out of nowhere, but this one was totally predictable. I didn’t fall off of the infertile turnip truck yesterday, and I take full responsibility for the fact that my love for Celine blinded me on this one. In an article in Las Vegas magazine, Celine made the claim that her success was more about her connection with her audience than her talent or her voice. I beg to differ on a level. As a flutist, I just simply adore her pipes. Her voice, even her speaking voice is gorgeous, as well as of course the ways in which uses her singing voice along with her absolute ability to deliver the emotion of a song. I had always wanted to hear her perform, and we went off to the concert with much anticipation as well as a mistaken subconscious level of comfort, with her being a fellow infertile and all. She opened with a set of her 1990’s power ballads, and I squeezed my husband’s leg again and again as I fell into the trance of “Holy shit, she sounds even better live…..who sounds better live any more……she performs four shows a week and she’s using her voice this much….are you kidding me?” I was fully mesmerized by the time she introduced Billy Joel’s “Lullaby” with a speech about how the love a mother feels for a child is the greatest love a person can have and how she thanks god every night for blessing her with children. “Well what about me then?” I wondered, as I continued to squirm. Wanting her to just get on with it and sing, I didn’t realize the full hail storm was only about to hit. The song “Lullaby”, which I’m sure we all know is about the tender love a parent has for a child, was sung to the backdrop of a slide show of Celine’s twins, conceived on IVF attempt #5 or 6. It was devastating. I put my head in my hands as my husband tried to comfort me. In that moment the difference between getting no kids at all from five IVFs and getting twins from five or six IVFs hit me like a jackhammer. Her performance of this song was the most complete and accurate encapsulation of the bond and experience of which we are being deprived of for no good reason. Made even more stabbing by the coupling of her stunning singing and Billy Joel’s exceptional song writing. I willed the song to end before I lost it, all as I repeatedly heard the Coliseum audience ohhing and ahhing and giggling at pictures of the twins. Doesn’t anyone else find this upsetting? In her article A Roadmap for Life Without Children, Shelagh Little describes the experience of infertility as “a unique kind of loneliness”. Yeah, I’ll say. Sitting in the middle of a nearly sold out audience at Cesar’s Palace Coliseum that is rejoicing over the very thing that is urging me to fall apart would be a prime example of this. Later in the song I looked over to see my husband watching the whole thing, staring at the stage with the most helpless look on his face, as if he were staring at a train wreck in progress he had no power to do anything about. The only thing that saved the evening was Celine herself. The woman is truly capable of portraying heartache in a song, and includes many in her set list, such as “At Seventeen” and “All By Myself”. The show is definitely not meant to be a yippy skippy happy slappy life is wonderful gala. “Ne Me Quitte Pas” (rough translation: please don’t leave me) was one of the highlights of the evening. Aside from her apparent appeal to suburban middle, and yes, fertile, America, she’s the real deal. Her openness about her infertility is a good thing, though I wish she wouldn’t infer that her persistence had anything to do with her procuring children from running on the IVF hamster wheel. ANYONE who does multiple IVFs IS persistent, whether they get kids out of it or not. And those who chose not to embark on the IVF journey at all are probably, in a way, smarter than the rest of us. Either way she’s an amazing singer who truly works for her money, and I’d go to hear her if she wore a shower curtain and sang on top of the Staten Island landfill. With noise blocking head phones and a blindfold in tow for the baby part of her performance, of course.

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Our last day found us having an of course late breakfast at one of our favorite Vegas breakfast spots in a hotel on the strip. As I contemplated getting a tattoo which I ended up not getting, we got friendly with our server, who happened to be the manager. It came out in conversation that we too are in the restaurant business, and before we knew it, we were caught up in the act of getting a surprise tour of the premises. It was wonderful for my husband to be able to see one of Thomas Keller’s kitchens, and the gentleman who offered to take us around was without a doubt one of the nicest people on earth. Swept up in the spontaneity of the moment, as well as in the enjoyment of his company, the juxtaposition of the fertile world tapping on our shoulders felt more like a kick in the shins. “I have a six year old” he announced excitedly in the midst of the kitchen tour. Simultaneously my stomach dropped as my mental gears shifted, all as a buzzer sounded (eeeehhhht) and the descending pattern of what what what whaaaaaa resounded in my head. Now, I don’t hold it against people who inform me they have children. This in and of itself is not a problem. People do have six year olds on this earth, it’s not illegal. The problems arise from the EXPECTATIONS people have following their announcement. The expectation that we will then announce our child status, and/or that it is NOT sad or traumatic for me in any way (at this time of the loss of our biological children), to take an interest in the account of someone ELSE’S six year old birthday party. Fortunately, I’m not without a coping strategy.

Listen up, infertiles. It’s a two phase process that makes up the game I like to call “Divert the Fertile.” Phase one is don’t conform to social control and act like having a child who is turning six is one of the greatest feats to pull off in the existing universe. Replace the expected oohs and ahhs and questions about the kid with neutral “MMMMs” and “mmm-hmmms”. Phase two must happen quickly after phase one, before the fertile has time to 1) identify their confusion over the fact you don’t seem to share in their narcissistic notion that they are amazing and 2) Before the fertile has ANY space whatsoever (which they most often craftily pounce on) to quell their need to find out you are just like them by inquiring about YOUR child situation. Remember: your silence over your child situation is not enough of a clue for most fertiles. So you need to subtly yet swiftly move onto phase two which is basically build on ANYTHING ELSE they mention besides their children. Now if they only mention their children and say, syphilis, this could be a bit challenging. Fortunately though people with kids tend to unknowingly throw plenty of bones to work with. Instead of focusing on his child I chose to focus on its birthday cake that he mentioned he got from the restaurant. “Well, you sure have access to the right place, our brunch pastries were delicious!!”

He then turned to me and said “all the moms wanted to know where my wife got the cake”. Now I didn’t say you don’t have to be persistent. Being that I’m not exactly all about moms bonding over where to get 6 year old b-day party cakes these days, I commented “well it must have been one good looking scrumptious cake then!” Cake. Cake cake cake cake cake cake cake.

I’ve been approached with the argument, “Well how do you KNOW they are fertile?” The answer is #1 I can often tell but sometimes I can’t and #2 it doesn’t matter. Sure, there’s a chance the child could be adopted or that they are having trouble conceiving a second. Not that either of those things are anyone’s business, and either way that still puts them in a space that is currently un-relatable from the childless grief trenches Julio and I currently stand in.  But odds are that none of that is the case, and you have to play to the odds. This is Vegas, remember? Plus, if there are fertility issues present then the person will be that much more sensitive to my cues. With women you have to be way more insistent as men are better at switching to talking about things other than their kids. Probably because they often do less of the work it takes to raise them. And this is all no commentary whatsoever on what I think of people. We have great memories of our tour that was generously given to us for no good reason, and of the person who gave it. It is just the nature of the beast, the way of the jungle. Only the strong and smart survive.

An Infertile In Vegas Pt 1

OUR “WE’VE BEEN DENIED BIO KIDS” VACATION

PART 1, PROLOGUE

I had always said I’d stop at 42. Stop trying to conceive, that is. I suppose I had figured that at that point it would cease to be worth the time, effort and money. And as fate would have it, that’s when we had to stop, almost precisely, since our last fertility treatment failed nineteen days before my 42nd birthday. We had gotten too close for comfort to the brink of spiritual, emotional, financial, physical, and life in general ruin.

The night leading into February 19, 2014 was a restless one. I’m still not sure if it was due to the 2nd cup of Barry’s tea (one of my can’t live without things and yes I’m a lightweight) I had in the late afternoon I don’t usually have, or if it was due to what I was trying to ignore.  But either way I tossed and turned and at one point kind of woke up. In the process of rolling over to change position, my husband’s elbow jabbed me right on the bone above my left eye. Amidst the ouches and I’m sorrys it occurred to me…..I’ll bet……I grabbed my phone and lo and behold the time read 5:04 am. With my husband in the restaurant business, we are NEVER awake at this hour. “Happy Birthday” my husband grumbled sarcastically. “The elbow in the eye just about says it all, doesn’t it?” I muttered back with a helpless sigh. I was officially going to turn 42 in five minutes.

The cruelty of baby making never let up. I was just coming up for air after a lot of tough shit around the time of my birthday, to put it mildly. Our fourth round of IVF that calendar year in September/October of 2013 was a prolonged hideous circus worthy in and of itself of its own reality TV series. Perhaps entitled “When Infertiles Want to Kill” or something appropriate like that. After that we were left with six frozen embryos to transfer, since EVERY forty one year old gets six frozen embryos from IVF #’s 3 and 4. Yeah, that happens. With my well-functioning reproductive system taunting me to the bitter end, I went back to the doctor the first week in December to start the protocol for my transfer, knowing full well this would be our last shot. Only to be turned away, having to wait ANOTHER cycle to finish this nonsense since my transfer would have coincided with the holidays and lab closing.  Looking back, my transfer had I been able to do it that cycle would have fallen right on Christmas day.  This should have come as no surprise since the retrieval for my 2nd IVF was on Easter (easter EGG, get it….harty har har) and the retrieval for our third IVF was on the 4th of July.  In addition to the irrelevance the holidays tend to take on when you’re infertile, for me they have also taken on a meaninglessness that is both bitter and benign.  My January FET done on a natural cycle included the longest LH surge occurring since the dawn of man (five full days) because hey why not extend the torture? The best though was that the day of my beta, the lab didn’t run my beta. Yes, you read correctly, but I feel the need to reward that debacle a paragraph all its very own.

The day of my beta, the day that would determine whether or not we would EVER have biological children, THE LAB DID NOT RUN MY BETA. I had peed on a stick but the blood work confirmation is rather important. You know, kinda sorta. The Lab Corp people somehow couldn’t make their way down the whopping mind boggling list of TWO ITEMS to run, progesterone and beta. I was of course convinced that the mistake was made by a grotesquely fertile person, either a darned prego too enthralled with her ordinary self to make it to the end of a two item list, or an older fertile who was distracted by the horrible unjust burden of having to pay for college. And I had no problem with ranting about this theory (in between loving reminders to myself that I wasn’t going to die) from the time I had expected the results (around 5:00 pm) until 11:30 the NEXT morning when we finally got the phone call. More than twenty six hours after getting my blood drawn.

And all it was all for, in the end, was to leave me grappling with the loss of our bio kids less than three weeks from my 42nd birthday. In a sense I was ready to turn 42, since I had been feeling about 90 for the past year anyway. And I was able to muddle through the day because we were about to do what any other prudent and broke couple grieving the loss of their biological children after over 3.5 years of hard work would do. We were charging a trip to Vegas.

“I feel like a looser.” I confided to my friend a couple of weeks after our final failed treatment. “There’s so much in my life that is really really good, but I haven’t been able to enjoy it.” It’s not that I beat myself up so much for this, since grieving our loss is crucial and necessary no matter what good things it temporarily veils. However I do find it sad and frustrating, and what if something is gone tomorrow that I wasn’t able to enjoy when it was here? That had become one of my concerns which was easy to talk about with my friend. I’ve known her since we were seven, and she was tragically and unexpectedly widowed almost three years ago at the age of 39. “Well, it makes sense that you can’t enjoy the good stuff with everything you’ve been forced to deal with,” she patiently validated. Early on in my infertile journey I was often advised to “try and enjoy the life I DO have”. This would irk me to no end because every part of the life I had was effected by infertility and the incomprehensible change and devastation it brings. But at this point I had been through all of that upheaval, walked through fire after fire, and was wanting to at least in part attempt to enjoy my life again, free from dumb old ART (assisted reproductive technology). Infertility taught me that anything can be taken from you at any moment, as I’ve run across people in my travels who are hit with infertility AND cancer, or infertility followed by the unexpected death of a spouse. So in my mind part of my job has now become to enjoy what I have when I can, and that’s what we intended to do.

So off we went, leaving behind Long Island’s ugly dirty snow that wouldn’t melt, still often spilling out into the streets revealing remnants of typical half assed New York plow jobs. We were also glad to be taking a break from the incessant pot holes, unforgiving cold, and sheets of ice that were now accompanying every snowfall and forcing me to be attacking my front step with a metal shovel three times a day. Taking a break from infertility is impossible though, since it is not something that a sane person can compartmentalize, no matter what people may say or write. We had no quaint notions of this, but we figured our best chances of coming close to a break were in Vegas.

“Is this a belated birthday trip?” the young woman checking us in at our hotel quipped. “Uhhhh,” I paused, dumbfounded that I could be so dumbfounded over something as basic as my birthday. Which I had insisted on referring to as “Wednesday” this year. “I had forgotten about that…..” Gee, could I at least attempt a lie? Oh no, that’s right, I am the world’s most unskilled liar, alas……… “You forgot about it already? It was only four days ago,” she (thank you so very much) reminded me.  Exuberant youthful “trying to do well at my job” energy is something I’m actually a serious fan of. Plus, she probably had never experienced something in life so horrible it makes you not want to have a birthday. I really have no need to ruffle this kind of sweetness. (However, the unsolicited advice giving crew of people who are old enough to know better I am absolutely committed to heckling to the bitter end.)  “Ok then, YES, it is a birthday trip, what the heck??”  This seemed to satisfy her, and we were off and running.

 

The Other Side

OPEN THIS ONE IT HAS THE LINK THAT WORKS

Inserting infertility into everyday conversation

It was just another every day moment. I found myself in a conversation with a fellow musician after having complimented her on how great she sounded. We had just finished performing a concert with the band I’m in and were mingling around a refreshment table at the venue getting to know one another better.

Although I’m ultimately an introvert, nine years serving part time in restaurants developed in me a propensity for small talk. I truly used to enjoy talking to people I don’t know before infertility came along and turned every day conversation into such a fencing match. And in this conversation I was, for a flicker in time, enveloped in the ease of connecting spontaneously with someone I didn’t really know. She was a fantastic conversationalist (with two or three slightly older children), and we shared compatible points of view and feelings on music teaching, auditions, and musician burnout, among other things. She was also very interested in other things I was doing and flowed well with my middle aged randomness (of course exacerbated by infertility) of “well I used to keep about twenty five private students and I had a wedding music business too for a while but things have shifted and I started writing and I’m fairly certain I’m going to complete my yoga teacher training soon…..” Yes, she was able to roll with it all fine. And then, her question. “So what you do write about?”

Now this is where a normal (and smarter) person would lie. This is where the savvy aversionists of the world would come up with an answer that is both creative and benign, enough to peak one’s interest but not so much as to provoke too many questions. Even more realistically this would have never come up at all, since those endowed with the ability to keep themselves in the shadows would have never even mentioned their writing in the first place. I don’t completely know what the temptation is with me. I get nervous and anxious just like everybody else, perhaps even more so, although I wasn’t in this particular situation. I do know that because infertility is a part of life, I believe it belongs in conversation. And I’m willing to go out on a limb for that when I’m able. Is it one part pride, one part I kind of suck at lying? Probably. I strongly feel I’ve done nothing wrong as far as infertility is concerned so therefore why should I wither away and hide? And for all of the pitfalls of self-revelation, there is something I truly LIKE about throwing down a thorny unexpected subject matter and seeing what comes of it. So for whatever reason, if there’s a can of worms to be voluntarily opened, apparently I’m your person.

“Well, it’s a tough thing that I write about.” I never said I didn’t believe in fair warning. And I need a segway myself. A brief pause in time and space to prepare for the abrupt screeching road runner like halt of energy that most often occurs when infertility is brought into the mix. Usually to be followed by a conversation that has a much more obstacle laden, plummeting, splattering coyote like tone.

“My husband and I just spent the past three years and eight months trying to conceive a child, and it didn’t work. So I write about infertility. We’re going through a very sad time now and I find writing to be extremely therapeutic.” Since infertility is so soaked with negatives, I make every effort to include in conversation the 2.3 positive things that have come out of it.

“Oh yes, that’s something a lot of women deal with” she said as she looked away.

Back when I was 39, in my younger naïve days, I actually took this as a sign that the other person understood. My how I’ve grown. It’s in our conversation patterns to say we know even when we don’t, and for some reason fertile people have a particularly difficult time wrapping their heads around the fact there’s something child related they are clueless about. But I pretend to take her cue and play that we’re on the same page.

“Yes, it’s extremely alienating and isolating” I say as I nod in “agreement”. Meep meep…..well at least I’m off and running.

She covers extremely well, but at this point it’s clear, more from the expression of her body than her face, that she is uncomfortable. She said she was sorry, which I always appreciate and made sure to let her know, and then broke into the “solution part”. “You know what you do? You know those horrible kids that are just obnoxious disasters? Focus on them. Because, I mean, you can get ANYTHING when you have a kid.” Attempts to make the loss of one’s biological children “ok” have the potential to be about as successful as the coyote’s attempts to catch the roadrunner. Figuring I’ll save THAT, as well as the point that the very off chance I could have given birth to a serial killer does not exactly soothe the loss of my biological children for some other fine day, I laugh but then realize she’s actually serious. “Well, it IS a crap shoot,” I offer. Now who says I’m not reasonable??

“And you can always foster or adopt,” she says, as if I can do that with the ease with which I buy milk.   I understand this is her attempt to point out that these are methods of family building that are just as valid as natural conception, which is a very good thing. However at this point all that I’m dealing with flashes through my head. Having to find the energy to speak with adoption attorneys upon the traumatic end of our fertility treatments in order to find out if my husband’s immigration status will prevent us from adopting altogether (fortunately it looks like it won’t be a problem). Investigating fully open adoptions, the idea of which right now feels entirely upsetting, invasive and violating. Learning that private adoptions involve independently soliciting pregos and even possibly taking them out for dinner. Eeeew. I’m so NOT there right now and I may never be, who knows? The knowledge that most children in foster care have some type of mental, physical, or emotional disability. And that a couple such as ourselves who has been traumatized and depleted by infertility is likely not in the right position to take on such a responsibility. That after the loss involved with ten failed fertility treatments bonding with a child or children who then leave my home would not be in my best emotional interest. I don’t think my PTSD would take too kindly to it either. How to come up with the $35,000 or so we’ll need to adopt after spending everything we had and some we didn’t ($77,000) on not getting pregnant.

And yes, I’ve been around this carousel enough times to know the arguments that can come up. That I can’t expect everyone to just understand my problems. And that who am I to expect people to just know about infertility. Turns out I can answer to all of that. First of all, this isn’t just “my” problem. Infertility effects approximately 12% of the child bearing aged population. Second, I don’t expect people to understand. Let me be clear, it’s the inherent ASSUMPTIONS that things like going through fertility treatments, choosing to end them, and considering alternative family building options are EASY that need to change. Last, people absolutely can know more about infertility. It is a trauma, and it’s estimated that 50% of our population endures some type of trauma throughout the course of their lifetime. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual percentage is higher. Infertility can happen to anyone. Assisted Reproductive Technology is something that has changed the landscape of the type of life crisis people in their family building years endure. Since we are a culture that obsessively talks, shares and inquires about everything baby and family, then we can know about all of it, not just the easy part. Infertility IS the baby family aspect of my life.

The notion, however well intended, that I can now trot along after the transfer of 24 embryos that turned into nothing and mindlessly pluck a child to raise up out of nowhere, all in a single bound, is not something I’m willing to let slide. And I have no problem attempting to redirect this misperception through calm matter of fact conversation. It’s not like our talk had fallen completely off the tracks. I let her know that although we may adopt, it’s a lot more complicated than it looks. That we just went through something arduous and would need time before entering the tangled maze of adoption. That I wasn’t in shape for much after one surgery and ten failed fertility treatments, but that I had found the energy to contact adoption attorneys to find out about my husband’s immigration status in regards to adoption. I let her know it seemed that his status likely wouldn’t be a problem and that we were grateful for one less potential obstacle to deal with. Like I said, I always include the positives. There are so few so it’s not as if they are hard to remember. I acknowledged that many people adopt successfully, but that it’s a lot to take on. Especially since right now the most important thing is for us to grieve. I finished with “The main thing I tell people is that I can’t tie this up with a neat little bow, it’s really a very tough thing.”

As I was trying to get all of the above words out, something different hit me. “This is hard for her,” I realized. And for a brief moment, I saw a slight glimmer of the other side. The other side that is the innocent inexperienced unsuspecting person from our limited western culture who is suddenly stuck absorbing the infertility story in three minutes flat. I do really think she meant well, and I don’t say this lightly because I don’t believe everyone who throws their two cents into the infertility pool does mean well. I’ve ended up in my share of stale mate conversations, as I’m sure all of us infertiles have, where I’m told dismissively “I’m SURE they meant well.” Which is really code for “I’m not interested in hearing your feelings”. To which I’ll sometimes respond “No, I really don’t think they meant well at all. I really don’t” (conversation plummets down ravine –splat!).   There are many who walk amongst us who believe that avoiding the “bad stuff” is actually an MO for dealing with life. These people, who are typically void of a connection to their own emotions, actually believe they are better off by staying away from people like me, or from anyone who is having something bad happen to them for that matter. But then there are those who do care, who are trying to do the right thing in conversation but just don’t have the tools. I guess in the midst of all of my pain I had been figuring to an extent that if I actually lived through infertility and survived, then how challenging could it be to hear about it? Hearing about it is much easier than going through it no doubt, but for this brief moment I could see that hearing about it is tough too. And really, if I can’t fathom it all having gone through it myself for almost four years, why wouldn’t someone hearing about it for the first time be a bit overwhelmed? So yes, I had flash of empathy for the fertile world. Hold onto your hats, fasten your seatbelts, alert CNN, do whatever you’ve got to do. But in this moment, I for whatever reason was able to see an otherwise open, intelligent, insightful person reach the limit of her current skills and capacity. Infertility really does that to everyone, not just its direct victims. But it’s not only the components of infertility and the individual that are in play here. It’s also the fabric created by the things our culture perpetuates – the coyote-like attributes of avoidance through action, desperately needing resolution, and not stopping to pause, just to name a few, that can lead these conversations to form figurative splattered outlines against rock.

There are many reasons for the awkwardness. We women thrive, too much I think, on having things in common with one another. Men seem to leave much more space for the differences between them. But more importantly, in taking a look at our conversations with one another, I wonder this:

How often do the conversation patterns in our culture willingly acknowledge loss?

Acknowledge trauma?

Demonstrate comfort with and acceptance of emotional pain?

Dwell in the space of “no answers”?

How often do the conversation patterns in our culture stay away from the need to fix?

Stay IN the present (for ex. “how are you right now”)?

Possess an inquisitive tone (for ex. “what challenges you”)?

How often do the conversation patterns in our culture accept a lack of resolution?

Allow capacity for the unfathomable?

How often are any of us really willing to take the leap of faith that we might actually be enriched, or at least informed, by sitting with the pain of another?

I venture to say the components that are most deficient or quite possibly entirely absent from our conversation patterns are what we infertiles need the most from people. And that, perhaps, is one of the culprits of the repellant dynamic that is so often present in conversation between fertiles and infertiles.

Our conversation, as to be expected, dissolved both somewhat gracefully and awkwardly, with her bowing out having to head home. In a way, we simply parted as two human beings limited by our own needs, perceptions and expectations, and influenced by those that pervade our culture. Hers could have been anything from feeling uneasy with the lack of resolution and my outright unwillingness to say everything was OK, to an unreasonable expectation to make others (me in this case) feel better, to the discomfort people feel when we find out something we hadn’t given a second thought to is really much more intricate and torturous than expected. Or maybe none of the above, who knows? Myself, I was left wresting with a bit of what I call “infertile guilt”. Which is really the discomfort I feel in the process of divorcing myself from the childish patriarchal notion that my main job in conversation is to make people comfortable.  It isn’t, plus, like lying, I was never so good at that either so it’s high time I officially move forward……..meep meep.

 

So instead of a song (or a sauwong, as they say here on Long Island), I leave you with a cartoon.  http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=ea2_1173564967.

Substitute the word “cartoon” in the sign in the last scene with the word “conversation”.  That says it all.