Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Just desserts? Part 2.

Everyone who's dealt with any sort of infertility is aware of one undeniable accoutrement to the infertility experience: namely, other people will say retarded and/or offensive things to you, and they will solemnly believe that they (a) have the right to do so and (b) are being helpful. This is known as "assvice," and it runs the gamut from the weak "just relax" to the more flagrantly insulting "maybe you weren't meant to have children." There are many varieties and permutations of assvice, but they share the common trait of becoming more annoying over time, until, perhaps, you reach a zen-like state in which these helpful suggestions cannot penetrate your magic shield of equanimity.

I have not reached this state. I spend approximately 50% of my time either worrying that someone is going to say something upsetting to me, or stewing over something upsetting that someone said to me at some point in the near or distant past. I analyze and categorize assvice and think of snappy comebacks several months too late. Different versions of assvice rise and fall in their ability to anger or hurt me. (Currently, I am dangerously likely to splash my cocktail into the face of anyone who informs me that their husband just looks at them and they get pregnant.)

All of this having been said, however, certain memories have begun to afflict me, and, in the interest of intellectual honesty, I present to you things that I definitely said, possibly said, or would probably have said if given the opportunity back in the day when I was an unconfirmed infertile. Now they're all coming back to haunt me.

Things I Definitely Said:
1. To a friend who'd just had a blighted ovum: "At least you know you can get pregnant."
2. To another friend who'd had a blighted ovum: "At least it happened early on."
3. To my fertile friend A, who expressed concern that maybe she shouldn't have mentioned in front of infertile friend B that she, A, had accidentally gotten pregnant: "No, I'm sure it's fine - B must be inured to it by now."
4. To friend C, about infertile friend D, who was on her fifth IUI: "Maybe she just needs to gain some weight - she's so skinny!"
5. To friend E, about infertile friend F, who had had repeated early miscarriages: "She should adopt, don't you think?"
6. "I would never want twins - it's such a difficult pregnancy!"

Things I Probably Said at One Point or Another:
1. "I would never do IVF because you get hugely bloated and can't move!" [or some other uninformed vision of IVF]
2. "I would never spend so much money on fertility treatments."
3. "I would just adopt if I had any fertility issues. There are so many perfectly good children out there, etc., etc., [insert your preferred cliche here]."
4. Something about how since my cycles were regular and my charts were beautiful, I would probably get pregnant quickly.
5. "She's overthinking it."

Things I Most Likely Would Have Said, If Given the Opportunity:
1. "Have you tried [insert ill-informed and/or irrelevant treatment here]?"
2. "You still have plenty of time."
3. "Maybe this pregnancy just wasn't meant to be."
4. [Describe someone else's worse situation in a lame attempt to make the listener feel "better."]

I am pleased to note that I would never have told anyone they weren't meant to have children. But I am ashamed about the rest and feel that my past misdeeds have stalked me into the present.

In all seriousness, I do feel as though infertility has been a very useful (if painful) exercise in compassion for me. I find myself being much more open-minded and sympathetic about a range of situations that my friends have experienced and I have not (though I certainly still have a ways to go). These skills would seem to be good for parenting. I hope I get to find out.

Stay tuned for part 3 in our series.


Hopeful Mother said...

Yep, me too.

I have thought many of these things, even if I haven't said them.

I NEVER thought I would be choosing to go through IVF. I NEVER thought I would have to.

You just never know how you will feel about something until you're in the situation. I have learned not to be so judgmental as a result of IF too. Good can come from infertility!

Hope548 said...

I have to say ditto to pretty much all of that. I know I said stupid things and I absolutely assumed I would have no problem getting pregnant. I have also learned a lot along the way. Very well spoken/written! I look forward to part 3.

Heather said...

I hate to even think of all the ignorant things I have said over the years (about numerous topics).

I never knew anyone who was IF before I was diagnosed and found others online. I was totally ignorant about the whole process, the emotional strain, the way it eats away your whole life...

anxiously awaiting part 3

bihari said...

I hope from the bottom of my heart that I have never said anything asinine to you, but I suspect I have, somewhere along the way, and if so, the apologies are heartfelt, copious, and prolonged. Did I mention heartfelt?

When I was getting divorced, one of my friends said, wonderfully, "I bet the valleys and bays this carves in your heart will serve as shelters for others some day. And I bet the carving hurts like hell right now." I do not hope for hurting for you--I hate that you have to go through this--but I know that already, you have valleys for others.