Monday, September 29, 2008


In general, I think it would be great if more people were more open about infertility. Awareness would certainly go a long way to dispelling the mythology surrounding early losses or the inability to conceive. I wholeheartedly support and admire those who are able to be completely open and up-front about your lives. And yet...

Family prejudices are different. Some of my family is religious enough to believe that there is a Reason for everything. The rest of my family is so stoic that they just think you should take what you get and be happy that it isn't worse. The Irish side of the family is bolstered in their beliefs by one of those stories that is rare but true, and they have taken it to illustrate their point of view about family planning.

My cousin married a lovely woman and had four perfectly adorable children. After the fourth was born, he and his wife consulted with their priest and all agreed that a vasectomy would be acceptable under the circumstances. He had the procedure done, it went well and that was that. Except - he never bothered to go back for his follow-up appointment. It was almost two years later that his wife went to the doctor complaining of exhaustion and nausea. The fifth child is a miracle, of course, and a lesson to us all not to presume to know what is best for us.

The fact that my cousin then went back to the urologist, made absolutely sure that there wouldn't be any more "miracles" and hasn't had any more children isn't really a part of the story. The story only serves one purpose, and it has nothing to do with following your doctor's orders to come back in six weeks for a post-op visit. Over the years, I have heard many quiet stories of miscarriages, lost twins, and barren aunts. There are also plenty of hurried weddings and very young brides. Managing fertility is not considered a task for mere mortals to concern themselves with.

The thing is, I love these people. They are the dears of my heart. But the only way for us to all happily get along is to keep certain topics completely off limits. So, they probably think that the reason I have never had another child is because I waited too long to have the first one (silly me, with that grad school nonsense) or maybe just because I am some heathen infidel who doesn't deserve to get what I want. Either way, if they knew I was trying IVF and then it failed, it would be forever just a poor sad example of the fact that everything happens for a Reason, and why can't I learn to accept that. My cousin and I would be flip sides of the same story.

The rest of my family isn't especially religious at all, but my mother has said, on several occasions, that my cousins are ridiculous in mourning their early miscarriages - that all women experience those and it certainly doesn't deserve to be treated as a cause of grief. Needless to say, I have never spoken to my mother of either my early losses. I had pursued the issue with her when she told me about a cousin's recent second miscarriage, but the contempt and dismissiveness that she used in describing the exaggeration of my cousin's reaction was enough to clinch my silence on the matter.

Reading other blogs has made this journey so much easier than it would have been if I had always felt as alone in this as I did a few years ago. So, I will share my story on the off chance that it helps someone else. And maybe someday I'll feel brave enough to put a real photo in my profile.


Shelby said...

I too wish I could be more open about issues of loss and infertility. I think that if this were a unified movement, then maybe as a group we could help to dispel the skewed perspectives on it. But that takes so much more than what I have to give at this moment. We are all too busy coping to deal with being spokespeople and handling the silly and hurtful comments. As I've said, one day I will speak out loud, but until then, I'm faced with the same ignorances as you've described. It's sad. :(

Lisa DG said...

Even if you can't share with mom and others, you always have us. We're here for you. I am sharing a website I came across that made me laugh (below). The woman who wrote this blog also wrote a book called Infertile and Addicted to Hope. It provided some levity and hope for me in what can be a sad and lonely journey.

take care

Trish said...

Argh! I just typed a comment and lost it.
Let me start over.

You know I'm beyond an open book.
I so wish that you could invite me over for dinner. I promise the topic would come up and not only would I share my story, but I'd correct some notions they had (IMO) wrong.

The thing that really gets me is the religious folks who presume to know God's plan.

God only wants us to have things that come easily?

I think I've read a different bible.

I guess Jesus should have just given up trying to save people since it didn't happen easily..


Midlife Mommy said...

My parents told me not to tell my daughter that she was conceived with donor eggs, otherwise, someday, she might want to find her "real" mother. Hmmm. They weren't trying to be hurtful; that was how they felt.

Me said...

One time I was talking with a (relatively close) friend about IF. At one point she leaned over and said "Don't you think the Universe is trying to tell you something?" She, of course, had a child out of wedlock that she was unable to parent and her parents have custody of that child. But I guess the Universe was ok with that? WTF is wrong with people I will never know.