You don’t truly understand what it’s like to have kids until you have them. And you don’t truly understand the hard parts of (getting, staying) being pregnant until you are and have been. And as much as my name is Hope, I try to keep my optimism realistic without too much pessimism, personally. But recently I had an encounter with a coworker that made me question my own outlook until I realized she didn’t know what she was talking about.
We had been talking about big changes happening at work, and I had started the conversation by asking, “Do you have time? I have to tell you something.” Conspiratorial in nature, perhaps, but I didn’t have a serious demeanor – more like, “you-never-guess-what-just-happened” gossipy a-la TMZ. We had our little conversation and then went about our business. Later, we walked out to the parking lot together and she said, “You know, when you first came in to talk to me I though you were going to tell me you were pregnant again.”
This coworker is in a committed relationship but not married, no kids, no house. She knows about my UU and saw me leaving early two or three times a week for the testing I had to endure. Sometimes I think she makes these kinds of comments because she wishes I wasn’t in the picture, that maybe I’m a threat. Our friendship is sometimes more frenemy than friends; this is one of those moments.
I retorted, “I’m not ready, and I doubt that would happen anyway. It was a miracle that it happened at all. And I was so grateful for every day I stayed pregnant even into full-term.” I thought that would shut her up.
“But everything’s stretched out now, so that’ll make things easier.” Ugh.
“Doesn’t change the fact I have one tube and one defunct ovary. And it’s still banana-shaped.”
“My aunt had one tube here (she pointed to her right) and one ovary here (she pointed to her left) and still had both my cousins.”
This example didn’t seem very useful to me. I know this woman and I know her relationship with her family isn’t exactly all cookies and milk. That she would know this much about her aunt’s anatomy was surprising, and I am willing to guess it’s all second-hand knowledge from her mother. So a third-person story about a woman who had her children at least four decades ago didn’t seem that relevant to me, even if it was about a Mullerian anomaly. She only said she had one tube and one ovary, and while it might have been likely she had a normal, pear-shaped uterus that part of the story was missing. That’s kind of the critical part in my situation.
Without wanting to get into it, I tried to deflect the conversation with “Still… I don’t think we’re going to have another.” And then I changed the subject to weekend events.
I’m trying to understand why that conversation wasn’t very helpful to me, and I’ve settled on the fact that it’s because she doesn’t know what she’s talking about, but acting like she does, and not exactly being sensitive about it – as in, continuing the conversation without noticing that I didn’t want to talk about it. When you’re infertile, the issue becomes highly charged and personal; when you’re fertile (or blissfully unaware of your fate, as I was) you take for granted that pregnancy can/should come easily, and you can banter possibilities about like laundry hung out to dry. No big deal. This should be easy female bonding talk, and it would be if everyone were in the same boat. Infertility is like dirty laundry; something no one who doesn’t have it wants to talk about and something people who don’t know any better seem to think can be easily fixed.
File “Don’t worry – you’ve already had one kid, your uterus can stretch for the next” under “Irresponsible remarks to an infertilite.”