Monday, June 4, 2012

Hot Button Topics

** This is another one of those posts that people may read it and think "she's talking about me, she's offended by what I said and this is passive aggressive." It's not, I promise. This is an idea that's been kicking around in my head for a while, and by coincidence, a couple instances that fit have come up as of late. I'm not offended by those instances, but they've given me the push I may have needed to broach the topic. **

There's no doubt that in the world of infertility, some things said by other people offend us deeply. Some of them, we're justified in our response, because the comments really are just completely thoughtless. This post is about the reactions I don't always think are justified. Keep in mind, I'm human too. While these are my thoughts in theory, on a rational day, I admit that I sometimes have a "WTF?" reaction to comments like those I'm about to point out.

So what kind of comments am I talking about? Those that are made my pregnant people, mainly. Comments like "I will be sooo disappointed if this baby is not a girl" or "I am soooo miserable being pregnant." Any comment that touches on the less-than-desirable aspects of pregnancy or showing anything less than 100% gratefulness for the pregnancy itself can be huge hot buttons for IF women. And I understand why. I totally do. We have a tendency to feel like anyone lucky enough to be pregnant should be constantly thankful, and have a "how dare you not just want a baby, whether it's a healthy or unhealthy or a boy or a girl?" mindset. However, I don't think it's fair.

We all came into this baby-making business assuming we'd follow the life-plan we were told about: grow up, fall in love, get married, have babies. That's in general - sometimes the order gets shuffled, but you know what I mean. We all figured it was a given that - if that's what we wanted for ourselves - we'd find a partner and have a family. And then Infertility enters Life for some of us, and we realize that the family dream is not a given. And we start to realize that it was something we took for granted. We feel the people who got to live that life-plan don't appreciate it or recognize how fragile it can be. And we get angry when they make comments that display their naivety.

Truly, how are they supposed to know how good they have it when they haven't faced anything but love-marriage-baby carriage? How can we expect them to understand the hurtfulness of their comments when they don't know any other way? I think of it kind of like being a cancer survivor. I'm happy to be alive, and I enjoy my life. But I probably don't appreciate it as much having never had my livelihood jeopardized by disease. In comparison to someone who's had to fight to live, I probably take a lot of things for granted and don't appreciate some things I consider really small. It's probably the same with fertile people - they have no idea what they are so fortunate to have and how easy it could be to be on the other side and have no control over the course their life takes. So while the comments of fertiles may annoy me, I don't think it's fair to expect them to realize the gift in their life. When 88% of the population never has to worry about it, why would they?

Let's face it - pregnancy is uncomfortable. Morning sickness - that apparently lasts all day - has to downright suck. There's a fetus hanging out inside you zapping your energy, sleeping with its head on your bladder and its feet kicking at your lungs. Your hips spread, you leak substances, and everyone and their brother thinks it's okay to touch you. And yet, millions of IF couples fight for the opportunity to experience it, while 8 times as many couples find themselves in the situation relatively effortlessly. Because of my explanation about appreciation above, women who are pregnant and became that way spontaneously are going to say things that piss off someone who would (and/or did) pay good money to trade places and feel all those discomforts. I know it's hard to not be offended by the stupid things they say like "I hate pregnancy" or "I'm so tired of this," when it's something you'd give so much for, but they (meaning fertiles) don't know what they have accomplished - in relation to us IFers - in just achieving that pregnancy. While we'd give so much to be in their shoes, I don't think it's fair to get upset with them over complaining about swollen ankles. While we'd be happy to trade, we'd be pissed off by swollen ankles and an ability to get comfortable enough to sleep fitfully - in between trips to the restroom - too. Because like I said, pregnancy is uncomfortable, whether it was spontaneous or achieved through ART. Complaining about pregnancy isn't an effort to to be spiteful or throw their condition in our face. Could they possibly have the wherewith all to censor their comments? Sure, but that would mean they'd first have to recognize that appreciation I mentioned above. Do I feel they should always censor themselves? Not really.

Comments over a baby's gender also get under IFers' skin. I'm the first to admit, I always pictured myself as the mom of a girl. That was just my vision. There were boy names I liked, but there are girl names I LOVE. I never put a lot of thought into boy names because I was going to have girls. But in the IF world, there's a sort of taboo in hoping for one or the other. The only option anyone is supposed to hope for is "healthy." But again, this isn't fair. Everyone hopes for a healthy baby, because that's part of being a parent - you don't want your child to face illness or adversity or pain. But that doesn't mean it's not okay to have a vision or a preference. Saying you hope for a girl isn't the same as saying you won't love a boy. It's also not the same as saying you'd rather have an unhealthy girl than a healthy boy. It's also fine to truly not have a preference, but it doesn't make you better than someone who does. And again, if you are a fertile person who's never spent nights crying and wondering if you'll ever have ANY baby, the gender of said baby is probably something that you feel free to make comment on without much thought. And that, of course upsets someone who is infertile and maybe does 100% feel they'd have any baby, any day of the week. Again, the fact that fertile people don't have the appreciation doesn't justify the angry response I sometimes see. Is it annoying? Sure, at times. Do I understand why they don't see it as a big deal? Yes.

Again, I'm not saying I'm perfect or that I've never gotten upset by these comments. I have. I probably will again. I'm just saying that on a good day - with a clear head - this is my thought process and reaction. There are always going to be people who don't realize or appreciate what they have, and there are going to be people who really do have negative intentions with their comments. But what I've come to realize is that it's not fair to expect someone to have the sensitivity of an infertile person - or to even keep in mind the reaction of an infertile person to their comments - if they've never been infertile.


Ashley said...

You are a very wise woman.

Katib77 said...

This is totally how I feel...Some days I think I could punch a PG woman that complains. But then I remember before IF, that I would say things like "Aw, you poor thing." I know I don't like when they complain only because I'd given anything to be in their shoes.
And I don't mind when people have a preference. As a tomboy, I've always thought I'd like boys. What I don't like is when PG people are visibly upset at the gender. Wanting a girl is one thing. Bitching that you didn't get the girl is another.
But bravo to you for verbalizing this!