A Phony

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Thanks for all your comments on yesterday's post. I am giving her the benefit of the doubt that she is just being cautious. To my knowledge she has never had a miscarriage or any fertility problems- her third son was actually a total surprise (less than 2 years after her 2nd son) and she was devastated, as in CRYING ON THE BED, when her pregnancy test was positive that time. Don't get me started ;-)

But anyway, today I am having lunch with my neighbor. She is my mom's age, but she doesn't work, and so we have lunch every now and then. She is your typical very nosy neighbor, but it is kind of funny because we know more people in the neighborhood than they do, thanks to walking our pups twice a day and meeting people along the way. So even though she would like to have more gossip than me, it is the other way around. And what is even funnier is that I am not a gossipy person, so at our lunches, I'm always trying to turn the conversation away from such things.

Back in November at lunch, I was talking about how I was going to acupuncture, and she asked me why. *Deer in headlights* But I figured, oh what the heck, I'll just spill the beans, and so I told her that we were trying to have kids and wanted to explore some natural methods to help that happen. She didn't really press me for details (thank goodness), and we just left it at that. I wondered what I had just done- how would I explain not conceiving to her if she asked me how it was going 2 years later?

Luckily, she has been good about not pestering- although in January she did ask if I would work after having children and "you know, I could always watch them for you, right across the street". Again, I thought to myself, oh what have I done?

Fast forward to today, when I plan on telling her about the baby. I am sure she will be really happy for us, but I sort of feel like a phony.

For all she knows, we have been trying for kids since November. As in, for 3-4 months. As in, the time it takes NORMAL people to be successful.

Clearly, I am not normal, and there is a huge difference between the reality of 3-4 years and what it will appear to be 3-4 months.

I almost feel like I should give her some background of our struggle, but I am not sure of how much I want to get into the details. I guess I don't owe any explanation past that we have been blessed now, but it just feels weird to think that in her mind, we'll be lumped in with any other couple who decides they want to have kids and is successful in a short amount of time.

This happened when I shared our news with our vet, as I was having a breakdown in her office 3 weeks ago when Banana was sick. (Earlier than I wanted to share with a "stranger", but I felt my hysterical waterworks needed an explanation.) Here is how that conversation went:

Vet: Oh, that is so great! You know, even before we started trying, I went to buy an ovulation predictor kit and started taking my temperature. Even before we had unprotected sex!
Me: Wow
Vet: And then, since I had all the data and the predictor kit, we conceived the very first time we tried!
Me: {Cringing at the thought}

I guess, just as infertility is such a closely-kept part of our lives, it remains that way during pregnancy. I am pretty sure you can't (shouldn't?) share your struggle history with everyone who congratulates you, and maybe at this point when you have overcome it, you shouldn't be constantly dredging it up to damper people's reactions. But it is so much a part of me that I feel like dredging it up- saying look, this wasn't easy, and I don't want to be a part of the myth that having a baby is as easy as the decision to try.

I feel like I need to order an I-survived-Infertility maternity tshirt and wear it in public all the time. Maybe that would save me any explanations- or probably not in some cases! But at least I wouldn't feel like a phony.

17 comments:

RMCarter said...

I completely know how you feel! I always feel I should add a caveat when people congratulate me on our good news. I want people to know this child was wanted, loved and desperately prayed for for years! But I wonder if at some point I need to let that go.

I want one for those t-shirts!! :)

RMCarter said...

one *of those t-shirts...

suchagoodegg said...

I completely understand how you feel. When I told my older brother we were pregnant, I couldn't help but add that we had hoped and prayed a very long time for this miracle. He's a doc so he immediately asked if we'd had to do fertility treatments. I hadn't planned on talking about that, but I said YES! B/c the alternative--that he think this miracle just dropped into our laps--was not an option. Go with your gut, share what you are comfortable sharing. You can't go wrong that way!

Also, as for discussing names with your MIL....my personal opinion is that you should perhaps put the kabash on that. My Mom has been VERY eager to hear the names we have under consideration. She is a good, good egg but cannot help but let her opinions be known. Not sure if your MIL is like this too, but we decided for our own sanity we would keep it private. It is kind of awesome to have one piece of this journey that is just hubs and mine: the convos about the babies' names. xoxo

Coco said...

You probably already know how I feel about this one. I don't keep secrets, ever. Not about anything. Every time you keep a secret, you give that secret power over you. I am Queen of the TMI. Haha. I guess I'm hardcore on this point because of some abuse I suffered early in life. It kept me locked up SO badly and I felt SO alone for SO long. Until I started talking about it. Then found more and more people who had gone through it, who were also afraid to talk about it. Since then, I've refused to keep anything secret and give it that kind of power over my life again.

Personally, I would tell this lady, because the worst she can do is tell someone else, and I would've been willing to tell them anyway. No harm done. I'm sure that I'm crazy and overboard, but it sure makes life easier. It is SO liberating to just let go of the secrecy and fear. Talking about my infertlity and miscarriage struggles far and wide has helped me to connect with many people who have also struggled, but in silence. There's a whole group of us at church now who are all struggling with it, and because I could talk about it, we found eachother.You never know what someone else is privately dealing with.

I don't know. I don't want to shove my experiences onto you. In the end, it's all about what you're comfortable with. You have to be true to yourself and your heart. If you feel like telling her, then tell her what you're comfortable saying. Good luck!

Jessica R said...

(Hi BTW - lurker here) :) I feel the same way. When we started telling, I always want to add *and here's what we went through to get here. I haven't said it, but maybe once I actually have this baby in my arms, I will feel more distanced from the whole IF thing (does that ever happen?) and will be able to tell people about it without looking like I'm asking for pity. I do think it's important to be open about IF - knowing that several friends of mine had struggled and still ended up with babies is what kept me going while we went through it. So, I say speak up when you're ready!

PS - One good way I've found to kind of introduce the subject is: "I'm pregnant!" ["Congratulations!"] "Thank you, yeah, FINALLY pregnant." And then they have the option to ask, and even if they don't, they have some indication.

Angie said...

I am in the same dilemma right now. It feels like our infertility journey is so much a part of this miracle that it is hard to tell one without the other. So far, we have only told family and close friends who already knew about our struggle, but with each passing day, I am dreading telling someone and getting a reaction like your vet's. But, it also doesn't seem right to go around telling strangers something so personal. I hope it goes well with your neighbor today. Let us know how it went.

Mommy-In-Waiting said...

While still trying to get pregnant, DH and I have talked about what we will say when we finally conceive. At this point, everyone knows we have been trying for almost 3 years, and they don't like the idea we are using fertility treatments. They are convinced "their" baby will have birth defects...ugh. So our plan on that is to make sure our future child is wearing a "Infertility Drugs Rock!" onesie the first few times they meet the grandparents=)
As for me when I'm pregnant, I too feel like I should let other infertiles know "I'm not one of those wal-mart mom's, I really tried!" So I figure a nice infertility joke maternity tee will do the trick.

The Gist Fam said...

I know exactly how you feel! I'm just a few weeks ahead of you. While there are people around us who have known all along what we've been struggling through, the vast majority of our friends/acquaintances did not. Last week we publicly announced our pregnancy, including on facebook. The next day I started a 4-part series on my blog chronicling our story, and posted that link on facebook as well. We've had so many people share that they had no idea what we had gone through, and were so grateful to know our story. When people have congratulated me, I've usually said, "Thank you - we are thrilled, especially since it's been such a long road to get here." I feel like using that phrase I am able to let them know it's not as easy as they may think or have experienced themselves.

Melissa said...

I say, tell her what you are at ease with telling her.

And if she does just go around telling everyone what you and DH went through to have this miracle baby, maybe there is someone else on your block that is going through the same thing and needs to hear it.

Good luck today though :)

the misfit said...

Wow. I would totally want to make clear to everyone who congratulated me that I was not what they thought I was - just another girl who stopped taking the pill and got pregnant the next month - but someone who has been a billion times more open to life than anyone they know or can imagine, and has been put through the wringer and so far just has this one fragile pregnancy to show for it. But how do you say all that in response to a good-natured "congatulations"? Maybe a t-shirt would be the simplest way. Or maybe you can work it in when you have the opportunity of a more in-depth conversation. For me, the opportunity to tell the whole ugly truth would be way more tempting than the opportunity to keep my business private, but I know we all approach these experiences differently and I can certainly understand the perspective of those who don't want the world any further in their business than it would have been had they been healthy!

Trisha said...

It is hard and I still struggle with it. However, there are some people I've shared with and some that I won't. The main reason why I share is to hopefully be able to help someone who is going through the same thing we went through. You'll know when it's best for you to share. Hope you're feeling well!

callmemama said...

You could start with, "After trying for 4 years, I am thrilled to announce..." or something like that. When we wrote our letter to the fam to announce our adoption, I wrote something to the effect that "we have been hoping to be parents for quite a few years now" and left it at that.
I love the t-shirt idea! If I ever get pregnant, I'm totally wearing one!

callmemama said...

P.S. My BIL's family would be absolutely DISGUSTED if my sister were to get pregnant again (with their third child). Obviously, they weren't exactly the most understanding when she was trying for 3+ yrs for my nephew and then 6 yrs for my niece. Crazy, huh?
Your story about your MIL reminded me of that for some reason...

Becky said...

For me, it has been easier to be open about our struggle with infertility and now with our adoption journey. I figure it is more people praying and more people who will know what a miracle our son is. However, there are definitely people I have chosen not to be fully open with if I felt like I needed to guard myself a bit from them because of the type of person they seemed to be or if I was just feeling particularly vulnerable that day.

I think a happy median could be as someone else suggested responding to "congratulations" with "thanks, it's been a long road."

AL said...

I know just how you feel! I've finally learned to let go of the urge to say I'm expecting after 2.5 yrs, one miscarriage, and an ectopic pregnnacy...I don't know how, I guess because now the bump is out there announcing it...? Hope lunch went well today.

Meg said...

Yesterday I had a stranger ask if our twins were a "surprise blessing" or a "surprise curse". I paused before explaining that we prayed for these babies for 3.5 years. I didn't go into all of the heartache associated with IF and IVF treatments with a stranger, but, like you, I feel as if I want to tell the world just how much of a miracle these babies are and how LOVED they are. The world (and "normal" people)just don't understand, do they?

Adele said...

It is a part of things. I had to smile/grimace when reading the interchange with your vet:)