As my good deed this week, I manned (or in my case, womanned) the Christmas card stall for the R.D.A. for an afternoon. My fellow card-seller, though childless herself, was one of those women who just can't resist a tiny face. "Look at the baby!" she exclaimed at every opportunity, and made gestures and faces, even when the infant was quite some distance across the mall and oblivious, along with its parent, to the fawning going on.

I have never been one of those women. But each to their own.

Things became dangerous, however, when she turned to me and asked if I had any children, to which I answered, "No," with that uneasiness born of watching helplessly as the conversation chugs towards unwanted territory.

"People keep asking me when I'm going to have kids," she continued, and in a flash I saw my opportunity to redirect the train along an entirely different track.

"I think that's rude," I cut in. "Who says you want kids? Who says you can have them? What if you were in the process of miscarrying a long-awaited pregnancy? It's too personal a question."

So we talked about that for a while, until someone came to buy some cards, after which it seemed time for a new topic. I think we moved on to tomatoes.

---

A few weeks ago, not long after the scan at which we found out Twin A was no longer alive, I was talking to my mother on the phone. "How are you feeling?" she said.

"Fine, within the limits of what can be expected," I replied.

"What do you mean by that?" she demanded.

"Just, you know..."

"Morning sickness? Tired?"

"Sure, a bit. Like I said, standard stuff. Fine." And my mother agreed amiably. But then I added, "It's just starting to wear a little thin, that's all," and I swear I could hear her pursing her lips all the way down the line. If she hadn't been interrupted by my father in the background, I'm sure she would have tutted for quite some time about how there's no pleasing me.

I know my audience. I wouldn't dream of forcing any of you who are still waiting to listen to and sympathise with every little complaint*. And I truly don't feel the need to complain most of the time - my symptoms have been mild and manageable, and even last night, which I spent half of in the bathroom vomiting, I remained pretty cheerful about the whole affair. The difference is, last night I felt like there might only be six more months of this between now and our baby, and that doesn't worry me at all. But just after that scan, I felt like we might have to start all over again. When hope is low, even small inconveniences bite. I know you know what I mean.

But that wasn't the only misunderstanding. If she didn't know about our history of infertility, would she have pursed her lips, or would she have given an understanding, "Yes, I know, pregnancy symptoms are unpleasant, aren't they?" Knowing my mother, it's quite possible she would still have done the former. "Well, it's not like you weren't aware this could happen..." I love my Mum, but she doesn't do nonsense, even when she should. Still, I've seen her incline her head and murmer a few gentle words to those suffering through the trials of even the most ordinary pregnancies, and I daresay she'd do the same for me. If, you know, there was any pleasing me. I'm sure it would be different if I was having real problems, but for a moment I wondered where I could make myself understood. I felt stranded where no-one spoke my language. Preginfertilispeak. Perhaps there should be a phrasebook.

--

Please read about and support the mother's act, for those suffering post-natal depression.

And yay to C for her support of the Red Cross in their efforts over those fires.

--
*I know I've posted a couple of complaints, but hopefully you can see that I have everything in perspective, and anyway, I don't expect anyone to read and sympathise.

--
Just a few clarifications:

1. I think the amount of complaining I've done here pretty accurately reflects the amount I've wanted to do. I've spent more time wishing I had morning sickness than actually having morning sickness, for example. I also kind of figure you're not forced to read or comment if you're having a bad day (and please don't feel you have to), so it's not the same as pinning you in a corner in real life and telling you all about the chucking up. And it's certainly not the same, as Barb said (hi Barb!), as complaining, "Ugh why did I have to do this?" So I do try to remember who I'm writing to, but I'm much more relaxed about what I say here than face-to-face.

2. Ellen mentioned "the hardy type [of mother] who thinks the cure for every ailment is exercise and fresh air, or maybe a warm salt water gargle". It's not exactly the right picture, but close - she is a great believer in "dealing with the consequences", so it makes it hard to tell how much is due to IVF and how much would be there anyway. So it could all be my own paranoia. On the other hand, I know there are people who have got these kinds of comments (like Somewhat Ordinary, for eg).

3. You guys are great! (Did I need to clarify that?) There are some other really good comments, too, you should read them.


18 Comments

Vee said...

Well done on the comeback !

I think you are allowed to complain as much as you like. You are pregnant , you still have to go through all the yuckie stuff just as much as any other pregnant person so don't feel bad about complaining. We know you are grateful just the same.

Karaoke Diva said...

What Vee said.

Beagle said...

The mother-daughter thing has always puzzled me. (So I cross my fingers and hope for a son, but anyway . . . )

I still wince a bit at the memory of my own mom voicing huge sympathy for my SIL who miscarried (and also already had a healthy living child and went on to have another**) but when it came to me and my IF woes she just couldn't offer any soothing words at all. (My mother never had a m/c either so it's not like she could relate to one and not the other for personal reasons.) To me she offered things like suggestions that our childfree life and all it's freedom look pretty good to her, why can't we just be happy with that? Etc.

I think we expect a lot of our moms (which makes becoming one a bit scary to me). I wish your mom could just murmur a few sympathies.

I'd like a copy of that phrasebook too if you ever find/write one!

(**Not that I didn't have sympathy for my SIL myself, I did, this was the nice one and I hated to see her in pain.)

The Town Criers said...

I'm with Vee, you should complain about the pg symptoms because (1) not doing so paints an unrealistic portrait of vomithood...I mean, pregnancy.* and (2) you signed up for pregnancy and a child, not vomiting, headaches, etc. It's sort of like saying, "well, I can't complain about the pain from OHSS because at least I got to do IVF." See?

* I read blogs to get a sense of reality prior to going through something myself. Okay, that's one reason I read blogs. So if you don't complain and you don't record events as is, readers are going to be shocked when they find their head over the toilet. And even if we all know about morning sickness, I think that it can do wonders for another person to learn that you too hated that part of pregnancy and perhaps won't feel as guilty when they're cursing the vomiting while still loving the baby.

And now I'm going to step down from my soapbox and go practice wizarding.

Samantha said...

I've posted about this before, I really and truly do feel that women pregnant after going through infertility have not someone given up the right to complain about unpleasant pregnancy symptoms. It's not like "you asked it" and got morning sickness any more than the woman down the start who easily got pregnant and then got morning sickness and is complaining to everyone who can hear.

And I'm with Mel, as an infertile, I prefer to know about what I might be getting into, the good and the bad.

Great response to your fellow card-seller! I am going to remember that!

serenity said...

Creatively, all I can manage is "ditto the others."

But you know, I do think there is something to the mother-daughter dynamic which seems to get in the way of offering and accepting real support. I certainly know that I give my friends and in-laws a LOT more leeway than I do my own mother. Our history sometimes just... gets in the way.

And I do know your need for someone who speaks preginfertilispeak. Often I find that I'm lost in my own complaints, gratefulness, emotion. It's hard to unwind all the conflicting thoughts without someone who's been there as well.

Ellen K. said...

Morning sickness is gross. I've shuddered at the thought for years, infertility notwithstanding. Whenever I gag, tiny red spots break out around my eyelids and sometimes on my eye itself. I've never said "Ooh, can't wait for that to happen for weeks on end!"

Sorry about your mother. My own is the hardy type who thinks the cure for every ailment is exercise and fresh air, or maybe a warm salt water gargle.

Heather said...

I think most people, infertiles included, think that once you get past the "hump" and are good and pregnant that everything is dandy. That it is the final hurdle.

But the more I read of pregnant infertile bloggers, the more hurdles I see.

And what Vee said.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I tried to keep my complaints to a minimum because of what I feared people might think. I did complain to my mom more than anyone and one time she said, "For someone that wanted to get pregnant so badly you sure don't seem like you like it." I just told her that no matter if this pregnancy had come the first month or 30 months the side effects would still be the same. She never said anything again.

Rachel Inbar said...

This really fits right in with everything I read while researching what I wrote in my PPD post. It's actually a mistake not to complain. It's letting the guilt (over feeling bad about feeling sick when you are finally pregnant) keep you from talking about it - meaning you're keeping it inside, which can't be healthy...

I think your post is important & makes me think that the infertile world needs to do more to give preginfertiles the legitimacy to talk about how they feel... Maybe we need to set aside a day to post about this...

BTW, I was SO weak, nauseous and unable to concentrate on anything during the first 10-12 weeks of pregnancy* that I was afraid anyone who didn't know I was pregnant would think I was dying... Fortunately, after that it went away and I had relatively easy pregnancies. Hopefully your period of morning-sickness should be over soon.


* except in the pregnancy that I lost, when my hormones were so out of whack that all I felt was tired.

Schatzi said...

Yeah, what they have all been saying:-).

Since when do infertiles give up the right to complain about vomit spurting out their nose? I reserve the right to complain just as much as any other prego if (oh, I mean when...) I make it that far.

M said...

Thank Gawd for tomatoes...

And just because you've fought your way thru the trenches doesn't mean you're not allowed to complain - it's your reality now and it's not too pleasant, write for you babe, not everyone else! x

Barb said...

When I get upset is actually when people SAY things like, "oooooh.. being pregnant SUCKS," or, "Ugh why did I have to do this?" things like that.. in front of me. I don't mind complaints of nausea, headaches, round ligament pain, whatever. You certainly reserve the right to feel icky about that stuff and to state it! But I have a hard time with the comments that make it seem like they are PO'd about the pregnancy itself. I know that's not usually what they mean, but it's frustrating to hear all the same.

This is the first time I've posted on your blog I think. Love it!

Jess said...

I think you should be allowed to complain, too. And I'll listen. Of course, you know, I speak predinfertilspeak, so you know, it's not so hard for me to understand.

Women who haven't gone down this road often find the regular stuff easy to understand and sympathize with...morningsickness, aches and pains, etc...while it's the real fears and emotions that they just can't grasp...because they have never been there.

Even my own parents...former infertiles (former?) themselves seem to not recall those feelings. And maybe they never had them, but then again...maybe time has just dulled the memory, too.

I hope you are feeling hopeful and are doing well.

Geohde said...

Good on you for redirecting that conversation. Asking people when they're planning to reproduce should be outlawed.

Really.

J

GLouise said...

I want to hear it all, Miss Bea! The good and the bad :-)

Barb said...

Hi Bea! :D

I've been meaning to tell you for a while that your post about "Pregnadonna" inspired me to write a post about my very own "Pregzilla." Hope you don't mind, and I did link to your blog. :)

Sorry about the troubles, but so glad the pregnancy is going well otherwise!

Portia P said...

Hi there my dear

Thanks for keeping up with me. I've had to hide away and get past my huge misery for a while, but i'm back now and ready to partake again!

Please don't feel bad about moaning - even a little - you can't just pretend all's well just for us. You've a touch of survivor's guilt!

My mum sounds just like yours. She's always been so tough on us. It would have taken a severe case of bubonic plague for us to get a day off high school! Tough love....

xx

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