I met a stranger at the mall on Christmas Eve as I was waiting for Mr Bea to finish buying my present at the last possible moment. He asked if we had any kids yet, I told him no, he told me to hurry up, I didn't laugh, he asked how long we'd been married and if my husband was too fat, and then he advised us both to eat turtle's eggs.

"Turtles," he explained - and he raised his eyebrows slightly to make sure he was getting the word right, since I'd only just taught him what they were called in English after a complicated game of pictionary - "Turtles have lots of babies. So if you eat turtles' eggs, you will have lots of babies, too."

"Turtles have lots of babies because most of them die," I replied. But at that moment Mr Bea reappeared and my observation was left unheeded.

"I suppose you didn't think to just tell him you were due in May?" was my dear husband's first question, once I'd explained the conversation.

"That's not the point."

"Of course not. Out of interest, what was the point?"

The point, naturally, is many-fold:

1. Obviously I'm still not showing all that much.
2. Hurrah for considering infertility rather than laziness, selfishness, or child-hating as a reason for not having any offspring after 8.5 years of marriage.
3. Hurrah for considering male factor infertility.
4. Hurrah for giving me assvice I've only heard twice before.
5. Boo for unsolicited assvice.
6. Boo for telling me to hurry up.
7. Boo for not considering that childlessness is a valid choice for some couples.
8. My husband is nicer than me.
9. Pictionary is a timelessly fun and inexpensive game, suitable for all ages and cultural backgrounds.

The thing is, back in the dark days of IVF I had to smile these things off. I wasn't strong enough to take people to task. Now that I am, I can't just let it go.

Saying that, I also have less desire to detail the entire story from the beginning than I expected. In fact, the problem I'm finding with having people know about this pregnancy, is having people want to talk about it with me. Here on the blog I have some control over when and how I do so, but it's different face-to-face, with an uneducated audience - and I'm definitely showing to those who can remember what I looked like a few months back.

The thing is, I've put a lot of time and energy into thinking about having a baby over the last few years, and I've kind of been enjoying the break. Since around week eighteen, I've had an actual variety of thoughts, most of them not baby-related at all, and even before then I'd lost the constant churn that comes with having to decide what to do next - it was all "sit tight and try to suppress dead baby thoughts". Now people want to ask things, and I have to answer them.

When am I due?
Which OB am I seeing?
Will I be delivering in Singapore?
Am I planning on going back to work at some stage?
Do we know if it's a boy or a girl?
Have we starting picking names yet?
Am I feeling nervous?
Am I feeling well?
Have I had cravings?
Can I eat this? that? the other?
Are our parents planning to visit?
Do I mind if you touch my belly...?

Then there's the tricky one that strangers ask. "Is this your first?" What do they mean by "first"? It's the first time we've got this far...

I'm still trying to find my balance. I don't want to pretend the infertility never happened, but neither do I want to rehash the exhausting and emotional past. I don't want to overwhelm innocent questioners with awkward and unwanted details or spend hours chattering on and on, but neither do I want to rudely shut down the conversation.

Talking about it. Suddenly I'm being forced to, and I don't seem to have worked out how.


22 Comments

Vee said...

How do you manage to attract these weird and wonderful people ? Turtles eggs hey ? I might have a look on ebay ;)

Perhaps you can take the time now and feel "normal" about your pregnancy, enjoy it. It doesn't mean you will ever forget the IF side of things. Just have time out, you deserve to.

Karaoke Diva said...

I'm so sorry for the asshat at the mall, Bea. He'll come back in his next life as a dung beetle.

Like Vee said, if nothing else try to enjoy this time out. Think about all the IF-related stuff that you don't have to deal with right now. When I feel sad and scared about baby things, I just remind myself that at least I'm not taking nearly as many medications, having nearly as many tests and procedures, and the fact that hubby and I can get our groove thing on because we want to, not in some futile attempt to fertilize.

Schatzi said...

I would imagine such a transition takes time. I hope you will find a happy medium soon-- between cutting a conversation off and giving people way too much detail.

And I'm glad you got a break... even if it is ending prematurely.

My Reality said...

Perhaps in situations like this, you can live in a fantasy of just being a happy, expectant mother. You will never forget how you got here, but maybe it will help you heal if you just bask in the ooohs and aaaahs of the world who doesn't know about the pain of infertility.

Somewhat Ordinary said...

I just meet people that want to comment on how I must be having a Christmas baby. How silly they feel when I tell them nope-March!

I totally agree with Vee. I know it is way easier said than done. I don't think it will lessen what you've been through, but it will mean you won't be looking back at your pregnancy after the baby is born saying, "I wish I had enjoyed it a little more."

DI_Dad said...

Transitions are an interesting thing. Certainly my wife once she was pregnant with our first moved from an infertility mindset easily into simply being pregnant. Due to my blog I have never left the infertility / donor conception world. She keeps wondering when I will be joining her on the other side. Finding the middle ground is just part of that transition I believe.

I never heard the turtle eggs advice over here in the States.

Vee - on eBay ?

Cibele said...

I am so tired of those questions... the worse one is: How is the baby doing??? I can only hope that she is fine...

Jess said...

I never did make it into the comfort zone with the pregnancy questions. Till the end I was worried and scared.

And I'm a great one for telling too much. :) But I like to tell it how it is!! haha

The Town Criers said...

It is a fine line because you also know what they want to hear. Yet, if you give them only what they want to hear, you're not being truthful. And if you give them more, it opens the door for more questions. And if you give them less, it opens the door for more questions. And in the end, you really wish everyone would just leave you the fuck alone.

maryellenandsteve said...

Oh lord Bea. Sorry that happened. I am absolutely terrified but I am trying to go with the "fake it till you make it" approach. I don't think that I will feel comfortable until I am holding them.

Barb said...

Wow. I'm feeling you on many many of those points.

ACK on the turtle eggs! That's partly why sea turtles are endangered! (sorry.. animal geek girl here)
xo

Mel said...

Where can one find turtle eggs?

Aurelia said...

I'd think about rehearsing a set bunch of pat answers that are neutral and don't bug you too much, but don't freak out strangers too much.

You can be honest with people who are friends, who you care about, and maybe make a bunch of better answers for them, but I've never felt comfortable just starting these things with the parking attendant. Just me.

Geohde said...

Bea,

I think your response was more restrained than mine would have been by far. People really just don't use their frontal lobes, do they?

Yours via 'borrowed' internet,

xx

J

Mr. & Mrs. M@sk said...

Turtle eggs hey?!?!?!

Sunny said...

Don't you just love people sometimes? HA!

I love your heart.

msmiranda said...

Well, you have your head screwed on straight at least. :) You can't really go by me since I'm a big believer in being closeted if that's what makes you comfortable, which I know isn't the socially responsible thing, but ... I allowed myself to take a break from infertility while I was pregnant. I didn't lie, exactly, if I was asked a question that touched on it, but I definitely didn't get into it, especially with strangers. It is completely understandable that you wouldn't want to focus on the hard times right now, and my assvice for the day is to just enjoy your pregnancy as much as you can and deal with questions in whatever way is going to maximize your happiness.

steph said...

OK. I don't understand how you can offer someone assvice if you don't even truly speak the same language. A person could say something really bad lost in translation, you know? Is that an acceptable risk here???
When it comes to strangers, especially older people who appear to have no boundaries (and yes, my own mother fits into this category and will talk to ANYONE about ANYTHING, ANYWHERE) I enjoy making up a good story. About anything. I am sick and wierd, and it amuses me, so there.
Maybe tell the next person you'll never see again that this is your 17th child and your second favorite husband is in the store buying you and his other wife something for Christmas, but it's difficult with her mobility issues, you know, being pregnant herself and in a wheelchair and just turning 50 and all.....

See what that translates to~

chicklet said...

This, "I don't want to overwhelm innocent questioners with awkward and unwanted details or spend hours chattering on and on, but neither do I want to rudely shut down the conversation" is exactly how I feel quite often IRL. I want to talk about it as I think it's better that people know, but I also worry that the uneducated will just be so overwhelmed by everything I feel they need to know that it might just be too much and I'll end up defeating the purpose.

LIW (Lady In Waiting) said...

Luckily, that's the first time that I have heard about turtle's eggs. That must explain why Mr. LIW and I had to embark on ivf #. Had I known that turtles eggs would have the done the trick, I certainly would have skipped ivf. But then I would have missed all the shots and my life would have been incomplete. Who would ever want getting pregnant to be as easy as eating a couple of eggs?!

That guy's a dope. The longer I struggle with IF, the more convinced I am that most people are stupid. Maybe it's the hormones....

I do think that, once I am out of the trenches of TTC, I will not want to talk about it. And the thought of talking about a pregnancy while it is in progress frightens me already for reasons I am not sure I can explain. I understand your feelings entirely....

XOXO

Pamela Jeanne said...

So many inappropriate questions so little time...

Seriously I can well appreciate your continued concerns about how much and when you discuss your pregnancy. By all means, do what is most comfortable for you.

Wishing you all the best and then some in 2008!

sassy said...

First time here, and, I was extremely baffled by your post. It felt like words that echo in my brain... Thank you.

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