Monday, September 22, 2008

The gift of infertility

So we were in the grocery store with the babies yesterday afternoon. As we were in line, Brian was unloading the cart while I was manning the babies (I was wearing Alexis and had the boys in the double stroller next to the cart in front of me). and a woman joined the line behind us.

"Wow, triplets?"

"Yes (smiling)."

She asked the usual 'how old are they', 'how many boys/girls', 'what are their names', etc...

And then she said, "Technology is great, isn't it?"

I said, "It sure is!" and didn't think twice.
In the parking lot Brian asked, "Did you hear that?" and I said "Sure, no big deal." And I really felt that way. Until later.

Later...it bothered me. Now, I've got nothing to be ashamed of and am always honest about my pregnancy. I'm very proud of my babies and the whole journey. However, later that evening, this woman's comment was still with me. It stung me. It left me feeling a little anxious. The later it got, the more I thought about it, I got...a little pissed off. WHY?

I guess it touches the part of me that is sensitive to people asking, in a hundred different ways, how I got pregnant. I have no problem sharing intimate details of my infertility hell and our journey - on my own terms - but I would NEVER ask a stranger IN FRONT OF HER CHILDREN how she got pregnant. I think its in poor taste. Basically, you are asking if I got pregnant from HAVING SEX or from GOING TO THE DOCTOR. I understand the curiosity. However I also understand that these things are very personal and can often be WAY more complicated than the surface reveals. My own journey has taught me NEVER to assume about these kinds of things.

Am I too sensitive? Possibly. I've been told that I am. Its easy for people on the outside to judge my feelings. But they are just that...my feelings. They were not with me to experience the humiliation of learning that my girl bits are 'broken'. To have even some family members feel ashamed of MY infertility and the rift that causes because they can't relate. To have people say the darndest things like, "Maybe you should just relax", or "Maybe God doesn't want you to have a baby". While these things may even be true, they don't speak to the pain that comes with the knowledge that just maybe one of your biggest dreams may never come true. And that one day you will have to accept it. And move on. And find a new way. And then its not even about having a baby anymore.
It becomes about acceptance. And about learning to cope. And about how strong your marriage is. And learning to surrender...REALLY REALLY surrender. And faith that God ALWAYS knows my heart and has a plan. And that sometimes, no one understands - REALLY - and that has to be ok because they are not who I am supposed to be listening to or leaning on. God can use any situation to bring you closer to him.

Looking back, I know that I would NEVER go back and re-do it. I am grateful every day that I didn't get it the way I wanted it in the beginning. If I had the baby I wanted, WHEN I wanted, I would not have all the experiences that have brought me to this place today.

-I would not have the real understanding that you cannot judge another woman's deep desire to have a child, especially when pregnancy eludes her.

-I would not have the understanding of what so many have had to endure - sometimes unsuccessfully - just to make a baby.

-I would not be able to relate to the humiliation of what REALLY happens when you pursue fertility treatments. These things are not just limited to giving 456,798 vials of blood, standing in your bathroom and trying to find a non-sore spot in your stomach to give yourself the next shot, the cooter cam', the horrible knot in your stomach during a 'two week wait', calculating and praying for doubling beta numbers, the awful pain of a failed pregnancy...so many things that SUCK.
-Brian and I would not have been forced to really take a harder look at what we wanted, what we were willing to do to get there, what we needed to do to strengthen our relationship, what kind of parents we wanted to be, what we would do if it didn't happen for us.

-I would not have become a part of this amazing community of women -fellow infertiles- who have experienced the same things, often in secret. Other women who understand the shame that can come along with feeling broken and the devastation that the label "infertility" can cause to one's sense of identity. The frustration of people everywhere around you thinking they have the magic answer for your 'problem', but knowing that no one really knows anything. It was an accidental relationship between me and my community of 'infertiles', and one for which I will forever be grateful.

-And of course...If I had it my way from the beginning, I would not have THESE THREE BABIES. I cannot imagine my life without them. But God knew my heart and had an even bigger dream for me. The thought of this humbles me and brings me to my knees because it reminds me every day that I am NOT IN CONTROL.

So, back to the lady's comment. Why did it bother me so much? I guess its because I feel that sometimes our situation is often summed up by strangers as "oh, they just did fertility," and that these assumptions can seem to minimize the legitimacy of of our experience. That SOMETHING about our pregnancy is sometimes perceived as just a little off. A little invalid. This is TOTALLY MY ISSUE - My own insecurity and shame that I still carry with me as an infertile myrtle. Do I really want to have a sit down with the lady at Vons and tell her my life story? NO. But I want her to know that there's more to the story and that the truth of matter is that everyone has a story. And please don't assume you know mine. But I guess there's just that part of me - in ALL OF US - that just wants validation and doesn't want to feel judged or misunderstood. And to be honest, this is something that I would not have truly understood so well, if I didn't have to experience infertility in the first place. So the lesson is mine as well.