Wednesday, 19 March 2008


Over the course of the past few days, it has been suggested to me that, if only I could 'just relax', I might still manage to conceive 'naturally'. I have been regaled with tales of a friend of a friend of my sister-in-law's who apparently did just that, and who then miraculously fell pregnant just before she was due to start her first cycle of IVF. I have been asked to consider the possibility that perhaps we are not meant to have children of our own and that, given the circumstances, we could always 'just adopt'.

All of the above is, of course, standard assvice. Anyone struggling with infertility will doubtless have heard similar things before from their own friends and family. But why is it considered helpful, or even acceptable, to say these things? Do these stock responses in fact say rather more about their embarrassment and discomfort, than about my infertility? It strikes me that there is at the moment no broader discourse on infertility and loss - or rather, that in the act of telling our stories and sharing our experiences, we are in the process of creating one here in the blogosphere. Unfortunately, however, the ripple effect seems slow to spread. Perhaps in time, people will begin to have greater understanding of the difficulties associated with infertility, and will stop and think before coming out with this crap.

Surprisingly enough, none of this came from my mother-in-law, who managed studiously to avoid the topic of our infertility - instead, she spent much of the weekend criticising Mr H and cooking up the type of highly-processed food that I never buy at home - over the course of the weekend, I've eaten more saturated fat and refined carbohydrates than ever I would in a month of Sundays.

I am accordingly both exasperated and bloated, but indescribably relieved to be back home!


Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Glad to have you home and still (relatively) intact emotionally. I can only begin to imagine how infuriating and upsetting these sort of remarks must be for you -- and poor Mr H for getting it in the neck!

All those tales of FOAFs to me are just more 'good for them' comments: it's not a battle as you have said before

luna said...

ugh. how very frustrating. I think people often say these (dumb) things out of a desire to feel like an "expert" on the topic of babymaking, or to help "fix" your problem. but of course it's out of ignorance and without regard for reality. I'm sorry you had to subject yourself to that. and your MIL sounds like a regular gem, though I'm glad she steered clear of you.

you're right -- there is no broader discourse on infertility and that's why I often feel invisible, alienated and misunderstood, even among loved ones. it's only in the blogosphere and with a very small circle IRL that there is space for me to share my story and hear others in an exchange of mutual support. there is no other outlet.

welcome home. ~luna

shinejil said...

I'm glad you're back, too. I'm sending high-fiber, phytonutrient-rich, biodynamic thoughts your way...

I've gotten to the point where I spit something back at people. Not always appropriate or possible, but frankly, if someone's going to give a pat, offhand response to my major life crisis that's none of their business, they can deal with my anger at their ignorance.

Maybe we should have an informational brochure that circumvents any need to respond ourselves. The second you hear, "Well, you could just...", flip open the handy-dandy IF brochure, roll your eyes, and walk away. Sigh.

Malloryn said...

Welcome back home!

I too don't understand why after telling someone about our infertility, the assvice almost inevitably follows. It would be wonderful if there was a more open discourse when it comes to infertility, but it really seems to be something that most people would rather not deal with.

Shinejil, I remember seeing an article linked on a blog, titled something like, "What to say to an infertile couple". It was quite good... I think I'll take a look for it.

I tend to fall back on being a NICE girl, yet after all of the assvice I kept hearing, I think I need to come up with some stinging comments. Why should I be the only one to feel terrible?

Portraits in Sepia said...

Sometimes I find that just staring at a person without making a comment or sound until they start to squirm works better than any comeback. Sometimes silence says what we can't.

Pamela Jeanne said...

You hit the nail on the head: "[they] say rather more about their embarrassment and discomfort, than about my infertility."

I can't help but wonder if there will ever come a day when these ridiculous statements fall into the unacceptable, bad form category. One can wish, anyway...