Because I am Out, with a capital "O", with everyone from family members to the woman trying to buy green beans at the supermarket, I get many people who come to me with questions. These conversations usually start out with "I think there's a problem" and then goes into probing about how we knew we were having trouble conceiving and when we first visited the RE or had testing done. And they ask for details about the different tests and procedures and ask what we know about certain medications or paths to parenthood. And usually these people update us once or twice during their journey and we're ultimately happy for them when they either conceive through treatments or third-party reproduction or adopt.
But twice I've had these conversations lead a few months later with the person telling me, "it turns out we didn't have problem conceiving at all!" With the emphasis on the word "we." As in, we are not you.
I'm not sure why the person needs to share this with me. Do they also walk up to mothers who have children with an illness and point out that their baby is healthy? Do they walk up to poor people and say, "I don't know what to do with all of my cash. We're just roooooooooooooooolling in it."
And in this same category are the people who did use reproductive technology and then tell me that "thank G-d we didn't have twins because we were so freaked out that we were going to end up with multiples." Again, why would you say this to a mother of twins? And why would you talk about it as if you dodged a bullet and I ended up with a curse rather than the blessing of multiples? I think I'm quite clearly in love with the idea that I'm a mother of twins--I've never expressed sadness over this fact--so I'm not sure why the person thinks I would ever nod my head and say, "man, you really lucked out having a singleton. I can't even stop and talk to you more about your pregnancy because I need to get back to my shitty life."
And the only people who top those other two categories are the ones who know that we used treatments to get pregnant but tell me, "oh, we don't have that problem at all. I got pregnant on the first try."
I am well aware that the majority of people in this world, myself included, speak before we think. No matter how thoughtful you try to be, you will end up saying the wrong thing at some point if you engage in enough conversations. But just because I understand it doesn't mean that I'm not hurt when it happens. And because thoughtlessness is so commonplace and unavoidable, I almost never address it. And I wonder if I'm perpetuating it by not addressing it or if it's impossible to eradicate regardless so why even try.
The two times when a person told me that they were not infertile, I pulled out a top-quality, Seher-like "that's so nice." But I didn't explain to them why their words made me feel like shit. While I understand that human impulse to distance yourself from anything considered imperfect, it still negates any emotions they felt up to this point as well as just emphasizes that I'm damaged goods while they are perfect, Grade-A babymakers. And I'm not sure why that emphasis needs to be made (but that is now making the wheels turn for a tangent post since this one seems to be getting too long).
For the people who make comments about how they dodged a bullet by having a singleton, I usually just smile and say, "my husband and I don't really see twins as the devastating hardship that you apparently do." And this either makes them back-pedal and say, "but what I meant was..." or stops that branch of the conversation entirely. But, again, I'm not really addressing how it made me feel and I'm sure the person didn't truly get the message as to why those words are offensive. And, again, I'm not really sure what is gained by pointing out to another person how you don't have their (perceived) shitty situation. It's like walking by widows and saying, "thank G-d I still have my husband. I really dodged a bullet because I was worried I would end up with one who would die young from an illness!"
And the last category...well...I'm not even sure what could be said to them because they're either completely clueless and can't empathize with anyone outside their own experience or they do subconsciously know what they're saying but are so insecure that they need to point out how they trump you--at least in the babymaking department. Because there's never a reason why someone would need to know that you got pregnant on the first try. Unless a person asks outright. In reality, there's no explanation that needs to be made--no tears at a baby shower or secret trips to the clinic that need to be explained. There's just no reason to pass along that information unless you're flaunting it. And when you're flaunting it to an infertile woman, well, that's just thoughtless at best and mean at the worst.
When these situations arise do you address them? Do you let them go? And what do you say? Have you ever handled it very well and can pass on tips to others? And if you choose (like me) to not inform people how it made you feel, why do you remain silent?
P.S. To my sweetest friend who did get pregnant on the first try, but not only didn't tell me, but made me believe that it happened for you after months of trying...thank you. For sparing my feelings with your white lie. Because I know exactly why you told that to me--you knew that the truth would be obvious once numbers were calculated. And even though after math comes into play, the white lie has so many holes that it's ridiculous, I still love you for pretending.