After waxing on about the shitty things people say, I wanted to explore that tangential thought about how people feel the need to distance themselves from anything perceived as imperfect. We're all looking for a reason to take ourselves out of an undesired category. We create new language for it--people aren't fired anymore, they're downsized or their company is "reorganized." People aren't irresponsible bastards, they just have anger management issues. And then there are the chickies who come back to let me know that they didn't have fertility issues. They are knocked up. They are with child. Ta-ta!
My sister once told me that she was deeply annoyed that I would call her and cry for an hour about a boy issue and then never follow up and tell her how things turned out down the line. I see her point--once you've vented to someone and asked for advice, there is a bit of an obligation to let them know how things turned out (agree or disagree). Just because they've invested their emotional energy into helping you solve your problem. Therefore, I somewhat expect that once someone has shared their fertility struggles with me that they'll return and tell me how everything turned out. This isn't always the case, but it's nice when they do.
So then it follows that if the person didn't end up having problems, shouldn't they come back and fill you in on how everything is okay?
Well, yes, I do want to hear that all is well. I do want to hear that you're now pregnant. But...I don't want to hear about the line that divides me and you. Because those who return and say, "turns out that I didn't have a problem" aren't really telling me about how it turned out. What they're really saying is that they're removing themselves from that category of infertile and planting themselves firmly in fecund soil.
The Mommy Wars battlefield starts back with the womb. The one-upmanship that sociologists pick apart on the playgrounds begins with who has the more fertile womb. Because what is more feminine, more female, more powerful than the ability to create life? And those who create it without problems are like the girls who aced every exam in school without studying. And needed to tell you that too.
So what could these people say when they came back to admit that they were panicked for nothing? Here's a little sample I whipped up for anyone in this situation: "thank you so much for sharing all of that information with me. It certainly helped because it eased my mind when I was freaking out and I'm grateful that you were so open about your experience. It helped mine in turn and I'm now pregnant."
An obvious question that may be asked by...me...or the person who shared the information: "did you end up seeing an RE or using treatments?"
Answer if you didn't because you really didn't have a problem: "No, we didn't. But I'm still keeping in mind everything you told me because you never know what's going to happen in the future."
Mission accomplished: the truth is exchanged and feelings are saved. The person isn't part of the infertile category and the infertile person doesn't feel subpar. And they join hands and dance in a ring and sing about the "Circle of Life" a la the Lion King.
But women aren't always like that. You have your troops--those chickies who stand behind you no matter what. Who would never date someone you once dated. Who will bring over the tub of ice cream. Who will let you try on 22 pairs of jeans and give her opinion on each one. And then there are the neutrals--who don't factor into this story. And then there are the Mullies--the Mommy Bullies--who start by telling you that they are so fertile and continue into the parenting years by explaining why their way of potty training is the best way of potty training. And judge. And make comments about how parenting is soooooooooooooo easy.
I'm glad I have my troops and that they're large in number. And I'm glad the majority of women in this world fit into the neutral category. And I'm glad that the Mullies who go out of their way to try to make someone feel shitty are somewhat avoidable.
Why does the implication of "I'm not one of you" hurt me? Because it implies that I'm in the damaged category and they're in the undamaged category (again, back to natural is nice). And because they obviously went through a range of emotions about trying to conceive but they're sweeping away reality in exchange for some sugar-coated vision of pregnancy that is filled with an inner light of peace and joy. And by sweeping away those emotions, they're apparently forgetting how I may be taking this information--a person who didn't sweep away the emotions and remove herself from the infertile category even after she had children. It's not that it can't be done--people either talk themselves out of the fact that they ever felt something or it truly didn't phase them. But it phased me and I didn't talk myself out of it. And even if I had accomplished that feat the first time around, it would be back to bite me in the ass on this go-around.
Which goes back to the idea of white lie. Is it better to share the truth in this situation and come clean with your fertility or is it better to spare the person's feelings and dance around the topic? Is blunt better than sensitive or is it a case-by-case basis (and how do you ever decide which way to go)? If I can share my struggles, why can't the other person share their accomplishments? And lastly, do we have a responsibility to go back to the people who helped us along the way and let them know how it turned out?