Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Adjective, Not a Noun

I was visiting my husband at work the other day, and was talking to two of his colleagues. One of them is about 42 months pregnant, and the other is trying to adopt after having a son around the time Meg was born. I commented on bulging belly of the first, and the second turned to me and said "Yeah, aren't you glad you adopted? You didn't have to deal with any of that."

She didn't mean to ruffle my feathers, but she did. I instantly jumped into the role of infertile woman, insulted that she would think there was any reason I was "lucky." Didn't she have any idea what I had been through to get my child? Didn't she have any idea of the loss I had suffered? That I am still suffering? Didn't she know all the things I had done to my body, and was still doing to my body to achieve what others had gotten so easily? Had she no idea that she offended me?

Then it dawned on me. No, she hadn't. She wasn't viewing me as an infertile woman. She was viewing me as a Mom with a beautiful child who had never had to deal with cankles.

It made me think.

I have been dealing with infertility for almost five years. In that time it has become not just something I deal with, but a main part of my identity, if not my entire identity at times. And now? It's time for that to end. It's time for me to stop feeling bad every time I see a maternity dress, or think "why not me" when I hear a friend is pregnant. Or, if not to stop those feelings, to not let myself wallow in them, and wear them like a corsage. There are so many prettier things I could pin to my dress.

I am not saying that my feelings of frustration, and sadness, and anger, and envy, and hopelessness aren't valid. I am just saying I don't have to, or want to, validate them every day any more. They can be a part of my story without being the center of it. Who knows, maybe the story will be even more fascinating because of it. And maybe I can help others dealing with infertility get past the soul numbing, all consuming yuckiness to expand their own stories too.

After all, I'm lucky. Damn lucky.


In case you didn't know, this is National Infertility Week. For more information, visit Resolve.org.

20 comments:

Becky said...

I really struggled just this month with whether to even try to explain to my eight-year-old what Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is. He asked me what it was like to have a brother. Talk about guilt.

I feel so blessed and lucky to have him in my life, but then there are moments like that that just shatter me, even now.

Sandra said...

Good for you for understanding that people don't get 'infertility.' I was adopted. When I was pregnant, I kept asking my mom if it bothered her to be shopping for maternity clothes with me, if my big belly bothered her, and she said: "Nope. I wouldn't want the extra weight." Alrighty then...But I give her credit, as I do you. And ps: even though I've had my children, I still yearn to adopt, but can't afford the costs, not to mention the wait, so you see, there are two sides to every story. Great post!

Dr. Cynicism said...

My wife and I are just now 1 year into infertility, so it's good to see a different perspective on things to kinda jolt us out of the typical line of thinking.

Tracy Lynn said...

I actually think that you are awesome, and Meg...is pretty much starlight personified. You guys are lucky to have found each other.

I think anyone who has gone through something that is so all consuming has a hard time letting go of it. But, for me anyway, I just didn't want to live my life being personified by my disease(s). I have enough problems without sabotaging myself with those labels.

Kim said...

If you stop being Infertility Woman your Crocs will dominate your identity. Just something to think about.

Jill VT said...

I am so excited for Meg's sibling...from wherever she or he comes. Rooting for you, however it all turns out...!

Riot Kitty said...

However it turns out, Meg is lucky to have you. It says something magnificent that you went through so much to get her!

LL Cool Joe said...

When we were going through the adoption process with both our kids the social workers felt that all the women that couldn't have children naturally had to go through a whole grieving process before they were allowed to adopt a child.

I hated the way they played "God" with so many of these women.

Mandy_Fish said...

What a powerful post. It's beautiful. And it applies to more than infertility (as you know). I feel I had to come to the same realization as a woman who had been cheated on. And the same realization as a wife of a schizophrenic. And before that, as the child of an alcoholic. It was a long, hard road to learn how to not let the tragedies and struggles of my life become my identity. I think this is what they call "wisdom."

Thanks for writing this.

C Lo said...

Fuck yeah!

(I really said that in my head a few times reading this)

Gina said...

I understand that people don't get it, but I can't imagine why anyone would say something like that.

Kelley said...

I really loved this post! We spent lots and lots and lots and lots of money to have the two children we have right now. Although I finally got pregnant, I thought I never would as the journey continued. I still feel like an infertile woman when I hear people talk about infertility issues. I am glad that you are able to look at your experience differently now. I like how you said that you are the mother of a beautiful little girl. So true! Thanks for sharing your story with us.

Patty O. said...

I think this post can relate to many things. Sometimes people say really stupid things to me about having a son with autism. I have to stop myself and realize that they don't get it and that autism doesn't define us. It's hard, though.

Stephanie in Suburbia said...

I think this is a great post. I know I've struggled with what to say to a woman who has adopted a child, esp. when it came up when I was pregnant. I mostly just asked about the experience. Sometimes I felt inadequate myself because I would say "oh, my family is about half adopted" but it sounded like "oh some of my best friends are black/gay/whatever." Honestly, I was just trying to convey "I get the difficulties, but understand the rewards." But with my big fat pregnant belly, I'm not sure how it came across. This was a really honest post.

Granny Annie said...

Sounds like you are turning this into "National count your blessings" week:)

Allison said...

I love this, Libby - great post.

Sam said...

While I still get ruffled when people say stuff like that, I do feel empowered by this post--I like the idea of letting go of this part of my identity. I've had it so long, and I've never cared for it! :)

Riot Kitty said...

Hey, there's something waiting for you on my blog :)

Jen Has A Pen said...

I love your attitude. It's so easy to wallow, I know. I have to remind myself that people, in general, mean well.

harriet glynn said...

Awesome post! I feel like I'm ALMOST at the stage where I give up being "offended" but people's bizarro comments about adoption and race. For the most part, I'm actually ok with most comments. My test is, does that make me want to ball my eyes out? If yes, then I need to deal with it. if no, who cares! Live and let live. Funny thing is, I never, ever thought of not being pregnant as a bonus but sometimes I think, why not go with it?!