I got some great responses to my last post.  A lot were offline.  There are some strong feelings, and some hurt feelings, flowing among the fertile and infertile and in-between who responded.  I learned a lot. 

By the way, referring to people as “fertile” or “infertile” is probably bugging some of you, but frankly I don’t feel like writing a longer, gentler phrase like “generally had a baby when she generally hoped to” or whatever.  You know what I mean by those terms and they’ll have to do.

I was surprised how hurt some fertile gals were (are) by, uh, us.  By angry, grieving people like me who have grieved and bitched and vented both online and in real life, and at fertile friends most specifically. 

I’m lucky – I started trying at such a late age that I’ve had no close friends also trying, and while lots of us got married at or near age 40, we certainly didn’t expect that getting pregnant would be easy.  I remember the twinship I felt with girl friends when I was younger, the way that close girl friend was my mirror.  We had so much in common, how could the big important things happen to us so differently?  It scared me when she would suddenly meet some guy and ditch me, or when all my girl friends seemed to get married.  It always looks like jealousy, but for me it was also fear.  If they got married, why didn’t I?  Was there something wrong with me that I couldn’t see?

So while there is a lot of anger and venting going on here, my friend body count is actually low, mostly because I haven’t had a lot of that twinship with girl friends.  It fades as you get older because everybody’s path gets more different with every decade. 

I can understand now how rupturing to a friendship this difference in fertility can be, especially since it’s one of those things that seems to come out of no where.  But I’m ready to see the fertile point of view today, more than I could before.

The bottom line for me was always that my pain in not being able to get pregnant – even assisted – was greater than any pain that a fertile woman could experience.  I never stopped to think very much about that assumption even though I’ve made it mistakenly in other areas before now.   Proceeding as I did, with that assumption as truth, meant that I had permission to think and say angry things about any woman who was or seemed “fertile,” and that definition has expanded to mean “more fertile than me,” which category expands with every IVF I go through.  I genuinely thought that their fertility meant they couldn’t be hurt, because they were so lucky and happy, having the thing I could not have; or that they felt a bit guilty for it – or should have. 

Because of this presumed lack of pain in their lives, I thought: Fertile people should be careful, they shouldn’t be too happy, they shouldn’t take it for granted, they shouldn’t flaunt their big bellies, (and how do you hide them exactly?) they shouldn’t talk about any of the negatives or complain.  They shouldn’t invite us to their showers but they also shouldn’t isolate us.  They shouldn’t have too many children, nor should they have them by accident; they shouldn’t have them too young, nor too old.  A few years ago I even thought that someone I knew shouldn’t be having another baby that year at all because it was too painful for me

All this got a little crazy in my head.  It was all based on the assumption that these fertile people have perfect control over timing, health of their babies, birth experience, whatever.  Compared to the control I have, it sure seemed perfect.  It was based on the idea that their lives are easy and mine is hard, my life is painful and full of grief and theirs is a picnic, etc.  Very extreme. 

The best gift I have been given has come from the women who did break through my defenses, had their pregnancies and their babies, and allowed their lives to unfold before me.  The woman two paragraphs up, who I thought “shouldn’t” have had her baby to spare me pain?  She did control the timing by getting pregnant the month she chose, and she controlled the sex by reading the one chapter of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” that tells you how.  She did have labor induced in order to have the baby home in time for the holidays, and her doctor either allowed or encouraged that. 

But guess what?  Now she has a lot of kids and a full time job and she can’t control much.  They are exhausted, pulled in many different directions, and things like health, nutrition, exercise, marriage and family time fall through the cracks.  She couldn’t stop herself from turning forty, and she can’t stop her kids and her family members and her husband from being strong-willed individual humans who don’t always follow her agenda.  The amount of control she had early on makes the facts of life – we can’t control much – difficult, and she is often miserable. 

Hm, so her life is perfect?  Not so much.  What was I jealous of, again?  I forget.  I’m starting to value the lessons that infertility has taught us – that life isn’t easy, that I’m not really entitled to much and I shouldn’t expect life to cooperate.  That my husband still adores me even with horrible moods and weight gain and the loss of some of my femininity.  Not just that we can weather seasons of grief like miscarriages, but how we do it and what it will look like.  Why should I worry about getting old?  I’m already taking 7 medications a day and feeling most of them.  At least this is only a preview and it’s doable.

I’m ready to say now that, for me, those early, black-and-white assumptions about the balance of pain are wrong.  Pain is pain, pain is individual, pain is contextual.  It’s not for me to know whose pain is more and I’m not entitled to that kind of emotional license. 

It feels like a brittle thing in my heart that has been broken by the weight of truth.  Earlier of these have broken; the idea that getting pregnant unassisted was my right.  It’s not – it’s a roll of the dice and I lost.  The idea that because I had a troubled childhood means I’ll get a break now – hey! maybe I have gotten breaks.  Just not the fertility I hoped for.  It may be God’s to promise, but He did not promise nor did He give us that.

God doesn’t owe me, and fertile people don’t owe me.  The sooner I realize that and embrace it as truth, the less I will expect and the less angry I will be. 

The more of my entitlements and expectations that break, the better I feel.  It’s hell, the breaking, because I don’t seek it out and I don’t want it to happen and it takes sucky life experiences to weigh down and break some of these long-held assumptions of mine.  In Christian circles everyone talks about being “broken” and how wonderful it is to embrace God’s will.  There is a song that says “brokenness is what I long for.”  This is ridiculous and one of the things about contemporary Christian music & culture that can make me crazy.   Anyone who has experienced the breaking isn’t going to sing about it so lightly since it generally sucks.  But I’m better for it and maybe I’ll be able to face what comes without hurting myself and other people.   As much.

I sure don’t want to waste whatever good things come (not to mention the ones I already have) in disappointment and anger.