We’ve started telling.  Telling is a large unwieldy project that I’m trying to organize.  I’m putting a lot of thought into how people would want to be told.  Of course all of y’all who read this and are IRL friends I don’t have to tell. 


My first priority has been the friends who I believe have been disappointed in their own fertility.  This isn’t as easy to figure out as you might think.  Since so many of us got married in our very late thirties or after, I don’t see the entitlement that younger girls have about fertility.  I actually see the opposite, and maybe this is just everyone’s general reticence to talk about it.  I am one of the few women I know who comes right out and says “Yes I’m over 40, and yes I really want a family and I’m willing to do a lot to get one.” 


Part of the reticence comes from the fact that many of my friends are card-carrying Christians and in many circles I think it’s uncool to wish for something that we believe only God can give.  This comes in layers: the top layer is about wanting to at least seem willing to accept whatever God gives without complaint.  This mindset sometimes can spawn hateful comments like “It wasn’t meant to be,” or “maybe God doesn’t want you to be a mother,” to which I suggest the effective two word reply: “Britney Spears.”  Or, the more eloquent “Britney f***ing Spears.”


The layer beneath is more about raw fear – what if God knows the desire of my heart and just won’t give it?  That is scary and it was where the rubber met the road with regard to God and me.  I now think that God just wasn’t going to hand me a baby but He doesn’t mind the lengths I have gone to acquire one – if He did mind, I wouldn’t be sitting here feeling so pukey because I wouldn’t be pregnant.  Sure, God does hand babies to some (c.f. Britney Spears) who don’t know, don’t want, and/or don’t deserve them, and who knows why?  I think part of the answer to that question will only be clear to me when my own baby comes; that a baby is a gigantic burden, a lot of work, and not unequivocally good, particularly when the recipient isn’t equipped.


Anyway, all this combines in a way that makes it difficult for me to know who might feel sad when hearing about my improbably 45-year-old conception, and who might not feel much except mildly happy for me.   (The idea that other people’s lives aren’t all about me is also just sinking in).  And this may be the same with most people.  But since I don’t know for sure, I’m proceeding as if those who seem okay, may not be.  I’m telling the way I wanted to be told: in private, not face-to-face, and without pretending that “it’s in the water” or that we’re all enjoying the same bubble of good fortune.


I’m surprised to find that opportunities to be insensitive are everywhere even as I try so hard not to be.  It occurs to me that some people who may hear a “j’accuse!” in my professions of concern for their own feelings, as if I am saying “well, I’m pregnant and I’m sorry because I know you’re jealous.”  Sheesh.  First of all, “jealous” doesn’t begin to describe the welter of conflicting, legitimate emotions that an unpregnant friend might feel in this situation.  “Jealous” is also one of those forbidden emotions that everyone still has.  So I’m trying, really hard, to just say two things: 1) if you have some disappointment in this area, I hope I’m not making it worse and 2) I don’t have expectations about your level of “happy for me.” 


There is so much more that I want to say.  I told a friend recently who I had bored to tears with discussions of my IVFs, a friend who’d done many many IUIs herself and then gave it up.  She asked if it was “science or nature?”  I thought, nature?  Are you kidding?  Do people still think that a 45-year old who has never conceived without help is going to spontaneously get pregnant?  I guess they do. 


The bottom line is I feel guilty:  1) that I got pregnant when some did not.  2) that people might think it happened without help, feeding the myths about over-40 pregnancy as more attainable than it is.  3) that people will think I used my own eggs, also a bit of a long shot at 45.  I don’t want to make anyone’s pain worse.  I don’t want anyone’s denial or misinformation to get worse because of me. 


But, really, what can I do?  Nobody wants to receive an “I’m pregnant (and I’m sorry)” email from me that goes on and on about how sorry I am that they might possibly be feeling some negative emotions.  Nobody wants a lecture from me about their real, true chances of conceiving over 40.  And nobody wants to hold my hand and assuage my guilt and uneasiness when I’m the pregnant one who’s supposed to be annoyingly happy. 


So I’m trying to keep my apologetic paragraph to two sentences when I use the email format to tell.  I’m trying not to shudder with guilt with I think of the baby shower I have always longed to have. 


I’m also remembering my own sister-in-law’s clumsy remark when telling me that she had conceived, on the first try, in the exact month she planned, for the third time: “I wish I could give you…”  It was lame and awkward but I knew what she meant, and I felt so much pain that no amount of smooth wonderful phrases would have helped anyway. 


Sigh.  I guess (I hope) I’ll just get better at this with practice. What are your Telling Experiences, either as recipient or teller?

Advertisements