10 May 2006


I’m finding that we in the infertility world are hypersensitive*. And we expect everyone around us to be hypersensitive to our hypersensitivity. We love to rant and rave about the very pregnant co-worker who kept rubbing her belly in front of us. About the lady at the meeting who kept gushing about her kids. About the very casual acquaintance, who for some reason knows we are dealing with infertility, yet asks if we’re considering adoption, because you know, her sister’s husband’s cousin’s sister-in-law adopted and then bang got pregnant.

I think we have much higher expectations from the world at large than if we were dealing with a different issue from infertility, like allergies or diseases. If I were a diabetic (chas v’shalom [Gd forbid], ptooey, ptooey), and went to a friend’s for lunch, and said friend put out only diabetic cookies for dessert, I would be extremely touched and moved. If she put out regular sweets and diabetic cookies, I would be extremely touched at her thoughtfulness. But I would never expect her – or anyone - to do that.

Why then, do we expect the fertile world to treat infertiles like that? Why do we expect our friends, relatives, co-workers, very pregnant second cousin – with all the other things going on in their lives – to be super extremely considerate to our situations? Why do we get upset when someone in our social circle invites us to a baby party? Why do we expect that among all their friends, their own busy lives, their planning for this party, they should remember that it might be painful for us to get this invitation? Is it a release to be able to rant at something that is seemingly unreasonable? Does it give us some measure of control, since infertility is something over which we have absolutely no control? Why do we seem to have such higher expectations from the world at large than people in other, life-affecting situations?

Points to ponder.

*Yes, I know I’m generalizing. Deal with it.

**Note: I am not referring here to people “who should know better,” our best friends, other infertiles, or people with whom we’ve shared our pain. They’re a different story all together, when if they let us down.

***Timing is everything. This very discussion is addressed in the most recent issue of the ATIME magazine.


At 10/5/06 5:30 a.m., Anonymous Truly Tested said...

All excellent questions. I'll have to think about this. Perhaps because having a baby is supposed to be something that is everyone's birth right (no pun intended). Versus a disease or condition that only affects part of the population. Perhaps because IF has shame associated with it and therefore demands more sensitivity. Perhaps because to have a baby is so many women's life dream and when it is taken away, one simply cannot take on or absorb more pain.

At 10/5/06 8:11 a.m., Blogger persephone said...

I don't know, if someone knew I was diabetic? I think I would expect her to put out sugar free desserts for me!

But I also think infertility might legitimately be in a category of its own. Because it's such a combination of pain and limbo. It hurts every month, but it could always change next month, or next year or next treatment. There's no obvious point in time to accept that this is just the way it's going to be -- mourn for it once and for all -- and truly move on. So I think it stays much rawer and closer to the surface. And I think maybe because of that, an infertile's defenses might be down a lot more often.

Not that anyone would understand that, if they hadn't been through it. But I think it's okay to wish, if not expect, that they would.

At 11/5/06 6:59 p.m., Anonymous LC said...

Allergies aren't always better. Different, yes, but not better:

A deathly allergic friend has been known to "reminder call" friends who have invited her for a Shabbos/yom tov meal that *anything* with peanuts being served - even in another dish, warning her, like your example of diabetic - will make her very ill.

I'm not sure being in the room with it would make her stop breathing, but eating something with traces would. If it touches her skin, she needs Benadryl ASAP.

So on the one hand, she has learned to not expect the sensitivity, and at least it isn't a private issue like IF, and she isn't emotional about it, but on the other hand she is physically more at the mercy of those around her. . . . but I don't refrain from EVER serving peanut products in case someone I don't know is allergic, although I do tend to ask guests about allergies.

Maybe that's part of the problem? - If someone is very private about their IF issues, it's harder for others to assume and act on "well, X *may* not want to step foot in my house because I have small children" or "I have to tell A not to invite B to my baby shower b/c B doesn't have kids, maybe she's infertile" - ??? - what if B gets insulted that she isn't invited?

I will say that reading IF blogs has definitely made me more aware of when I do stick my foot in my mouth, if that helps any.

At 17/5/06 5:24 a.m., Blogger projgen said...

I certainly think it's okay to wish that people would be brilliantly sensitive to infertiles and always remember that certain situations/events might be difficult for us. But that's not realistic. Even though I spend most of my time these days wishing people would be brilliantly sensitive...

I think infertiles should find a way to delicately suggest to our family and friends whom we've told about our struggles that they read some of the infertility blogs. Just to give them an idea of the gamut of emotions we deal with. And like lc pointed out, perhaps they might become more aware of foot-in-mouth disease.


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