Wednesday, October 13, 2010

surviving THE SMILE

I have had a day from outer space.  First of all, it started with my phone ringing 15 minutes before my usual wake up time, with a request to come to work urgently.  Which I did, skipping breakfast (i.e. the morning juice).  I then had to run around all day like a chicken without a head, skipping lunch as well, and having only a 125 ml orange juice and a cup of tea with some soy milk, which I have decided to include in this fast after all, but only in small quantities.  By 3 pm I was tired, and running low on glucose. I decided that half a cup of coffee with half a cup of water will do the trick and ended up with sweats and shakes only 15 minutes later, as the caffeine was quickly absorbed by my empty stomach and went straight to my brain.  Brrr, I thought I was going to faint in the middle of an arrhythmia.  Finally, I made it home in one piece, and had my half a litre of freshly squeezed juice, plus one honeydew melon.  Suffice it to say, I feel good!

Anyway, onto the post:

As an infertile, I frequently get to be the confidante and hand holder of many other women who perceive themselves as infertile.  In other words, when women first try to conceive, they expect that things will happen quickly and start to panic if it takes sometimes longer, such as, you know, more than one month.  Oftentimes, when a young healthy woman has been trying to conceive for several months, she starts to worry that there might be a problem, even though everything is still happening within the normal timeframe for conception.  She starts to feel defective, and her self esteem goes down.  She is also worrying about what kind of help might be available, what do infertility investigations consist of, etc.  Mostly though, she needs a shoulder to cry on, someone to confide her fears in.  That someone should ideally understand what she is going through.

Enter me, the town's obstetrical disaster, as I like to call myself lovingly.  I hold hands, reassure, and try hard hard hard to boost the self confidence which is slipping down the valley of despair.  I teach them my coping skills. I let them know that, whatever happens, they are still worth it, that they are not defective, and that their value as human beings has not changed.  I don't usually succeed in convincing them as such, but I do believe that sharing their worries with someone who clearly has it so much worse is quite therapeutic, since I seem to be surviving a rather tough karmic blow and I am still standing.

Usually though, because they are not really infertile, maybe just slightly subfertile, all of these women eventually conceive, almost always sail through their pregnancies, and deliver healthy babies.  Worries aside, as soon as they are secure in their pregnancy, they gradually or suddenly withdraw from me, almost embarrassed about their previous weakness and doubt.  There is also the possibility that, as the town's obstetrical disaster, I might be seen as able to cast bad luck onto other's pregnancies, or maybe just able to remind others (by my sheer existence) of the many horrendous things that can happen unexpectedly during a pregnancy (such as, you know, miscarriage, dead baby, incompetent cevix, failed cerclage, dead baby, retained placenta, life-threatening hemorrhage, dead baby, etc).

I understand.  I understand the need to stay away and focus on being positive.  I understand the need to feel protected from such sad reminders of our human frailty, especially at a time when hormones are high and emotions even higher.  I do not take anybody's withdrawal as personal.  And, as a long-term infertile, I understand my place in the reproductive hierarchy of this world, namely being the last one on the list to get pregnant (if ever), and the most likely one to lose a pregnancy.  I have made peace with this fact and am familiar with the daily heaviness in my chest and the occasional lump in my throat.  I don't question anymore that this is my place in life, I don't fight it, I feel it and I accept it, and I move on to feeling other things as well.  I have learned how to manage my pain.

But I must say, it would be much easier to live my life if these women, previously my friends or close acquaintances, would stop gloating quite so self satisfied and happy when they announce (to me at least)  their pregnancies.  Or look at me with pity and wish me luck.  I know that it is my job alone to work through my pain and my own inferiority complexes, but really, must the motherly happy self-satisfied fertile smile be shone upon my face quite so freely?  I have decided today that I must work out a strategy to survive THE SMILE, the beaming radiant glow that other more worthy women who have achieved motherhood will periodically flash at me throughout the rest of my life, as a reminder of what I have missed out on.  Perhaps the most effective way is to imagine them with the front upper incisor missing.  That will put a dent in the aura and give me some space to breathe.