Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Why Everyday Needs to be National Infertility Awareness

I was naive in thinking that the questions of when I'll be having a second were going to be nonexistent. I've gotten this far (3 1/2 years) without a lot of curiosity directed my way, so it seemed logical to assume that I dodged that always-awkward bullet. I even let the preparation for my canned response slide in the back of my brain, nearly forgotten. But lately the questions have been cropping up again, despite my out-and-proud IF status, and as always, I give them my standard (though sorely unrehearsed) answer:

"I don't know. It took us almost five years to have G. We needed a lot of medical intervention, so I'm not sure we'll get that lucky again, but we'll see... "

If they ask further, I am always happy to share more. In fact, most probably regret asking because I stop just short of getting out a diagram of the female reproductive system. But more often than not my response solicits a polite, "Oh, OK. I hope it happens for you" from them after which the subject is dropped entirely. Except today.

Today, a particularly thick-headed co-worker of mine kept on the subject. It baffled me that she asked whether we would have another given that she's an active Facebook user and I had been making up for lost NIAW time with multiple posts about our story just a few days before (my guess: I'm probably on her blocked list-ha!).

At first the conversation was benign enough. And then, it happened. As if she had just consulted a manual on exactly what NOT to say to someone who is infertile, she went straight to a few of these tried and true gems:

"Maybe you should just leave well enough alone."

"You know, I've heard that when people stop trying so hard, it happens for them. My brother's friend's sister tried for a long time and when they finally stopped trying, it happened!"

"Adoption? Oh, no, you want to stay away from that. You have no idea what you'll get. You've seen what those kids turn out like."


I'll wait a moment while you collect your jaw off the floor from that last one.

Here's the crazy thing. I've heard similar responses from people who (prior to saying them) I considered to be some of the most brilliant people I know. This particular coworker, while no Rhode's Scholar, is by society's standards an educated and moderately intelligent woman. But that doesn't buy you common sense and emotional intelligence, does it?  In fact, some of the brightest people I know have also turned out to be some of the densest when it comes to understanding infertility. I have one person in my life in particular who was an ivy leaguer and were it not for my very thorough 'training', he would still be saying some of the same dipshit things to this day.

Mel from Stirrup Queens recently revisited her NIAW post from last year about how everyday is National Infertility Awareness for her. That post in particular resonated with me, but not nearly as much as it did today when I realized that despite my social media efforts in the last week, I was still confronted with this obvious need for continuing education about infertility. Laying down a few carefully-worded status updates once a year just won't cut it when these are the comments I'm still getting after all this time.

There simply is no true understanding of infertility unless you've been there. We all know that. The million ridiculous comments on articles about infertility spell that out plainly enough. But that doesn't mean that our efforts are all for naught.  I know that if we keep taking every small opportunity like this, little-by-little, we'll get there.

And what did I say to her? Well, I (politely, of course) set her straight that infertility is very much a medical condition, that my family building decisions were my own and that no, 'those' kids (meaning adopted) do not follow the exact trajectory of the select few she was referencing (and, by the way, she works with kids with emotional disturbance--that's a pretty skewed sample from which to draw a conclusion about any population). Whether my words actually moved her remains to be seen, but I think she reminded me why everyday needs to be about infertility awareness.

4 comments:

AnotherDreamer said...

Wow, what ignorance! Yes, every single day is indeed. Conversations like that always remind me too. Sorry you've had questions and comments like that creeping back up though, that has to be hard :( We're kind of lucky in that regard, V is young and most people know what we went through to have him- they have automatically assumed we are one and done. Don't know why, but that's what most people think, and we're not saying anything.

banditgirl said...

I kind of teared up actually reading this, about "those kids". Then I felt anger, and was happy your co-worker was not sitting right across. How is this possible?

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Adams Scott said...

You made some good points there. I looked on the internet to learn more about the issue and found most people will go along with your views on this site.
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