An author's note: Due to the popularity of this post (my most commmented post), it was reposted to all our sister sites. Just reading over the comments it makes me feel like my words matter.
November 30, 2008
If A Man Can Get Pregnant So Easily, Why Can't I?
Lately, I feel like every time I turn on the news the pregnant man is staring at me. From ABC to CNN, Thomas Beatie was showing off his lovely little girl and announcing that a second child was on the way. While I watched the various interviews, I thought to myself here is a man who is expecting his second child without what seemed to be many fertility issues. From the information I have gathered, the man didn't need to go through any assisted reproductive measures. Yes, the couple used donated sperm but they didn't even need the services of a doctor for the insemination process. In fact, his wife used some sort of bird feeder, at home,to impregnate her husband. I kid you not. A man is expecting child number two because his wife got him pregnant with a device you use to feed a bird.
In my life, I wish the same were true. I wish my husband, Wally, could come along with a bird feeder and make me pregnant but this is not the path I was given in life. Am I bitter towards the pregnant man? A little and not because he is a man but because he seems to be able to get pregnant more easily than me. To get this woman pregnant (meaning me), which supposedly my body was born to do, I need a team of highly paid specialists, hours of mediation, a vegetable-based diet, various yoga positions, many attempts, buckets of money and lots of prayers. While am I blessed to say I was given my miracle after fours years of trying to conceive, I still get a little upset at my non-fertility challenged counterparts. I know it isn't their fault they were given beautiful ovaries (while I was given two rotten eggs) and I should feel happy for them...I should. Don't get me wrong for the most part I do but there is that part of me that is still jealous and can't let it go. But what really drives me up a wall (and I speak for my husband as well when I say this), is the unwanted fertility advice. I know, I know, I know people mean well but for someone who has had yet ANOTHER failed IVF cycle the LAST thing they want to hear is advice on how to get pregnant. So the following is a guide of what not to say to someone who tells you they are having a hard time conceiving.
Never say, "just relax and it will happen." Most women who are suffering from fertility issues have medical problems and all the relaxing, meditating, yoga, wine and vacationing in the world is not going to help them get pregnant. Yes, these things do help you stay sane and do create a hospitable environment for the eggs to grow but it won't change the fact that some has endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome or low ovarian reserve. At a family get together, no less a one year old birthday party, a relative of my husband asked what our hold up was why weren't we having babies yet. Wally kindly explained that we were trying. Wally's relative then told me I needed to "chill out". I had to leave the table for fear of punching him out. Just a warning for people who say those sort of things, if I happened to be in the middle of a cycle and my hormones were raging, I could not have been held responsible for the beating I would have given that man. He was lucky.
Never say, "I know someone who..." Do you really know someone who got pregnant after they adopted a little baby from Cambodia? Do you really know someone who got pregnant even though their tubes were tied? Do you really know someone who after years and years of trying out of blue got pregnant? I don't think you do. It always seems to be someone who knows someone who knows someone. I have never had a first hand account story of fertility hope. Instead, it is always my sister's sister-in-law's cousin twice removed had a child after years of trying by just using Chinese herbs. I am calling it right now -- liar. Here is another little secret, the women who have fertility issues HATE these stories. They are all fine and sweet and wonderful for that mysterious person you don't really know but for the women who have had their hearts broken countless times -- cycle after cycle -- it just breaks their hearts all over again. For the woman who has been told her chances of conception are about 1%, it makes them depressed to know that those stories are just fairy tales. They wish they were real but not for the woman in the story but for them.
Never say, "why don't you try FILL IN THE BLANK HERE?" Unless you have been there done that and it has worked for you don't offer false hope. As a woman who struggled for several years to have a child, I was looking for any miracle cure. I tried it all. Yes, I do believe that a combination of western and eastern medicine is what eventually got me pregnant. I do also know what it felt like one day to stand in the back of my church as a woman with two kids and another on the way told me to try some herbs that a friend of hers used to get pregnant. I had no idea what she was saying all I know is that I wanted to be her. I wanted to be carrying a baby I didn't care what advice she had for me. I also know I couldn't go back to church for awhile after that encounter it made me angry and sad all at once. A place I always felt like I belonged made me feel unwanted like an outcast because I didn't have a baby.
As I think about trying for a second child, I'm not sure I can't put myself through the pain and heartache. I know I will encounter the "when is number two on the way" questions (and have already including on my walk today with my son by a complete stranger) but I will continue to swallow my pride and smile and answer the most tactful way I can, "oh we'll see." And if someone decides to push, I can't be held responsible for what I say next. Remember I warned you.
The Young Girl and the Sea
8 months ago