Of all the story-lines on Sex and the City that received critical acclaim, I don't think the ones that addressed Charlotte's infertility were given enough credit. Of course my perspective has changed so much since I first watched those episodes. As I worked with women who were facing unplanned pregnancies, I could appreciate Miranda's annoyance with Charlotte's resentment. Now I can appreciate those clips through Charlotte's eyes. Your friend falls pregnant effortlessly while you learn your only option is with sophisticated scientific intervention. Putting on the brave face and smiling at a baby's first birthday party after your own pregnancy resulted in a miscarriage. I had no idea that those would become my experiences.
Fortunately, I've become proficient in playing the role of a woman who doesn't want children. During their stay, neither my mother, nor my mother-in-law approached the subject with me. My mother caught a glimpse of Co-worker's twins on my Facebook page and started fawning over them, which I thought might lead her to ask some questions, but perhaps I changed the subject in time. Prior to her arrival, I feared we might have a moment where it would feel right to confess our infertility struggles. That opportunity never presented, and thus my skeletons remained buried in my bathroom cabinet.
My friend H and I once discussed that the maximum duration to be a guest or to have house guests is four days, five tops. Sharing close quarters and surrendering your private space only leads to tension. Unfortunately, the trade off for living so far away from your family is that their visits are for extended lengths of time... and too often violates the four to five day rule. Such would be the case, as my mother and I broke into a fight only hours before her flight was scheduled to depart.
We reconciled before it was time to say goodbye, but I realised that we've been having the same argument for years. She feels that she doesn't know what to say or how to talk to me, but she desperately wants to have a relationship with me. As I still value her approval, I'm sensitive to anything she says that resembles criticism, which often makes it hard to talk with her. I thought back to the night before the BFN from IUI#4 and how we imagined announcing the pregnancy to our parents in Hawaii.
Of all the potential joys that such a moment would have produced, perhaps the one I was most anticipating was opening up to my mother. I could finally reveal how hard it was to host Myrtle's shower and to hear everyone call her baby 'little Myrtlepants'. We could share a laugh over all the stupid things Myrtle has said to me. Now I wonder if that is just another fantasy. I'm banking on the fact that her elation would eclipse any hurt feelings that I didn't confide in her earlier. That she would understand that I needed to avoid any additional pressures and that it wasn't personal? What if we were informing her that our quest came up empty? Would my secrecy only serve to confound her disappointment?
As I pondered these issues even further, I have to ask myself if, like a dysfunctional couple, am I hoping that a baby can improve relations with my mother? That this is the final thing I need to do to secure her approval -grant her wish of being a grandmother. I've long accepted that we are trying to procreate for our own desires, not our parents, but we can't avoid considering how they will be affected. I can't deny how much this means to them. I like to think that if we have a baby, it will bring my mother and I closer together, but it can't fix the deficits in our relationship, and it will bring much more tension and arguments. Perhaps starting with disclosing our fertility struggles...