Friday, 19 September 2014

A Trigger for Negative Emotions

After my WTF appointment, I prepared to face heavy traffic on my drive home. I also decided that I would call Myrtle. As my new car has bluetooth capability, I thought it would be a good use of time. I hadn't spoken to Myrtle in a while and she had been trying to get in touch with me to offer condolences for my grandmother's death. Once we had exhausted every topic of conversation that wasn't asking about our fertility, she broke over six months of silence, by asking "so, how is that going?" I remembered her utter insensitivity  after my first FET failure, and simply answered with "still not pregnant, just came back from my doctor." I thought that would be enough to shut her up. Apparently not.

"So, do you even have any eggs left?" she asked. Those words hit like a slap in the face. I thought I might be over reacting, but when I told Co-worker she gasped and put her hand over her mouth. With all due respect to my friends with Premature Ovarian Failure and Diminished Ovarian Reserve, what was so insulting to me is that she doesn't understand that this isn't our issue! As a matter of fact, my ovaries were rockstars during our last stim cycle! (not that it mattered) As I started to explain that actually we have three euploid embryos available, it occurred to me that she has absolutely no idea what that means. Husband, who reacted with a palm to the forehead, was just as irritated. "I really broke everything down for her in the simplest of terms. It was the Idiot's Guide to IVF!" I think she meant to ask if we have any embyros left, but as she doesn't know the difference between an oocyte and an embryo, she has no clue how inappropriate it is to ask an infertile woman if she has any eggs left. It makes me feel as if I'm at the point of needing to search under the sofa cushions for loose coins, although when Husband heard that we had 20 oocytes retrieved, he asked my RE if that tactic were employed.

Although along those lines, she delivered another punch with her next question, "how are you able to afford these treatments?" Once again, I felt a bit insulted. I alone earn close to Myrtle and her husband combined, and Husband's salary is not too far behind mine (yeah baby, I'm the breadwinner). Not that it matters, as Myrtle is a trust fund baby, although most of her money is tied up in investments. That question was being asked by someone who decided against a second child, as up until four months ago, her husband didn't have a proper job. A job we're not sure how long it will last as he's unqualified for the position, as was only promoted because the manager likes him personally. That question was being asked by someone whose fertility related costs were less than twenty dollars. Myrtle spent a grand total of $17.99 for a digital pregnancy test. Just one expense that confirmed she was perfectly pregnant and her healthy gorgeous daughter was on the way. Let that sink in for a moment.

Admittedly, I was in a more sensitive state as I was recovering from her "do you even have any eggs left" comment, but for the first time I truly felt as if I were being judged. As if I were frivolously spending or being irresponsible with our money. I could almost hear Myrtle thinking, you're not going to be able to afford a baby if you ever do have one! Among my irrational concerns is that she'll treat us like a charity case if we ever get to that point. More so, I felt that she was criticising us for being on this path; All Jane has to do is just go home and relax! I know so many people who became pregnant after they stopped trying so hard. Or why doesn't she just adopt -that's free! 

So many potential responses entered my head. Most of them involved a combination of the words 'fuck' and 'you' and 'none of your business'. Rather, I decided to invite her into the mindset of an infertile woman. I told her about how I learned I would be receiving a small inheritance from my grandmother on the night before my beta test. Instead of thinking 'oh, that will be great as we'll be having a baby!', my thinking went to 'that will cover further treatments'. Unfortunately, this just gave Myrtle an opening, "I know you're not religious, but don't you believe your grandmother's death will lead to new life?" Actually Myrtle, we already ran that play. Twice. Didn't work. Thanks for trying.

I know it's so hard for Myrtle (or anyone) to find any comforting words in this situation, and I know don't make things easy for her. Yet it never ceases to amaze me; how is it that she knows nothing about infertility but she has mastered saying all the wrong things? I guess I answered my own question.

26 comments:

  1. Ugh your friend is exactly the reason there were only certain people that know we did fertility treatments. I just can't stand the ignorance. It seems like she's not even TRYING to get it. I would have definitely tossed out the big FU! LMAO!

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  2. OMG. She is unbelievable. I just don't know what to say. At least my insensitive friends a) don't know about my situation and b) aren't even in the same league as Myrtle. Do you even have any eggs left? WTF? As someone without any eggs left, I'm also insulted. Take the time, figure it out, keep foot out of mouth.

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  3. Hi there. This is my first time commenting but I wanted to reach out to tell you I'm so sorry that your friend who you're expecting to understand is letting you down. It really sounds like you might need to step away from this friend for awhile. People change, grow and move on. It's not to say that you'll never be friends again, but this friendship is clearly hurting you more than it's helping. Also, I've found with family and friends that Resovle's website has a resource section for family and friends has been a godsend. I have sent the link to a few peole who I was sure "didn't quite understand" and it really helped. It's hard to see things from others' perspectives...and that goes both ways. She's never experienced the pain you're feeling so it's tough for her to really put herself there. Plus there's a lot of medical information that most people don't know or understand to compound it all. You're relaying info, but it's really not getting through. Take care of yourself and do what you need to do but sometimes you just can't get the other person to understand no matter how hard you try.

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  4. Wow. Just wow. I don't even know how to respond to that. I find it insulting. Further more, how anyone would ever think those are appropriate questions to ask an infertile woman, let alone ANY woman just makes my chin drop to the floor. It is none of her business. Ugh.

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  5. No words. Uneducated I can justify but plain stupid and insensitive. No words. I'm so sorry you had to deal with this and I hope you can find comfort here in our community where so many people are walking in your shoes, fighting the same fight, and totally here for YOU.

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  6. Ughh... such an awful conversation. I'm really impressed with how you handled it.

    I too have felt judged about the money we've spent for treatment. Especially since we've got so much student loan debt. I've had many people ask why we don't pay off our student loans and then we'd have enough money for treatment, adoption, etc. Not that's it's any of their business, but student loans don't keep fertile people from starting their family, I'm not sure why it should stop us. AND, by the time we've paid off our student loans, we'd have lost our one and only "advantage", our age. It's an awful feeling to know people are wondering how far you're willing to go and thinking you're crazy for it. So sorry that the phone call went so poorly. It's frustrating that she's not interested in learning anything so that you can carry on a normal conversation.

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  7. Wow... definitely not you. That is extremely insensitive.
    Good for you for responding the way you did. I once had a coworker ask me why we didn't "just" adopt since there are so many children out there in need of a home. He himself has 2 healthy kids (baby and toddler). My reply wasn't nearly as nice as yours...
    I commend you for continuing to reach out to her when she obviously hasn't even taken the time to learn a little bit about IVF so she could better support you.

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  8. Somehow, Myrtle says everything negative that one could possibly even think of saying. In fact, she's absolutely brilliant at it. I can feel your anger and frustration.

    I loved this part. How true!

    That question was being asked by someone whose fertility related costs were less than twenty dollars. Myrtle spent a grand total of $17.99 for a digital pregnancy test. Just one expense that confirmed she was perfectly pregnant and her healthy gorgeous daughter was on the way. Let that sink in for a moment.

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  9. Oh that's awful. I know it's tough to come up with the "right" things to say, but a sincere "how are you feeling?" or "have you decided on your next steps?" would certainly be more appropriate than "do you have any eggs left?" I can't even imagine someone seriously asking that! Myrtle is certainly a piece of work.

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  10. How in the hell has she managed not to hold onto at least one fact about infertility and treatment in all the conversations you have had with her? For what it's worth I personally think 'go fuck yourself' is a perfectly appropriate response to both questions as well as any future questions she asks you.

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  11. I get the impression that maybe Myrtle says the wrong things in lots of different situations. If I had a friend that had a medical condition that I didn't know much about, I would get on google and learn everything I could just so I could understand and be able to contribute to meaningful conversations. But out of everyone in my life that knows about my struggle with infertility, only my sister spent any time online reading about the various treatments I was undergoing and how she could best support me. I know it's hard to explain to other people why you choose to continue this relationship, but obviously she is a person of value in your life. Consider being more forthright with her about how painful and condescending her verbiage is. When you are finally established in a healthy pregnancy, the stupid comments don't stop and they certainly still sting.

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  12. She is the worst. It's like she is TRYING to say horrible things to give you fodder for your blog.

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  13. Wow. She isn't even trying to understand what you are going through. Conversations like that are why I didn't tell very many people while we were in the midst of it. The people I did tell never really asked me about it. Ever. It used to bug me, but I suppose that's better than the crap that comes out of Myrtle's mouth. Ugh. Sorry you have to deal with that.

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  14. FUCKING Myrtle. At this point, I just feel like you're given it more than the old college try and you should dump her insensitive ass. Something along the lines of "I'm sorry, but as long as we're going through our infertility process I find your friendship to be insensitive and draining. It's not you, it's me...no wait, it's you." What a bitch.

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  15. I gasped at what Myrtle said!!!! How could anyone - whether they understand IVF or not - make a comment like that knowing what you've been going through!

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  16. Ya. Definitely judgement in her comments, from my perspective. Ew.

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  17. Ugh, I'm so sorry you had to deal with (super) dumb comments, especially after an emotionally difficult appointment. I personally feel that if people can't be bothered to educate themselves even a little bit (yes, that may mean making some effort outside of what I tell them about our situation) then they don't belong in our support network. Incidentally, I'm sure you've seen this, but I think it is a good resource for informing people about the emotional impact of IF if one doesn't want to go too far into personal story/emotions: Mel's infertility Manifesto http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2013/04/infertility-manifesto/

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  18. Wow....just wow. I'm embarrassed for her. So ignorant.

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  19. Ouch. She amazes me every time. Maybe search youtube for "Picard double facepalm" before you talk to her next time? (Also, how come the no-talking-about-infertility rule was broken? Lack of sensitivity on her end?)

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  20. Ugh! This made me want to crawl out of my own skin. My infertility made me end up losing a handful of people who used to be close friends of mine. Two very good friends of mine are people who I don't even speak to anymore because of the dumb and hurtful things they had said to be in response to my infertility. It's so hard.... Ugh!

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  21. You are a saint for maintaining this friendship. I don't know how you do it. But... I think if you still want to keep the friendship, really restrict the topic from now on to something OTHER than your fertility. I would have snapped at: "So, do you even have any eggs left?" Sheesh....

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  22. Is she very socially awkward or is it just ignorance? It sounds like she's just saying the first thing that comes to her mind with no filter. If they didn't know, most people might say something like "if you don't mind saying, what is your issue again?" but never "you got any eggs left?" And the financial comment... wow. Totally not her business and definitely rude. Even if you didn't make the money you do, who is she to judge what you spend it on?
    I'd ask for a copy of her credit card bill and bank statement so you can decide whether she is spending her money wisely.

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  23. Ahh, good ol' Myrtle...always baffling how insensitive she is. At least she's consistent! I had friends who were much more sensitive about my struggles but it still stung like a bitch when they quickly got pregnant with number 2 after thinking about it for 5 min! I had to distance myself from those friends cause it was just too hard and I was just too bitter!

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  24. oh how I love a good Myrtle story. I'm just so sorry they are at your expense. She is unbelievable. I think even someone that has no clue about infertility generally have more tact than she does. I'm sorry Jane.

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  25. I'd like to say I'm surprised, but nothing anyone says anymore surprises me. Nothing constructive ever came from phone conversations with my own "Myrtle", so I stopped having them all together. Although her questions and comments weren't nearly as insensitive as Myrtle's, her actions lately have spoken VOLUMES. I'm sorry there are ignorant people in our lives that refuse to respect the place we're in!

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  26. If you want to keep your friendship with Myrtle it sounds like you need to enforce a no-talking-about-babies-or-infertility ban. I'm not sure how much more I could take of the insensitive comments if I were you!

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