Saturday, 24 November 2012

Myrtle's visit

I think that other than running into an ex and his new girlfriend (or possibly wife), the dynamic between a pregnant woman and her infertile friend has to be one of the most awkward. Let’s be honest about what both are feeling (although I only know one side of the relationship) The pregnant woman feels badly for her friend, and wants to find the right words to comfort her; but secretly, she’s relieved that she dodged the infertility bullet. The infertile friend does her best to be supportive, but deep down feels jealous and even a little resentful, especially if her friend conceived very easily or if the pregnancy was unplanned.

Myrtle was coming to visit for a long weekend. We grew up together and since I moved to the other side of the country five years ago, I cherish the time we spend with each other, but I knew this visit would be a bit difficult. I didn’t want to tell her about my situation. I didn’t want to burden her joy or make her feel uncomfortable about sharing details during her special time. She arrived and to remind me once more that life is unfair, looked absolutely great. She had that glow about her and wasn’t even showing and nearly eighteen weeks. As if I wasn’t jealous enough. When the collective conversation turned to us having children, I replied, “I don’t see it happening” which I thought was a succinct answer that would end the conversation. “Why not?” she pressed. Husband came to my support “Well, we’re just so busy right now, we barely have time to ourselves” She wasn’t picking up on any hints “Well, we’re busy and I have a bun in the oven!” she countered. She went on to describe on she was barely paying attention to where she was in her cycle and it didn’t even dawn on her that she could be pregnant until she noticed she was five days late. I was screaming so loudly inside my head, I thought it might explode.

For me, one of the most humbling aspect of infertility was accepting that my experience working in women’s health held no advantages, and I had to get past feeling like a failure on a professional level. So it was all the more infuriating to me that she could get pregnant so quickly and be so seemingly unaware about it. I soon learnt that you can keep any secret from a friend who has known you for thirty plus years. As soon as we were alone, Myrtle shared her observation that I seemed “distant” when she talks about her pregnancy. I divulged my secret and felt an instant sense of relief as I no longer had to conceal my angst. Myrtle was actually a pretty good listener and was very supportive, but then she went to the words that make all infertile women cringe. "Why don't you two take a vacation together? It always seems that babies are conceived from vacation sex" As if a beautiful exotic location has magical powers to enhance fertility. "Well, that's really antidotal and it is really more coincidental that you happen to be ovulating during your trip." I respond with facts that are oblivious to her. She presses on, "It makes sense to conceive on vacation, because you're so relaxed" 

The Relaxation Theory. The mother idea to the vacation notion; this is truly the worst suggestion to give to an infertile couple. Firstly it implies that we are doing something wrong and are some how to blame. That our calculating and ovulation predicting are some how the problem rather that the solution. I can almost feel that I am being mocked, for taking a scientific approach, rather that the 'just let it happen' method, but when you are already failing the Advanced Placed version of conception, it doesn't make sense to go old school. Secondly, it's flawed. It's not as if once you're on a beach with a Mai Tai in hand that your LH surge is triggered and your fallopian tubes open wider and the uterus is any more ready to implant a fertilised egg. "Relaxation isn't really a factor; it has to do with the fact that you are probably having more sex on vacation." I continue to defeat her argument by reminding her that our holiday this year will be going to England to visit with both our parents. Living on the other side of the world means not only no available grandparents for babysitting a potential grandchild, but vacations are consumed with obligatory visits. There will be no relaxation nor sex. I continue to find non-scientific reasons just to defeat her suggestion. "I really wouldn't want to conceive our child in the same house where my husband was conceived. That's kind of creepy."

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