Tuesday, 12 February 2013

You can go home again...

Returning from my trip East, I wonder why I had debated so much about whether or not to go. I had forgotten how much I enjoy visiting New York City. I didn't have any specific plans, but I walked around quite a bit and just appreciated the energy and the vibe of the city that seems to draw everyone into its atmosphere. I met up with a former colleague for drinks and I had lunch with Myrtle, who works in the city. I realise that too often I focus on the ways that Myrtle frustrates and annoys me, and don't note enough that she is a great friend, who I love dearly. I was really happy to have some time alone with her. I felt reminded that despite all the changes in our lives, our friendship is still intact. However, Myrtle wouldn't be Myrtle if she didn't say something to irritate me. (She also happens to look great.)  In the middle of lunch, she mentioned that her friend Lisa (a former co-worker from 3-4 jobs ago) is pregnant. I met Lisa once at Myrtle's 30th birthday party (7 years ago) and didn't recognise her at Myrtle's wedding over a year ago. So if this detail wasn't insignificant already, she proceeded to mention that it was Lisa who had told her it would take 6 months to get pregnant and then Lisa conceived on her first cycle after stopping her pills.

I've heard this line repeated from some of my patients. Who are these people perpetuating this notion that it takes six months to conceive? Statistics of normal fertility report that after six months, 50% of TTC couples will be pregnant. There are so many variables present, even medical professionals can't make such a forecast, so why are these ignorant individuals breeding such misinformation? I am digressing...It just seemed awkward that she would flaunt her and someone else's fertility right in front of me. Maybe I'm just being oversensitive, but if a friend was downsized and out of work, would you tell her about another friend who just received a promotion?

I just let this comment go and changed the subject. As a revised strategy for dealing with Myrtle, I've decided only to discuss details about our infertility and treatments when she asks. Just when were we back at her office and getting ready to say good-bye, she asked enquired, "Any fertility news? Or do you not want to tell me as I don't know what I'm talking about?" Ding, ding, ding! Actually, I was touched by her admission and I simply acknowledged that I know that supporting me in this situation is difficult, but I always know that she means well. A fellow blogger once noted that none of us are born with the skills required to cope with infertility, and it follows that our friends are not equipped with the tools to help us. We're all travelling in unchartered waters.

A few days later, we met up again, this time with little Myrtle. I think it's always a little strange to see your close friends in their new roles as parents. The first of our friends to have a baby was Jill, who could handle her whiskey in her pre-child days. When I saw her using teething gel on her daughter's gums, I noted my surprised that she wasn't using a dab of whiskey. "I'm not wasting good whiskey on her!' she exclaimed. Parenting clearly hadn't changed some aspects of her. I had come to terms with the fact that despite my jealousy, Myrtle truly deserved this happiness. She's doing a great job as a new mom, I could see how her love and care was so instinctive. It didn't seem weird at all to see her with her baby. Little Myrtle is so amazing. Her face is so expressive and exerts so much personality at only four months old. She is absolutely gorgeous, with a full head of hair, bright blue eyes, a button nose and soft lips. As if I weren't jealous enough...

I know life is not a competition, but Myrtle and I have been measured against each other since we've known each other. Up until this point, I was more successful in all the superficial ways you measure success on paper. I have the advanced degree, the more prestigious career, a higher salary and bigger house. Now Myrtle is dominating all the stats in this category; quick conception, easy pregnancy, textbook delivery and probably cuter baby. I know how shallow and horrible that sounds. If we are able to blessed with a baby, he or she will be beautiful to me and Husband. However, I surrender. Myrtle, you have won this round.

Husband and I did succeed in keeping the secret of our procreation intentions secure during our visit with my parents. My father started discussing plans to visit each other at Christmas, so I guess the fact that they can't appreciate how difficult it is to make travel plans a year from now indicates their lack of suspicion. We also started to look at flights for our Hawaii trip, which was a little hard to swallow. I'm going to be able to go on this trip, which is great, but makes me a little sad as I'd rather be staying home expecting a baby. The next question is whether or not my in-laws are going to join us. They are in their 70s and their health isn't great. At one point Myrtle made a hypothetical bet of $10 that they wouldn't go. She later sent a text, 'Actually I'll be collecting $20 from you, $10 for your in-laws not going and $10 for you being pregnant.' I've found many ways to laugh and make light hearted comments about infertility. I wasn't quite ready to put it in the context of a bet.

Something interesting did come about during a visit with a close family friend. 'The Vicar', as Husband had nicknamed him, is a Minister who recently retired from being the pastoral care director at a local hospital. He revealed that his oldest grandson had dropped out of college, and admitted that he really didn't know the reason as his daughter is a very private person and doesn't share much with him. I found that intriguing, given that so many others confide in him. I hope it was helpful for my parents to hear that not having a close relationship doesn't cast a verdict of being a bad parent, but sometimes that's just how the relationship works.

So this break wasn't a totally relaxing and reinvigorating lie on a beach in a tropical climate, but it achieved everything I wanted it to be. I've been out of the office for four days. I've had quality alone time as well as bonding time with friends and family. The only disappointing aspect is that I'm returning home with another cold. Top tip: if there are two flavours in a box of Lemsips, they're not offering you a choice. One is for day time, the other for nighttime. Read carefully, and don't take your nighttime meds during the day. Especially on your first day back to work.


  1. Glad you had a good trip. Your friendship with Myrtle sounds very interesting. It's always surprising to me how people can talk so insensitively to infertiles about pregnancy, but usually only when I read about it. I think back to real life conversations I've had, and I can remember all the platitudes: just relax, adopt and you'll get pregnant, etc. people did stop asking when we will have kids finally. All those things never really bothered me, but they do stick out when I read about it from other people.

  2. I love your honesty, and I always enjoy reading your posts. I'm glad you can see past Myrtle's insensitivity and still be good friends with her. I look back at some of the things I've said to friends who were having trouble TTC and I know I probably said some of the wrong things too, which helps me understand insensitive comments said to me a little more.

  3. Sounds like you had a nice trip. Although I am not sure why Myrtle told yo about some woman you don't know being pregnant. And the whole myth of not being able to get pregnant right after going off the pill because your body needs to "adjust" is becoming a pet peeve of mine. Where do people get these ideas? My cousin thought that and got pregnant the first month. Another friend said that was the reason she took 5 months to get pregnant (then later in the conversation said the first month she used an opk she was pregnant). These are smart, college educated women. Ugh.

    1. OMG, that irks me too! Smart educated women who understand that you need to take the pill at the same time every day to make it work as a contraceptive, then think it takes three months to 'wash out' of your system!