Monday, 20 May 2013

The Elephant in the Room

While the seaweed may seem greener in a fertile's lake, everyone's life has static. Myrtle's husband worked for a large retail company. Sort of like Chandler from Friends, no one was really sure what his job exactly entailed. I got the impression that it was a niche position, created many years ago to serve a specific purpose, but now had run out it's utility and his employers didn't know quite how to use him, which led to his dissatisfaction. Myrtle started encouraging him to look for a new job shortly after her positive pregnancy test, but he didn't pursue anything. By Thanksgiving he decided that he had enough and handed in his resignation letter at the end of a work day. Myrtle has been trying to balance being supportive while also being concerned. She knew his unhappiness with his job was placing a strain on their marriage, but she had just gone back to work after little Myrtle's birth and would now be the sole provider for her family. She wanted to help her husband find the colour of his parachute, and she came up with a lot of good ideas for job leads and unique ways for him to market himself, but he kept coming back with "No. I don't want to do that."

I remembered how annoying it was to be asked if I had a job after my graduation. It's almost as irritating as having people ask you if you have any fertility related news. Thus, both issues have become the metaphorical elephants in the room. I've enacted my 'don't ask, don't tell' policy regarding any discussion of our infertility, but I haven't figured out how to handle asking Myrtle about Mr Myrtle's job search. I want to express my concern for her without causing aggravation.

It turns out that I didn't need to find the right words to ask her during our previous conversation, as she just launched away. She's growing more frustrated as his quest has been limited to faxing his resume (without a cover sheet) and waiting for a friend who promised to pass it to a potential employer (back in December). I think she revealed her desperation when she asked me (an established atheist) to pray for him to get a job. Probably because that would equal his efforts.

I recognise that this is probably how Myrtle feels when she is trying to offer her support regarding our infertility issues. I really can't relate as Husband and I grew up with the instructions that you never quit a job until another position is established. My husband created an 'oh shit' savings account in the event that one of us loses a job. He holds on to some business cards and regularly emails these contacts, so that if he were to be laid off, he would have a few active leads. I'm not nearly as organised as he is, but I have a few options for per diem work. Offering her pep talks of "keep trying" or "it will happen" is haunting to me, as those are the words she has given to me and I found them irritating. The other delicate aspect is that her husband is not necessarily being lazy with his casual job search, but it's a reflection of his lack of self-confidence. As I've come to know Mr Myrtle, it's apparent that he is really insecure, which doesn't help when you're trying to get a job in a slow economy. I know Myrtle has tried to build up his professional mojo on several occasions, and I can't help but wonder if he may some therapy sessions. I've not shared this with her as I'm never sure how much truth people are really ready or willing to hear.

I've come to accept that the only thing I can do for her is listen when she needs to vent, which is all I really want from her with discussing my infertility issues. I'd like to be open about our struggles without her giving Aunt Jane advice to wear post coital socks and stand on my head. I'd like to be able to tell her about our fertility treatments without fearing she'll say 'I don't know why you're doing that when you got pregnant on your own...' and then having to explain the difference between IUI and IVF for the umpteenth time. Maybe we don't need to talk specifics about the elephants in the room, but it would help for us each to acknowledge them.

As Mother's Day approached, I wanted to express to Myrtle how proud I am of her for balancing working full time (as the sole provider for her family) and being a great mother. I know the first official Mother's Day is a special occasion for every new mom, but it thought it was especially significant for her given the extra challenge she absorbed. I sent her a card and I texted her to arrange a call on Mother's Day.

I was alone as Husband was away for the weekend and I spent the day cleaning. The day was a little harder for me than I thought it was going to be. As I hung some laundry on drying racks in the spare room, I felt reminded that we could be prepping the room to be a nursery if I were still pregnant. I could have been celebrating this day with my Mum as a mum-to-be, but instead I am still an infertile woman who is doubtful that she will ever be a mum. As much as I am dreading 5 August, (the would have been due date) I want it to get here so I can move on to 6 August.

I confess that a small part of me thought Myrtle might sense that today would be tough for me and would ask how things are going. Maybe I had sniffed too much ammonia from the glass cleaner, but I felt that I wanted to talk with her. I was just finding it hard to keep something so difficult in my life from my oldest friend in the world. I was prepared to repeat my explanation of the difference between IUI and IVF in order to unload some of the pain I've been carrying. I'm fortunate that I have so many other people in my life to talk with, but at times it hurts that Myrtle isn't one of them. Maybe I just needed reassurance that my friend still cared enough to ask. Then I got a text from her: Well, unfortunately my day just ended with a screaming baby and more puke! So I am probably not good company right now :(

Sigh. It was always about her. It seems that almost every conversation we have is always focused on her, but today was her day. How selfish and foolish of me to think that I had a claim of any recognition toward it. In my world of infertile bloggers, we could celebrate ourselves as potential mothers and acknowledge the difficult feelings, but I was reminded that no one outside our realm saw me that way. It was her day. She was observing the event by enduring the challenges of the job. The last thing she should have been burdened with is her friend's sorrows over her miscarried pregnancy and quest through infertility. I realised that I could resent how easy it was for her to conceive, and I could be jealous of her gorgeous baby, but I felt that I could no longer feel bitter. This was probably not how Myrtle envisioned her motherhood experience would be.


  1. Oh Myrtle. You can always count on her for good head-shake-worthy blog fodder.

  2. seriously. she is a character. but you bring up a good point that everyone has their challenges to face, and we can never fully be in someone elses shoes or know what they are going through. I need that reminder often, thats for sure.

  3. Hi from ICLW. There are years that I think Mother's day should be abolished.

  4. so much of this resonates in my own life, sheesh.

    Jenn, from ICLW

  5. Hello from ICLW! I know what you mean...and I am grateful for this community for the support and acknowledgment on days especially hard like Mother's Day. My fertile friends just don't quite get it, and I guess I can't entirely blame them.

  6. Sounds like you're doing exactly the right thing to support Myrtle - listening and expressing your appreciation. And if she comes up a little short, I hope all your bloggy friends can take up some of the slack! :)

  7. You are a very good friend to Myrtle. I think pretty much everyone we love also drives us nuts in certain ways. I'm glad you have Myrtle in your life, even though she is not a great source of support to you. You also have all of us!