Open Mouth, Insert Foot by Liimu
I was at a party over the weekend and we got into a conversation about natural childbirth vs. adoption/fertility/etc. I always shrink up when those conversations arise because I feel like I shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion, since I had all of my children naturally. (Well, actually, I had them via c-section, but without fertility support or adopting.) Plus, I always feel like when I try to chime in on the conversation, I invariably say something stupid or insensitive, like when I was talking to a friend who had just told me how sad she was to be giving me her boy’s stuff because she had always hoped to have another one. Her boy came over to see the baby and she told him to steer clear because he had a little cough and I was like, “Oh, please…it’s number four, I’m kissing the binky up to God every five minutes.” She chuckled politely, but I know (hope) she could tell by the look on my face how desperately I wanted to reach out into the air and grab those insensitive words back and ram them back down my own throat.
At the party, my friend was saying how she had run the Broad Street Run just weeks after giving birth (which was also my plan, one that was thwarted by my pesky OB who didn’t even want me to take a casual walk until my 6 week checkup, let alone run Broad Street). She said for awhile people would compliment her on how amazing it was that she could do that with a baby that young and how amazing she looked and eventually she just started receiving the compliments rather than pointing out that she’d adopted her baby. I opened my mouth and said, “Well, for the women like me who struggle to lose their baby weight it was probably pretty frustrating to think you’d regained your figure so quickly.”
Her response, “I’d say it’s a fair trade.” Even as she was saying it, I was aware of how stupid and insensitive my comment was. I immediately agreed, “Yep, fair trade.”
The conversation then turned to fertility shots and what is the appropriate gift to give to someone who’s offered to shoot you in the butt when your partner isn’t available to do it? I chimed in to suggest: “A t-shirt that says, “I gave my friend an injection shot in the ass and all I got was this lousy t-shirt?”
Though that was received with genuine laughter, what I had really wanted to contribute to conversation was my own experience from when I donated my eggs for a loved one. I didn’t, not only because I did not want to break that person’s anonymity, but also because I didn’t want to risk in any way diminishing their experience by likening it to theirs or seeming as though I really understood what they’d been through. That’s sort of like when people act like they understand the Black experience because they have Black friends. Not the same.
Anyway, it’s tricky. I am such an advocate and supporter of everyone having exactly the family they want that I don’t ever want to seem like I’m not sensitive to or empathetic towards those who have had to go through extra, difficult measures to have it, especially those who have gone through those measures without success. Although I know from my experience with donating my eggs firsthand the horrors of the shots, the mood swings, the weight gain and even some of the roller coaster of getting your hopes up only to have them dashed, I have not been through fertility to have my children and so I don’t understand.
But I will continue to try. Much love to all my sisters out there who have fought to have the family of their dreams, whether through fertility, adoption, foster care, or any other means.