The Gulf of IF

I've just been out to dinner with the other women from my Mums and Babies group. Not surprisingly, talk turned to second children as all of us are in our late 20s/early 30s, parents of 18-20 month olds, and naturally we are getting long of tooth and dusty of uterus. All of these women know about my light dabbling with infertility treatments, as I fessed up when P was just a few months old.

They are often curious about infertility and IVF, so I act as Resident Expert on Matters Fertility. This despite the fact that I know less than jack, as evidenced by my pre-IVF posts in which my embarrassing lack of knowledge regarding the most basic female reproductive physiology was most apparent. I won't even tell you what body parts I confused when actually pregnant. What can I say, I was just a really casual bystander with the medical side of IF treatment. I was all about the drama instead.

Anyway, given my full disclosure these women are really cautious about what they say about pregnancy and fertility in front of me. "When I get pregnant again" is sometimes altered to "If I get pregnant again", lest the poor barren one get offended. One of the reasons I'm always hesitant to share my dark, infertile past is that I don't want people to feel forced to modify what they want to say. I don't want to always be the recipient of a sly sideways glance after someone has spoken of getting pregnant on the first try.

On the other hand, and this is where the perversity and illogicality prevails, I would be annoyed if people didn't think before they spoke. In essence, you're fucked either way when it comes to my perception, so don't even bother. I'm not going to be happy if you carefully choose your words so as not to hurt my feelings, and I'll be annoyed if you open your mouth and something ignorant spills out. What's a poor fertile girl to do?

Tonight the banter wasn't too shocking - quite a fair amount of "when" rather than "if", but I suppose if they have no reason to doubt their fertility they wouldn't be inclined to allow doubt to enter the equation. There was the one throwaway comment about possibly deciding when one is 45 to have a third child, assuming of course the second would be had, and that a third would easily arrive when in one's mid-40s.

I've spoken before about wishing perhaps we were not so weathered, worn, and battered by infertility to the point that we anticipate the infertility of others because they are just too naive. It's an ever-recurring theme with me. I got what I want out of the whole IF deal, yet I expect other women who haven't had similar trials to just *expect* possible infertility. Why would they? I want to think that these happy events happen without any sign of complications, but I'm far, far too jaded for that.

I don't to be the wise old sage. I don't want to be the one silently sitting at the table whilst these "when" conversations are going on, thinking to myself that they would be doing themselves a favour by making it an "if" conversation. So many of them think it's an age-related issue; as long as they squeeze the conception of that second kid in by 35, they'll be fine. Of course they know that I was 23 when I started infertility treatment and 28 when I finally got pregnant, but I'm just a black mark on an otherwise fertile landscape. Unless someone tells you they didn't get pregnant easily, it must have gone without a hitch.

I'll spare you the talk that went on of how to have sex in a manner to guarantee that you get pregnant with a girl. Even if I drank, not all the wine in that tiny Indian restaurant would have been enough to suppress that memory. These are the conversations those people have ladies, for realz. I would have been happy to have gotten pregnant with a goat, let alone specifying the gender of any fetus residing in my uterus. To read books dedicated to girl-making sexy time, well...my time could be much better spent cleaning my oven or scraping pigeon shit off my skylights.

Must go have sex now, with my legs at a 45 degree angle post coitus whilst wearing a crown made of pineapple chunks and one slipper on my left foot. I want to have a boy, you see.


Becky said...

Be sure to pump your legs in the air like you're riding a bike afterwards, okay? I heard a friend of a friend was infertile until she did that. And it cured her infertility!

Magpie said...

Ack. It's a good thing I'm too old to have another kid. 'Cause it's a good way to get past that crap.

Good luck with the pineapple and stuff. Don't forget to get your hips up in the air too!

Jenn said...

There must have been a parrell universe thing going on because I had the EXACT conversation on Thursday night. One more fertile than the next and they even discussed how to have one sex over.

Vacant Uterus said...

Actually, if you really believe you can do it and you want it bad enough, you'll have another baby no matter what your age. It worked for J. Lo and you know that Jenny from the Block wouldn't lie to us about something like that. She just channeled her inner R. Kelly and believed her way to those twins.

May said...

Oh, good grief. Pardon me while I go bang my head against the wall.

Eva said...

This statement really resonated with me:

I'm not going to be happy if you carefully choose your words so as not to hurt my feelings, and I'll be annoyed if you open your mouth and something ignorant spills out. What's a poor fertile girl to do?

Because I was definitely like that. I decided not to tell anyone we were trying to get pregnant or having trouble getting pregnant because I didn't want people to be weird and awkward and careful in front of me. But then people wouldn't censor, and talk about how insanely fertile they were, or how they got pregnant too quickly, or tell me details about just how awful it was to be pregnant or have a young child, and wasn't I lucky to have my body and my nights to myself and get to sleep in. Then I would go home and cry and rant to my husband because they were insensitive and shouldn't they guess that I wanted to be pregnant?

Sorry to hijack, you just really touched a nerve of familiarity!

Kath said...

Dear Pru, wow, do I ever hear you. Your perception of talks like that, and paradoxical feelings, are exactly like my own. But all that I can handle -- the gender stuff, though, makes my head explode.

electriclady said...

Be sure not to do it standing up. You can't get pregnant if you do it standing up!!!1!!

I feel the same way. I don't want to be so permanently scarred and embittered by infertility that I'm constantly taking everything the wrong way. But then I'll turn around and be like, "I can't BELIEVE she said that!"

Thalia said...

my antenatal class seem to actually be quite sensitive to this, even before being infected by me as the barren elderly woman of the group - one, for example, said she hadn't bought a particular pram as it's the one which easily converts to a twin pram, and that felt presumptious about her ability to have another one.

But oy, the gender stuff. Takes me back to the bad old fertilty friend days and all the nonsense which gets typed on there. Tell them it's all nonsense, for their own good, I dare you!

PiquantMolly said...

Yikes. Evenings like this make the ol' brain go into overdrive, don't they?

Makes me want a nap.

tonya said...

You've so nailed it. I can recall sooo many conversations like these buzzing around me.

I like how you put it, that there's no way they could say all that in a balanced enough way to make you happy; therefore, we are each responsible for our own happiness and all that.... (I know you didn't say that verbatim, but you allude to it). Very well put!

I hope you are feeling better. Sounds like you were (are?) having a rough time lately? Keeping you in my thoughts.

Kristi said...

Ah, the naivete of the fertile. It's almost adorable, isn't it? (Snort). Like you, I always find myself on an island when my friends talk about conception and babies. And I find myself holding my tongue quite a bit.

Lut C. said...

You know, you ought to try to steer the conversation to some other (in)fertility topics. You could talk about the expense of IF treatments. Or advise them to 'just adopt' a girl, if they want to be sure.
Why not say your considering being a surrogate, and so should they.