Finally, A Non-Answer

 Diagnosis: unexplained infertility. My numbers are excellent. He gave us a few options, but he recommends IVF.

I’m sitting in the lobby, not quite ready to go home. Shell shocked, and not entirely sure that I won’t start crying, though that feeling is subsiding. 

I expected more, somehow, and I don’t know what to make of that. 

  

Fertile Privilege

Dear Fertile People of the World,

Summer is almost here; ’tis the season when I will be seeing family. I have a gut feeling that someone is going to say something stupid (probably on the Klingon side of the family – I tend to be less patient with them) and I’ll want to fly off the handle.

Fertile People of the World, you who take for granted your ability to have reliably have sex and get pregnant, it’s time to check your privilege.

You have no idea what it is like to be unable to procreate. You don’t know what it’s like to be isolated by sorrow, judgement, worry, and lack of common ground, all at the same time. But you can. One of the great tragedies of the infertile experience is how easy it would be for people to empathize if they just tried.

Yes, infertility has rocked my world. Yes, infertility is a crisis. Yes, my views on a lot of things are different because of the hand life has dealt me. Yes, I want children. Sometimes desperately. Yes, I worry. Yes, I agonize over the morality of decisions I never expected I would have to make. Yes, yes, yes.

Infertility is a valid life experience. The lessons I have learned may be different from what you have learned, but they still count.

Sometimes people don’t have babies. Sometimes really good people don’t have babies. It’s a tragedy.

So when I see you this summer, I don’t need you to point out the upside to having no children. Believe me, I see it. I don’t need you to highlight the moral gray areas of building a family in a non-traditional way. Believe me, I know them intimately. I don’t need you to vocalize my worst fears; there’s a reason I bury them. I don’t need you to probe me for guilt or fault or blame; we all have problems. I don’t need you to advise; I pay (a lot!) for a doctor to do that.

I do need you to include me. I need you to make room at the grown-ups’ table for someone who does not want to talk about birth stories, pregnancy cravings, or which baby-carrier is best. I need you to forfeit your right to know and pass judgement on how our family-building efforts are going. I need you to exude confidence in my ability to make good decisions. I need you to hold my hand and laugh about the silly things that happen when we are together. I need you to be more than your parental status. I need you to ask my advice and acknowledge my wisdom. I need you to respect my marriage; we’ve worked so hard on it.

I need you to acquiesce that you don’t fully understand what it is like to be in my shoes – even if you’ve waited months to get pregnant, even if you’ve been there. I need you to be indignant on my behalf while acknowledging the limitations of your understanding. I need you to consider who you would be if your family had never grown, if the babies who haunted your dreams never came.

Sincerely,

Your Infertile Friend

Slight anticipation

There needs to be a new book available that should be aptly entitled, “What To Expect When You’re Expecting To Expect But Really Not Expecting To Expect Any Time Soon But You’re Working On It”.

Too much?

I have my first follow-up appointment next week, and I’m not sure how to prepare for it because I have no idea what the doc is going to say. So far, all my tests are looking good… Wahoo?

The Lifecycle of Mormon Feminist Hope

I can still hear myself say, calmly bearing witness, “There are gender problems in our church…. It will be very interesting to see what we, as a church and a people, do about it.” 

That girl, Me From The Past, was calm and sure of the veracity of her claim, but also confident that once The Church saw how much we all need to address these problems, how much room for further light and knowledge there is, how much we longed for answers from On High, things would change. She was full of feminist hope. People would understand, things would change; you would see. 

That girl hadn’t lived through public excommunication of LDS liberals, feminists, and scholars. She had experienced blatant sexism within the organization of the church (and areas within its’ influence), and so she thought she knew. She thought she was so tired, ready for a miracle. 

Today, I am wiser than I was before. I am bolder. What I have gained in confidence in regards to myself and my position, I have lost in trust that things will get better. 

I have seen and heard older, more experienced feminists converse in the same begrudging despair, grasping their roots like a falling grizzly bear throws her talons into the mountain. 

It makes us weary, this life of closely held values that should not conflict, but somehow do. 

The girl I used to be would be surprised at today; she would be glad of the brave, hopeful women advocating for ordination. She would be encouraged by their persistent faith. I think she would be glad of the progress that has been made by the church in the last few years; she would be delighted that women now pray regularly in General Conference, as though they had always been there. She would be enthused by the #mormonwomenwant and #mormonwocwant discussions. She would marvel at the books being written, and that people are buying them – at Deseret Book, no less! 

But she would also be discouraged by how hard we fought to get here; so much for so little. In return for both courageous acts of faith and minor acts of transparency, our people have faced discipline, divisiveness, and scapegoating. Honest pleas – thousands of them, have been treated with scorn by other members of our own church. And The Church, itself, has done little more than extend token gestures, which we celebrate as generous when they are merely equitable. 

Yes, that girl would also be discouraged; for in all her wildest dreams, she never imagined that what The Church would actually do to address institutional and cultural gender inequality would be…  practically nothing. 

And she would return to her life, a little less hopeful than before. 

National Infertility Awareness Week

Warning: This is a grumpy post. 

Last year I missed it, but promised myself that I would do something to raise awareness next year. The thing about “raising awareness” is, it usually translates into “talking about it on social media”.

Now it’s next year. I’m fully aware that it’s happening right now, this week, but I don’t want to be involved. Not in real life, not with my real name , real acquaintances, real “friends”.

I always thought that when we got into the thick of things, I would be very open about everything. 

I’m not.

Friends are posting about their own experiences, or those of their friends or family members, and I respect that, but I have a strong aversion to doing so myself. Even the idea of changing my profile pic to a yellow ribbon leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. I thought I was out of the infertility closet, but I am realizing that in certain situations I’m firmly inside. There are too many people that I don’t want asking questions*, and I’m either related to or went to college with most of them (incidentally, that’s pretty much my whole Facebook “friend” list). 

I have no interest in educating or informing that universe, and I desperately want them to stop talking about it. Is that bad? I really want to be brave, and to be an advocate for those who need voices, but…. 

But I don’t want to relinquish control of our story. Not now. Not yet.

[note* there are also some really wonderful people that I do want asking questions. I haven’t figured out exactly how that works. But I’m not ready for people that I don’t trust to belittle us or offer unsolicited anecdotes about why they understand when I know they do not.]