Monday, April 19, 2010


My emotions related to infertility are so strange. I often find that I do fine with things that an objective outsider might suppose would be difficult, while random things which would seem less likely to affect me upset me greatly.

This weekend was a good example of this phenomenon. We had dinner with my close friend C and her 15-month-old son, my godson, on Saturday evening. While in Tucson for the day on Sunday, I visited my friend L, who is pregnant and due in a few weeks (I wrote about L's loss of her last pregnancy in this post last summer), and visited another friend's six-day-old baby girl (I wrote about her pregnancy here). I also spent most of the day Sunday with M, the 10-year-old girl in foster care for whom I am a Court Appointed Special Advocate.

Any rational person might expect that dinner with my godson would bother me. He is an adorable child and is at a very cute age, toddling around and communicating (more through gestures than through words at this point). You might think that seeing my close friend enjoying motherhood would highlight for me that this is something I have not experienced and may never experience. But I thoroughly enjoyed our dinner and actually did not think of our infertility at all while I was with my godson and his parents.

You might think that seeing a friend who is 8+ months pregnant like L would upset me. Just the sight of the obviously-pregnant belly of a woman in her third trimester can be hard for many women with infertility to see. You might think I'd have an especially hard time knowing that this is her third pregnancy in three years (I literally have not seen L UNpregnant in over three years, since we live 100 miles apart and our face-to-face contact is now sporadic) and that she conceived this time without even trying.

You might also think it would be hard to be with L's two-and-a-half-year-old son and see their interactions. Any reasonable childless woman would think more about her childlessness when in the presence of an adorable little one.

And yet, my visit with L was not upsetting at all. Particularly in light of their loss last summer, I am so happy for her that she is pregnant again and that this pregnancy has been uneventful and healthy. Her son was adorable, and I enjoyed spending some time with him; kids change so quickly when they're little that he was almost like a different child from the last time I saw him a few months ago.

I think a lot of people would expect my visit with my friend's newborn to be the hardest of all. After all, this baby was conceived at the same time as the baby we lost last August. She was born within a few days of what should have been my due date. The parents married the same year we did and started TTC several months after us. Like nearly all newborns, she is tiny and innocent and perfect. But this visit wasn't upsetting for me either. I listened to my friend's birth story and watched her husband feeding and burping the baby and was fine.

And then, as I was driving home, my mother made a random comment which had me crying for a good portion of my drive home. After I had related some of the highlights of my outing with M, she told me "Maybe this [meaning my volunteer work as a CASA] is what you were meant to do" instead of being a mother.

Really? Yeah, because it's really the same thing. I guess my mom would think volunteering at an animal shelter one Saturday a month is the same thing as having a pet, too.

First my mom's comment made me angry, and after I hung up the phone, it made me sad. While I enjoy volunteering as a CASA and like to think I am making a real difference in M's life, I in no way view my work with her as a substitute for mothering my own child. Being a volunteer is fulfilling, but it doesn't even come close to filling one one-hundredth of the void in my life from being childless.

To be fair to my mother, she has never faced infertility (in fact, she had the opposite problem), and I know that she cannot relate at all to what I am going through. Her comment still stung.

So I spent time with a toddler, a 2-year-old, a newborn and a pregnant friend and did fine. . . . and cried because my mother made an insensitive comment that touched on my infertility. Seems a little backwards to me.


  1. Ahh, sweetie. Mom comments always sting, even when they aren't meant to. I adore my mom, and we have a good relationship, but the woman has the power to set me off with just a few words unlike anybody else I've ever encountered... that's just what moms do... Try to remember that her intent wasn't bad, just her execution. She probably has no idea what to say.


  2. Your ability to do so well around all the babies is a sign of your strength and positive outlook.

    I am sorry about the painful comment. She probably meant well, but that still hurts.

  3. Wow, you are a tough cookie! I was with you on the spending-time-with-the-godchild paragraph. I've experienced the same thing. But the very pregnant friend, the newborn... I couldn't do it. But I don't think you are backwards. You are strong and centered. And it sounds like you aren't a jealous person. Good for you!

    Maybe your mom is trying to make sense out of your childlessness, trying to interpret it for herself, and she accidentally spoke out loud what should have remained unspoken. Who knows. It still hurts, I know.

  4. It seems like you have a really great handle on being able to separate your situation from those around you. That in and of itself is a gift. Your mom mentioning your situation though was directed right at you. That stuff, no matter how well intentioned, just stings...I'm sorry.

  5. Geez - our Mom's must be related, my Mom told me to volunteer to be a Big Sister to fill my need to be a mother.


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