Sunday, November 22, 2009

one in a million

Mel over at Stirrup Queens wrote a lovely blog the other day about Astronaut Randy Bresnik and his wife, Rebecca. Randy and Rebecca adopted a boy from the Ukraine, after being told that the odds of them conceiving a child naturally were just "one in a million." Late last night, Rebecca gave birth to their daughter, Abigail Mae.

It's a heartwarming story, and I am truly happy for the Bresnik family. However, it's interesting that we hear these types of things time and time again when we tell people we can't conceive: 

"Oh, well so-and-so (a friend of a friend of a friend) was told she couldn't have a baby. But as soon as she and her husband adopted . . . bam! They were pregnant."

The truth is, we all know that's not the norm. Only about 5 percent of couples who are diagnosed with infertility and not undergoing treatment become "spontaneously" pregnant. Who knows what percentage of those couples are actually considering adoption or have already adopted a child. Yet, why has this become such a popular tale outside of the IF community?

I'm not going to lie: I'm perpetuating the myth. We all are. It feels good to know that it happens to someone, even if that someone isn't you or me. When you step out of the RE's office after looking at chart after chart of abysmal percentage numbers, why wouldn't you want to hear success stories? No one wants to hear the same drill over and over again. We want to have something to look up at, even if that something is impossible or nearly impossible.

I wrote not that long ago about losing my innocence. This is still true: I'm a realist, but it's difficult for me to read articles about the Bresniks and not smile. I want to be that miracle. We all do. I'm envious of them, happy for them, and amazed by them. Their story is one in a million, yet there's a fine line between providing hope and perpetuating a myth. Obviously, all of us understand it. But for those outside of our circle, the line is blurred. Giving up your journey to conceive a child naturally, whether the end result or choice is adoption or child-free living, does not automatically grace you with the gift of pregnancy. How do we help the fertile community understand that this is not the norm?

And though the Bresniks are thrilled with the birth of their daughter, for some couples, this would be a tough pill to swallow. When you reach the end of your road, you've already accepted your fate. You've mourned the loss of your fertility (as a woman in my support group so wisely says) and you've moved on. To have to reopen a door that's already been closed--for years for some couples--has to be difficult.

I'm keeping the Bresnik family in my thoughts and I hope Randy has a safe trip back to Earth to meet his daughter for the first time. It's a wonderful story. I just hope it doesn't add more fuel to the infertility-myths fire.


JC said...

You are so right Katie. I've heard it a few times myself..."so and so adopted and then got pregnant right after", even "so and so had trouble getting pregnant and filled out all the adoption forms and then bam, pregnant and now has 2". I love hearing stories like that too but they're very rare and to the non-IF world they only hear those stories, not all of the ones who never get pregnant. I have mixed feelings, I guess it makes me feel like people don't think I have a problem, it's like the whole "relax" thing. I think non-IFfers only hear the positive and not the negative or "realistic" side of things.

nh said...

You are right - it's a story that should make us all smile. But somehow, you know that at some point someone is going to say to an IFer, 'well what about that couple...'.

Which really isn't to say that we shouldn't be happy when it happens, it's good for that couple, in fact more than good, it's fantastic.

Nicole said...

I actually don't like those stories or "myths". Maybe becaue I always hear them from fertiles as if they were trying to tell me to switch my plan to accomodate such a scenario. "Just adopt, then you'll get pregnant." *JUST* adopt? Did you just say *just* adopt? Adoption is a serious thing, you moron! And you definiteloy don't do it as a means to the end of achieving pregnancy!
I just get sick of them. Not that I'm not thrilled for the family involved- I am. And IFer never wants another couple to go through IF and we always rejoice in each others' good news when it comes. But I know I'm not going to be that one in a million girl, so why wish for it? I just get sick of people thinking I should be more optimistic about our prognosis I guess. "I'm pretty sure I understand my medical condition much better than you, Aunt X. Shut up." Lol

Krystal said...

You couldn't have hit the nail on the head with more accuracy. I can't even begin to count the amount of times that someone has told me about someone they know who adopted and immediately got pregnant. I know people like that, too, which makes it hard to tell others, "You know, that's all well and good, but it probably won't happen!"

Anyway, I read that story on Mel's blog and I felt bad that they have to be apart for this momentous occasion. But I'm so happy for them that they got this surprise joy.

Good luck on your next IUI!

Happy ICLW!

Noelle said...

You are so right. I really don't like hearing stories like that, and it doesn't make me feel better. It does just perpetuate the myth. I am happy for those people, of course, but I know that it just gives someone else fuel to say ,"Just adopt and it will happen!" to another infertile. My mother-in-law kept telling me the story of her sister adopting and then going on to have a child. I kept ignoring it and she kept telling me. I wish that I would have known that there was only a 5% chance of that happening. Now I know for next time.

Erin said...

This is a great post, Katie! It drives me nuts when I tell people about my struggles, and they come up with a story like this about their sister/friend/cousin/stranger.

Still, as much as it is perpetuating a myth, occasionally those stories give me some hope. Other times, they just piss me off.

Bean stalk ballads said...

Oh Katie,.. so true. I had to laugh. the other day I had a lesbian woman tell me that once you stop trying you will fall... knowing full well I am a lesbian. Yep. I will just pop on my direct line to God almighty and let him know that I am ready to be the next virgin mary. It was so stupid I couldnt even be mad... I just felt sorry for her.

Astrid said...

What a sweet story. I too am a realist, but being a realist does not mean that we can't hope. Or that we can't be thrilled when someone who has struggled as hard as we have (or harder) succeeds. It's also another example of the fact that doctors are not as smart as they think they are. Having had a particularly rough time of it with mine, that alone gives me hope. Thanks for sharing.

A baby for Al? said...

Well said.

My sister said to me a few weeks ago, did I tell you about so and so's aunt? They had no luck for 7 years then all the sudden they got pregnant and had 4 kids with no help at all.

I never know how to respond really. Sometimes I want to say, that's nice, but that's rare and I can guarantee you that won't be our story. Other times the stories give me hope and makes me smile.

2catdaughters said...

Katie, this myth irritates me on so many levels. I used to work for a non-profit that facilitated international adoptions. We saw all kinds of couples who were all adopting for a million different reasons, not all IF related. However, I can remember one IF woman in particular who was holding out hope that she, too, would miraculously become pregnant while her adoption was pending. I remember calling her to tell her she had a confirmed travel date to pick up her child and her tearfully telling me, "So much for getting pregnant because I decided to adopt." I've always wondered if people close to her were reinforcing this idea. If they were, that's just sick and wrong.

P.S. I worked there for two years, dealt with hundreds of adopting families, and I knew of ONE couple that got pregnant while adopting. ONE.

Lu said...

I think most of us infertiles have heard the whole "adopt then you get pregnant" thing more times than we care to count.

Their story does sound lovely, though, but I know it's the exception, not the rule.

Thanks for sharing. I hadn't heard about that.

romancing_the_stone said...

I love the way you write and I think your wisdom about these myths really touches me. It's so hard to hear ratios and percentage probabilities. I just want a little faith. Thanks! Shell ICLW