Tuesday, May 18, 2010

the threesome of infertility

Actually, a "three-way" might be a better way of putting it . . . a three-way fight between denial, pity, and sympathy. Recently, I have determined that people you open up to about infertility fit into one of these three categories.

Category 1: Denial

I'm going to group ignorance into this category, too, because I think ignorant people are out of touch with reality. In general, ignorant denial-ers are the people who say the following:
  • "Just relax. You'll get pregnant!"
  • "You know, so-and-so just adopted and now they are pregnant. You should adopt a baby. Then you'll get pregnant."
  • "God chooses who he wants to become mothers. Maybe you were not meant to become a mother."
Straight-up denial-ers are also the people who say nothing at all. They may act like you never said anything to them about infertility. They never ask how you are doing. They don't realize that baby shower invitations and e-mails full of ultrasound photos might upset you. If you try to discuss your upcoming procedure with them, they change the subject to the weather, American Idol, the gulf oil spill, etc. Sometimes, they stop talking to you all together or they blame you for their shortcomings as a friend or family member.

Category 2: Pity

You know exactly what I am referring to when I say "the look." It's the look you get from people when you tell them about infertility and they pity you--like you just told them you have the high-five or cancer. They practically offer you their uterus and all they can say is "I am so sad for you!" They call way too much and they do things to try and make up for your lack of procreating abilities. They are overly friendly and overly annoying. "Sorry" is the number one word in their vocabulary, as if they were the ones who made your eggs age faster or your husband's sperm disappear. Overall, they mean well, but you must constantly remind them that you 1) aren't dying and 2) it creeps you out that they always cry when they talk to you.

Category 3: Sympathy

Sadly, not many people exist in category number 3. These are the people who sympathize (or, in some cases, empathize) with you and your husband. They call and ask how you are feeling, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. They say realistic things when a treatment fails like "This royally sucks" or "That is so unfair." They think of you enough to send you a note of kindness on holidays that involved babies or anniversaries of TTC or loss/failed treatments. They are there to listen when you want to vent about your latest pregnant friend and they are there to help you take your mind off of infertility when you just need a good laugh. Some of them have been through infertility themselves, and they offer advice and wisdom about how to get through some of your darkest days.

Looking over these categories, I think each of us knows the person or persons in our own lives who fit into each description. It's important that we surround ourselves with the right people. These are the people who are going to make up your support system. These are the people who are going to make this journey easier for you. And I think we all know which category these people fall into.

Who is in your support system? Who fits into the two other categories? And, if you aren't infertile, which category do you consider yourself a part of?

24 comments:

Jin said...

Since I've mentally kicked off the folks living in the Land of Denial off my planet, I've got a mix of 2 and 3 going on in my life. Lol. No lie.

S said...

Hmmm. Interestingly, I haven't run across too many people in category #2. Maybe it's because the majority of my friends and acquaintances are pretty straight-up, no-nonsense people and know that I am, too.

I've had quite a few in category #1, including both my parents. (My dad has busted out the "God's will," "just relax," and "adopt and you'll get pregnant" lines, and my mom used the "maybe you aren't meant to be a mother" line on me, too.) My in-laws sometimes avoid talking about it, but I think this is largely because of their Midwestern sensibilities about such a "personal" topic and their own grief at not yet being grandparents (my husband is an only child).

I am very fortunate, though, that most of the people who know of our struggles have fallen into category #3. Even the friends who don't know what to say because they've never experienced IF or been close to anyone who has have been, by and large, wonderfully supportive.

Kandid Kelli said...

I hope that Im not that "annoying" person!! I genuinely hope I am in the third category.

I am so glad you're back to blogging/ tweeting. You were missed. But Im glad you got your much needed cyber-break!

xo
-K

Kim said...

Strangely enough, I think I fall into all three categories regarding my own Infertility. Some days I'm in denial, others I feel sorry for myself and usually I acknowledge it and just empathise with myself and say it sucks, but oh well, whatcha going to do? Sometimes though i get angry and pissed off and bitter, and thats just a class of it's own.

Dawn said...

My parents were very much in category one. My mother could simply not understand how I could be bothered by babies.

My BFF was firmly in category number three. She was always there to listen to me complain about our fertile friends that would overshare and was always supportive when I needed a shoulder to cry on.

Rebecca said...

I had ine friend i really hoped wouod be in category three who seemed to be more in the first category. I would try to talk to her about it and she would sort of ignore it. At first she wanted to know more and then she kind of started giving me the pat lines.

My dh's friends and my sill have been more in category threee because several had been through it. I think the problem was that my closest friends we ere single and hadn't tried and didn't get it.

Thankfully i haven't had any in the second category because i think thats worse than the first!

A said...

Category 1: Hubby's mom, my friends from college (including my former best friend). It's very frustrating trying to talk to them about all of this.

Category 2: I have one friend who may bridge Category 2 and 3, in that she always says she's sorry, but she is way more empathetic and is not overly friendly/annoying when she talks to me, so I'll put her in Category 3 :) Overall, she has been a great support-

Category 3: My two (now) best friends from college, my mom & dad, my sisters, my dear friends N, K, O, and T, and all my bloggy buddies. Although only K, O, and T can "sympathize", all the others do an amazing job of compassionate empathy, for which I am forever grateful :)

Crossed Fingers said...

Two of my best friends are in the 3rd group - they never experienced IF and got pregnant without issue but they have been rocks for me. They're always asking questions & checking in but not in an overwhelming way. They seem to know when I want to talk TTC and when I want to talk about the weather and go with it. I'm so so so blessed to have them and tell them all the time.

Kakunaa said...

There are many in Category 1, and I actually prefer them to the Sympahthizers.....at least they are honest in their discomfort. I have a few in all categories, I think.....excellent post!

Slackie O. said...

I've now told two people - my two best friends. And they both fall into Category 3. I think that's really why I could tell them, because I knew they would react the way I needed them to.

Our parents would be Category 2, and that's why they still don't know about our difficulties. I would run screaming mad if I had to endure that from them.

micgruber said...

It's a toss up between "denial" and "sympathizers" I feel like denial is a word that doesn't appropriately categorize my interactions - it more like "problem-solvers" - people always offering their unsolicited advice. The sympathizers in my life feel that their words and few actions make them appear as if they feel for you, but easily forget since they don't walk in the same shoes. As a result, I don't feel as though I have a huge and faithful support system - my husband is my sole supporter AND my followers on my blog.

JC said...

This was very interesting. Hmm...I have people in #1 and #3, none that I can think of in #2. I have lost friends because I've tried to open up and share with them and they stopped talking to me. Also ones I try to keep in the loop but aren't really there for me (SIL, step-MIL). F's Aunt and Mom were in that category till I stopped talking to them. Mainly my support system is in #3 b/c I don't get support from the #1 category.

Stephanie said...

I have quite a few in #1. So far no pity yet. A close handful who are working on being an active member of group 3. We're new to this, so our friends and family are too. We're lucky that we have a good support system and I feel blessed to have such an amazing online support system with my blogger friends :-D

Arlyne said...

This is awesome, as usual from you!!!
Unfortunately, I think I know way too many people in category 1

Ashley said...

This is so true. And honestly for me the people in denial/ignorance irriate me the most. I can't even handle them!

Katie said...

Great post! I love the way you interpret the world around you!

And, I sincerely hope I'm in category #3! :-)

Alice said...

I have lot's of #1's, but haven't experienced a #2. #3's are very rare indeed but they are jewels - even have a couple makes a huge difference.

I'm hopeful that this IUI cycle will work for you guys! I'm glad it went well and that you're taking some extra time for yourself. Hugs.

S.I.F. said...

I think I know far too many category ones to be honest.

OK, that's not true. I have some amazing friends who are definitely category 3, but one of my best friends of all time fell into category 1, and it kind of broke my heart...

suchagoodegg said...

My Mom is in category three. I'm grateful to have one person there!

2catdaughters said...

I love this post. Very few people know about my IF, mostly because I think there would be too many from groups #1 and #2. My mom and sister are group #3. I like that neither brings it up but if I want to talk, they'll listen. DH's parents know some of what's going on and they are #1--they just pretend it isn't happening.

Kelly said...

I have a mix of all 3 in my life, but the ones I hold close are #3. My mom is still sometimes in denial which is hard. It drives me mad and makes me want to push her away.

I appreciate the realistic comments. Tell me you think it sucks, it blows, it's unfair. Don't tell me, "In God's perfect time" no matter what you believe to be true.

Waiting Lisa said...

Most people I know ignore it. It's been so long that I think they're afraid if they bring it up, they'll just be reminding me. Like there is ever a day that goes by that I forget.

I sent a lot of people on Facebook a private message about what has been going on with me and how we are waiting to adopt. I kind of asked them to keep us in mind if they hear anything. I was shocked that about half of those people completely ignored my message. Said literally nothing. I could never imagine myself ignoring a message like that from someone. How hard is it to at least say, "good luck."

But, I bet if I announced a pregnancy on my FB page, I would get tons of thumbs up and congratulations. People know how to deal with that situation.

This whole process has taught me that some people do not have social skills or the ability to deal with this topic at all. And maybe they wish we would just stay quiet about it and keep it to oursleves...but guess what, it's been my reality for seven years. It's who I am.

Okay, well, now I am just rambling.

In summary, people suck. haha

conceptionallychallenged said...

Sadly, most people I've told so far seem to be in category 1. I'm hoping some will turn out to be in 3, but...

Glenn and Brittany said...

I hope I am in category 3! If not, I will keep working on it until I am :)