This whole infertility journey has been an eye opener in more ways than one. We have only told immediate family and a couple of friends about our struggle for a positive, not because we are ashamed or embarrassed! Far from it! Our choice to keep it quiet has been purely for self preservation. The reason? Well the more people that know, the more people might take it upon themselves to provide opinion (often misguided), advice (even more likely to be misguided) and/or suggestions as to how we might overcome our situation (I don’t need to say anything about this one, you know what I mean!).
We don’t need this kind of help!
So from the start we trusted our journey to those we knew would be supportive yet honest when we needed them to, the people we know, know us really well and who we know will not catch us off guard or do any of the following. For us this has worked. Everyone is different.
But even though very few know our struggle, we have found that there are those who take it upon themselves to comment on our childless state or make insensitive comments about their own parenting woes or child rearing issues. These people vary in age and gender (there seems to be no pattern as to who says these things). They just wait for a moment, or in some cases there is no opportune moment so they will randomly drop the bombshell of advice/observation at a time where it was not related.
My hubby and I have firstly categorised these people into two main types: Dumb and Dumber. Then each category have subheadings: Stealth and Lancaster Bomber.
Let me provide definitions for these categories and subcategories!
Often well meaning, no malice intended. Tend to use fragments of randomly obtained information to create own conclusions (usually wrong) or jump to own conclusions from very brief observations carried out themselves. Usually those who have no background information about us e.g. friend of a friend/parent’s friend who only know us through parent updates/random stranger (such as someone you end up sat with at a wedding and after brief conversation decide to share their thoughts on you).
Quite easy to deal with at the point of bombshell comment as will probably not see/meet them again or for a long time.
Often less well meaning. Should know better! Often are those who have known us for a while via a direct friendship/work relationship, but not necessarily close friends, but there are exceptions to the rule. Mostly have first hand and up to date information about us and know about our lives (apart from actually knowing we are struggling with infertility). Due to closer relationship with us, are easily misguided in feeling they have our permission to talk about our childless state. Usually add an uncomfortable ‘laugh’ onto the end of bombshell as they want to comment but pretending it is ‘jokey’ apparently justifies them saying their piece . Hardest to deal with as should know better and are encountered socially on frequent occasions!
Further to these main categories there are these subcategories:
Stealth Bomber: Catches you completely off guard. You don’t see/hear it coming so cannot take cover or avoid. Also, no lead up to bombshell being dropped in the conversation, comes out of the blue. Drops the bomb then moves on quickly.
Lancaster Bomber: See and hear it coming a mile off. You know the bombshell is inevitable and whilst you can’t escape it, you can at least take some cover. Often makes several attempts to drop the bomb but can’t quite get an accurate drop site in conversation, so will circle and keep trying until finally they see the target.
Over the last 3 years we have encountered many Dumb Stealth Bombers, Dumb Lancaster Bombers, Dumber Stealth Bombers and Dumber Lancaster Bombers.
We have concluded that the Dumb Stealth Bombers are the easiest kind as its over as quick as it started and you don’t have to see them again. The Dumber Lancaster Bomber is the hardest as you encounter them regularly, you know it’s going to happen, but there is nothing you can do. But whichever of the four we encounter, they all drop the bomb and the aftermath and fall out afterwards is the same!
So, we have established the categories and sub-categories.
Now for the ridiculous things they say. Admittedly, some of these we have been witness to rather than on the receiving end of (we have two friends who are openly struggling to conceive and talk about it with others). But see what you think:
* You must not really have wanted to have a child or you would have one –
Really?!? So our childless state is a choice. OK, two initial issues with this.
1. If we have decided not to have children, you are judging us for that choice and you think it’s wrong!? What business is it of yours?
2. You are telling us that if we are trying to have a baby and not succeeding that it because we don’t want it enough!?
* You must have some psychological block that is preventing you from getting pregnant –
OK, so in biology and psychology it follows that my ovaries are directly linked to my mental state!? I am guessing that means Jamie and Britney Spears are totally free and clear of psychological issues. Good to know. I will book my psychologist appointment now.
* If you quit trying, you would get pregnant – Oh, I see! I didn’t realise that having regular unprotected sex with my husband on a regular basis was not conducive with a successful pregnancy! We will make sure to try less!
* God has another plan for you, he wants you to be in service and with a child you wouldn’t be able to do that – Words fail me! I’m not even going to go there!
* This one came from a heavily pregnant acquaintance whilst we were sitting with a group of friends who all have children except me – “Ahhh, you must feel left out all the time as you haven’t got a baby yet! It’s ok though I suppose, our baby showers must be keeping you feeling involved in baby stuff – Oh thanks, what would I do without you!? Living my dreams through you guys makes up for it though…NOT!
* You can be a mother to your friends kids – No I can’t! I love them dearly, but they have their own mothers!
* You are soooo lucky not to have kids – No we are not! You are lucky to have them though!
* You need to relax – Ah that’s the golden nugget of advice we have missed. With that gem our troubles are over!
* You should just adopt – We have considered that yes, but it is not your place to suggest it.
* You maybe shouldn’t have children, you may pass on the infertility to them – I’m speechless!
* Have you tried getting drunk – There is very little we haven’t tried! But wow, that one is sure to be the answer to our prayers! Where’s the bar?
* Oh I got pregnant and didn’t know, I got leathered so many times in the first few weeks! – I cannot speak! You should be so proud!
* If you want, You can take one of mine – No thanks! But so glad you love your precious miracle gift(s)!
* Just enjoy the time you have together now! – We are, thank you! But it doesn’t make infertility any easier!
* At least you can go in holiday and to the cinema without needing a babysitter! – Wow, those two things are such comparable compensation for not having a child! Each time I look at a child from now on I will start to calculate how many missed cinema opportunities they have caused to their parents! That will give me perspective on how much I want one! Silly me!
* Oh just you wait, once you’re in labour you’ll be thinking twice about wanting a baby! – Probably, but the joy afterwards will be more than worth it!
* We got pregnant the first month, we didn’t even have to try – Well you are very fortunate because the pain I feel daily I would not wish on anyone! You are clearly superior to me! I bow down!
* Being pregnant sucks, you’re so lucky, i’d kill for a glass of wine – Oh I see! So as well as missed cinema opportunities, I also need to calculate the missed glasses of wine opportunities! So now I have two ‘how worth it a child is’ calculations to carry out before we really decide we want a child. I am enlightened!
* Kids are so expensive, once you have them you’ll have no money. You don’t know how lucky you are! – I think you need to see how lucky you are! Money cannot buy the happiness children bring!
So, with these new categories, why not start to enjoy categorising those you encounter! It helps me and my hubby no end! We often send texts to each other on the sly with observations “dumb stealth at 12 o’clock!” It helps us get through and helps us smile rather than cry (well at least until we get home).
I wonder if the Dumb and Dumbers are aware of the devastation they cause with their social bombs!? ….. I doubt it!