It's expected that around the holidays you'll see lots of family and friends, probably even those you don't often see during the year. This is one thing I enjoy most about Christmas but certainly it becomes a source of stress for me also. You see, I'm always anticipating awkward situations and the inevitable questions that will be asked about my situation. This post has been inspired by three things: my past experiences on the subject, a recent conversation with a single girlfriend, and this post from Abby at LIFE As I Know It. Abby's brief post today about a comment she's tired of hearing got my wheels turning about those awkward moments we have with family, friends, and complete strangers. I have already written at length about what not to say to someone dealing with infertility, so I'll try to keep this one brief.
Here are a few things I'm hoping not to hear this Christmas:
1. "So, how is all of that going?"
(It's a good thing I'm so savvy at picking up on subtle cues and can figure out that by "all of that" they mean infertility.) Here's where it gets interesting, because to me it depends on who is asking the question. If it is someone I'm very close to, who has been following along with all the ins and outs of this journey and knows what it has been like for us all these years, I'm much more inclined to give an honest update on where we are. If, however, the question comes from a friend I haven't seen or heard from since last Christmas (or five Christmases ago), I'm not usually ready to get into it. Believe me when I tell you that I know how easy it is to lose touch with people during the year. But if you were really concerned, you'd probably call or write when I came to mind rather than waiting to run into me in the grocery store and deciding that's the perfect time to talk about my personal battle with miscarriage. Right there in the produce aisle. I really do appreciate concern in any form, but sometimes it feels more like gathering information to store away in a mental file than genuine compassion.
2. "Have you tried _______?"
Unless the missing words are "Starbucks' new salted caramel hot chocolate" (to which I would reply "Yes, and it's fantastic!") then I'm really not interested in talking about a new treatment plan right at that moment. I'm open to suggestions or information about new studies in the world of infertility/recurrent miscarriage, but right now it's Christmas and let's just talk about regular things, please! Hearing medical advice from someone who may have gone through a vaguely similar situation years ago and now has had several kids isn't my idea of a fun Christmas party. I mean it when I say that I'm really glad things worked out and that they found the right thing that worked for them, but that doesn't mean it will be the right answer for me. Sometimes suggestions from friends who have overcome infertility or from friends who have never experienced it at all make me feel like they think my doctors are just twiddling their thumbs. I can assure you that we are seeking out the best medical care we can find, and even though I know that not much has changed for us in the past several years, we feel like we are doing the best we can.
3. "Are you trying right now?"
Well, we're not trying right at this moment... obviously. Seriously, I can't think of many situations where this question would be appropriate. It is awkward to discuss the personal details of my cycle and sex life with 99% of people. Maybe that's just me! And until you see us walking around with little ones in tow, assume we are "trying."
4. "Your blessing will come soon."
If you read this blog regularly, then you already know my thoughts about "blessings." I don't have any children but I already do have blessings! Unless you've had a direct word from the Lord about my future children (which I'm not doubting can happen) it may not be a good idea to offer empty promises to someone in my situation. Instead of making me feel better, that definitely makes me feel worse.
Now let me reassure you that if you are a bloggy friend of mine and you're reading these words, the chances are pretty slim that any of this applies to you! When you are in a community of people who are all struggling with infertility in some form, there are many times when talking specifics and suggesting treatment plans can be appropriate.
I'm happy to say that with the exception of #4, none of the above have happened to me in quite a while. This post is not an excuse to send out a secret message to any of my friends who might be reading it. It's just one of those days when I needed to vent, so thanks for listening.
Now, who wants a hot chocolate? I do.