Thursday, December 18, 2008

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

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.


Teresa said...

All I can say here is your druthers is my ruthers girl. Hehe!

You are absolutely 100%, unequivocally right and you deserve a shout out dude. Amen!

Andi said...

Can we please have a Starbuck's salted caramel hot chocolate on Saturday???? I've not tried one yet.

I may have to quit reading your blog if you keep mentioning delicious goodies like hot chocolate and chicken pot pies though as it is counterproductive to my desire to lose weight!

And, Stace, thanks.

Stacey said...

Teresa - Thanks!

Andi - Absolutely!!

Andrea said...

You definitely deserve to vent! I would too. I already know what it's like to receive nosy questions about when we're going to have a baby (one reason I left my old church). I don't know why people think it's appropriate to ask "Are you trying to have a baby?" of anyone, even someone who isn't struggling with IF.

Connie said...

mmmmmmm...Starbucks hot chocolate! I'm trying not to be sad that you and Andi are getting together Sat w/o me...

Sunny said...

What is this new Starbucks salted caramel hot chocolate of which you speak????? I'm addicted to coffee and other various hot beverages -- lol.

giiiirrrllllfriend, you can have an AMEN on this post. I just want to say, "are you kidding me? seriously, last time I checked you aren't Maya Angelou and therefore please don't give me any feel good wisdom" - this is what the voice in my head says anyway. Yes, I have voices. Most of them are friendly though. ;)

Sew Infertile said...

It is like the big white elephant in the room when those questions arise. I am waiting for someone to ask me, so I can say no I am barren! What will they say then? I have to laugh!

But your writing is beautiful, it was perfectly said! Hence the reason, we don't get out much, because I just am DONE dealing with people.

Stacey said...

Andrea - I totally agree! Thanks for understanding.

Connie - Don't be sad. I'll see you in a few more sleeps and we can go to Starbucks too! :)

Sunny - You have got to try one. It's yummy! They'll probably take it away after Christmas so hurry!
Oh, and I've always kinda thought that those comments like #4 sound a bit like a Magic 8 Ball! lol.

Sew Infertile - Thanks and I can relate. I'm so much more of a hermit now for that very reason. :(

Andi said...

Connie, if it'll help, I'll drink an extra hot chocolate for you. I'm sweet like that! :) Seriously, you'll have to join us next time.

Lauren said...

Oh Stacey, I love you so! Will you please move to ga so we can go get Starbuck's amazing limited time only (dang) salted caramel hot chocolates together? What a fun post and great reminder as we prepare to see family and friends in the next few weeks.

I'm totally with you on the "trying" thing. When is it ever appropriate to ask someone if, when, and how frequently you and your husband are becoming one in flesh??? It's ludicrous. It seems to be something so many are willing to discuss openly, casually, and with relative strangers. If someone doesn't know my maiden name, then they in all likelihood don't need to know when or whether we're "trying"!

(Although my hubby does have a crude uncle who frequently likes to inquire as to when I'll be "popping another one out" and whether or not we're using any kind of birth control. This is the same man who wanted to discuss - in minute detail - my failed breastfeeding experience with our first. It seems that some people have no boundaries.)

Anonymous said...

I try to have fun with awkward questions. They deserve awkward answers that make the person who asked look really retarded in front of a large group of people. "Chuck" should be good at this because he is pretty quick with comebacks. It sorta makes you look like a compulsive liar later on, but come on, it's really fun and nothing brings out the holiday spirit like being passive aggressive to thoughtless people. Wow, do you think I will still get into heaven?? -Faith

Connie said...

Stace and Andi - I am so in on next time!

Amy @ Experience Imagination said...

Humor me here, it's been a tough week.

Suggested funny responses to horrible questions:

So, how is all of that going?
The kitchen remodel is going really well, thanks for asking. I didn't even realize you knew we were thinking about it, but it's so sweet of you to ask! Let me just pull out my album of all the color swatches we chose.

Have you tried (insert treatment idea here)?
My specialist and I have a seventeen-point plan we outlined, based on the latest research out of Sweden and Norway. digging through purse I have the paperwork here somewhere. I'd love to get a second opinion on the 2007 study they did at the University of Stockholm. You have time for a quick 30 pages, don't you?

Are you trying right now?
Yes. In fact, looking at watch ooh, I'm late. I was supposed to meet Chuck five minutes ago. It was nice talking to you though!

And a serious one:

Your blessing will come soon.
God has blessed me incredibly this year. Merry Christmas!

Stacey said...

Lauren - You are too sweet to me. Thank you for your continued support!

Faith & Amy - You guys rock. I love it. PLEASE will you two come with me for all my holiday travels?

Connie said...

LOL, Amy! That was awesome! :)

Anonymous said...

Great post Stacey! I know I can SO relate!

twondra said... well written and something I could have written. Thanks so much for posting that!

Abby said...

I feel honored for the shout out on your blog!!! That was the first of many unthoughtful statements I'll here for the holidays, ah, the comments, fake smiles - fa la la la la!

Hang in there!!!

Amy said...

On a very tired note, Paul and I had the Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate TWICE today. It was that good.

Sew Infertile said...

Stacey, No worries, I am a hermit as well. I have changed everything I do. I just don't want to be bothered. :) I understand. My home is the only safe place.

I Believe in Miracles said...

These are good. I unfortunately did not get to avoid the "so when are you going to have kids" question this Christmas. And since we're not telling anyone anything yet, it was definitely awkward.

I'm hoping you didn't get asked these. But I LOVE Amy's suggestions. Those rock.