Friday, June 18, 2010

the un-baby

You remember, of un-baby shower fame? Well, she was born yesterday - two weeks early, which is unusual for a first child. I found out as I was leaving work to have dinner with my DH and some friends (one of the friends, and a fellow IFer, is the best girlfriend of the un-baby's un-mama, and a nurse, so she was there for the birth. I only had a chance to ask briefly how she was doing with all that, and she said she was fine, and then the group conversation put an end to that. Maybe she is fine).

I was fine with all of it, and felt for the un-mama about all of it (I know this has been hard for her, and, from her point of view, I think the worst is now over - and I am happy for her that she made it), until my IF friend was listing the huge crew of ladies (the un-grandma, two of the un-mama's four sisters, and two of her closest friends) in the delivery room for the whole show, and I heard my own voice saying, "She had a whole cheering section!" See, the IF me can clearly recall, and convincingly imitate, the pre-IF me - the cute little things she would have said, the sincerely congratulatory attitude she would have had, about Other People's Children.

And in the moment I made that comment, something happened like in that pharma commercial with the high-cholesterol guy or whatever he is, where he splits off into two people - for a hundred sentences of dialogue I had been one person, an IF girl genuinely interested in and happy for her friend, and then during that last phrase, I became two people: the IF girl who thinks that someone who is superhumanly fertile and had a perfectly healthy pregnancy and now a perfectly healthy baby neither needs nor deserves a cheering section; and the girl who won't give her dinner companions the satisfaction of thinking, even unconsciously, that she deserves to be childless because she's mean. So I'll say whatever it is I'm supposed to say.

I wonder how soon I'll be expected to meet the un-baby, and whether I'll be able to pull off some sincere comments of a positive nature, or just be waiting on my opportunity to run screaming from the room.

It's funny how nobody (including fellow and former infertiles), however they know our situation (or should be able to guess), has ever ever said to me, "Would you like to see baby pictures? Would you like to meet the baby? Alternatively, we could do something entirely different." They never ask. They show you. They wait for you to say, "Actually..." whereupon they will launch into the speech they have prepared ("How thoughtless of me!"/"I completely understand!"/"I thought you might feel that way."), establishing their sensitivity and generosity to the invisible cameras.

Whereas, generosity? Is making a lunch date for when the baby is with grandma, and telling me, "I'm so glad we have an opportunity to do lunch - I've been dying to get out to a grown-up place with just the girls!" before I have a chance to say, "What's a good place where you can bring the baby?" Generosity is showing me pictures of your dog, and waiting to see whether I ask, "Do you have any baby pictures?" I don't believe I've asked anyone to see baby pictures in years, and there's a reason for that. And when I don't ask - now you know for next time; you never have to say a word. You do that, and I promise you, you'll have your reward in heaven.


  1. The whole social interaction aspect of dealing with infertility is probably the hardest for me. I do the splitting into two people, too - one who is saying the right things, and the other who is angry/sad/running from the room (depending on the day). I wish it didn't have to be that way.

    I have an aunt and uncle who were unable to have children, and they've sworn that it gets easier once people are out of the baby stage.

  2. You have such a way with words! I hope that the first meeting of that baby is filled with grace! I like your last paragraph! I had to deal with insensitive friends and it makes me realize just how much I am loved and cared for when the sensitive ones recognized my pain of IF and loss and just celebrated the things we had in common!

  3. I agree with EC's first paragraph.

  4. I definitely understand the two people feeling and that the social aspect of IF is the hardest part.