Since the holiday season is upon us, we would like to take a brief moment to acknowledge a known sore spot with those of us who are infertile. On an almost daily basis we are sifting through a larger amount of physical (snail) mail which has been growing post-thanksgiving. Tucked into these piles of online and store catalogs are the little things that seem to send those of us sans-kids into our dark places. Yep, we’re talking about Christmas cards.
However, these just aren’t any normal Christmas cards like the one’s you might receive from an out-of-town grandparent that has a $15.00 check inside. Nope. These are the cards that come as a postcard or in an envelope that display our overly fertile friends and their grouping of kids all in their holiday best. Most of these tend to be themed, quite poorly, to show how children are growing year after year. The worst ones may even include a family update newsletter but that is a rant for another article.
Not to say that this is an entirely awful thing to want to display your family in a photograph to keep up with minimal correspondence every holiday season, but to send them out to those of us who desire to have the chance to one day create these pictures for ourselves is bad taste. After a while of infertility most friends should be aware of our feelings and understand that viewing a holiday card with them showing off their children front and center can, unfortunately, make us upset. Especially since the holiday season already brings its own set of sad emotions.
Here is our plea; DO NOT SEND US ANY OF YOUR STUPID, STAGED HOLIDAY CARDS THAT FEATURE YOUR FAMILY IN A PHOTO OF ANY KIND. We do not care to see your entire family in matching red and/or green holiday sweaters in front of a phony snowy forest backdrop. We do not care that it took you all afternoon at Sears or Kmart or JC Penney’s photo department and do not want to hear the story of how the photographer coaxed all the kids into only one good shot. Please do not make us waste paper and postage by throwing these straight in the trash or better yet using the “return-to-sender” feature of our postal system.
A lot of us infertile folks may think this in our heads, but we wanted to say it out loud…Please stop rubbing it in our faces that you have children and we do not!
I’d like to offer up my congratulations to the ITNB blog hosts for stating outright that “Stories that end with a child can be found elsewhere… if you want to find those type of comments, there are plenty of other forums out there for that purpose.”
Amen! My husband and I have had a theory (long before we found out we were infertile) that when people have babies, they sort of lose their frontal lobes, you know that part of the brain the helps you understand other people’s theory of mind—that perhaps not everyone is quite as enamored with your little one as you are. This phenomenon can manifest itself as anything from a 3 year old running amok during a funeral service to the endless clucking of mother hens about this birth weight and that milestone. We had postulated that perhaps the deep breathing of Lamaze, a few sleepless nights, or strong diaper fumes had somehow asphyxiated the brain cells of previously grounded and reasonable people. We had not considered that the force could be so strong as to extend to people whose child-rearing gong show was prefaced by a lengthy struggle with infertility. I expected more from these people.
I expected that the ability to empathize and relate to the struggles of the infertile would most easily be mastered by someone who has (to borrow Melissa Ford’s metaphor) previously been an inhabitant of the Land of IF. In fact, this is not so. As I take my own private and painful journey through infertility, hoping to quell my loneliness in the warm blanket of shared experience, I google and ogle my way through infertility blogs. In my thirst for descriptions of the patience and emotional angst of infertility, I find myself constantly barging straight into someone’s online shrine to their miracle child. Pictures of said miracle baby (replete with birth weight and milestones) abound. Sorry, wrong room, my mistake!
My plea to the newly (and happily) fertile: Please, when the infertility door in your life closes, and for god’s sake shut down your infertility blog! Flex those frontal lobes and recall for a nanosecond how it felt to have no baby in your arms. Then, by all means start a new blog where you and your precious gift can cavort about in virtual nirvana without creating awkward and painful moments for the rest of us online who are still here. Infertility is clearly not your focus anymore, stop throwing it in our faces!
What is behind this behavior? This is another of my theories, but I think infertility is an inherently inwardly focused experience: we keep it secret; we scrutinize our levels and counts; we listen for every cramp, every twinge; we work in our bedrooms; we live in our underwear; we search (literally within ourselves) for answers. We look and we look and we forget that we are not alone. When people say goodbye to that time in their life, I assume it’s like childbirth, you forget the pain every time you look at the child—and that’s good. It’s why my friend who was in my position at one time thought it was a good idea to go out for coffee so she could surprise me with her 5-month bump! But no matter how good your memory, how big your frontal lobes, how inspiring you think your story is, it is your story, not mine and you have no business blogging about your parenting experience on a blog with an infertility tag line.
ITNB would like to thank Paige for this Blog Post the nice congratulations and her welcome feedback. We couldn’t agree more!!
Infertility is the New Black is looking for people who can relate emotional stories about the unsuccessful quest to conceive to contribute to our blog. So come on, let it out! Please use our Contact Us page if you are interested.