Monday, November 1, 2010

I know I don't sound the least bit relaxed

This post is actually based on an email exchange I had with one of my feminist friends. She, recently pregnant after trying to conceive for a whopping month, upon learning that I was about to embark on in vitro treatment (see really lame ass backdrop story here), sent me this sage and never-before-heard advice (excuse me while I wipe the sarcasm off my screen):

"i have been thinking of you and Luisito and hope your treatment is going well... i was reading in one of my pregnancy books something that i found interesting and true. She was saying that she got pregnant after a stressful time and only when her body was able to relax. i would have to say the same thing, i got pregnant only after i turned in my dissertation and was finally able to lay around and do nothing and was stress free. i think that may be one key to conceive. well i hope this is helpful!"
I am fucking to the gills with women that have gotten pregnant within a few months of trying to conceive and pretty much anyone else that learns I have had trouble getting pregnant giving me conception advice especially as it regards 'relaxing' and to 'quit obsessing'. As you can see, they still offer this advice even after they learn that I am undergoing treatment, a decision that was gruelling to say the least and that has only come after several years of trying to conceive naturally and many sleepness nights trying to decide what the right thing to do is.

Over the past several years I have had ups and downs, high stress, low stress, been jobless, had great jobs, had my bank full of money, been broke, been at my highest, been at my lowest, been on vacation, and been in the day to day, had sex all the time, had sex infrequently, had sex on the right days and had sex on the wrong days, smoked, not smoked, gotten drunk sometimes, drunk very little, eaten healthy, eaten unhealthy and it just fucking hasn't happened. I know that common knowledge tells us that if I could only just relax and forget about it, it will happen. In fact, I'm fairly sure that it is advice that I myself have given to others at times. But having never gone through this you really have no idea how hard it is to hear it.

It's hard to hear because it basically makes me feel like I'm falling all the more deeper into a state of sadness and anger and isolation over my infertility because it is basically saying that the infertility -- a source of pain and turmoil in my life and in my marriage -- is essentially a problem that is within my own control and it is my own female hysteria that is to blame.

Just last week, my coworker, a woman in her late fifties who has never had children because she never could get pregnant, who in tears told me that her life has been empty without them advised me that I should cancel the in vitro treatment, and I should spend the money on a nice vacation and I'll see - if I could just properly relax I'd get pregnant. She was convinced that she herself never got pregnant because she was too devoted to her career and had put herself through too much stress to be able to get pregnant!

This whole process of infertility has been eye opening. It's allowing me to view yet another area where women are blamed and/or carry the bulk of the pain. We all know that women bear the brunt of the pregnancy, not to mention the bulk of the child rearing. But there are two areas that I was not acquainted with until I began to struggle with infertility that I began to realize it:

(1) the blame for the infertility that I described above, which literally EVERYONE comments on upon learning that you are having trouble conceiving, even your most die-hard feminist friends. EVERYONE knows someone who got pregnant just as soon as they went on vacation or just when they decided to give up, or just after they adopted a child or just after having their first in vitro baby. These urban legends which may be based on very real cases bleed through into our society's psyche and convince us somehow that seeking medical treatment is somehow unnecessary and is only for women who end up being incapable of controlling their obsessive minds. These stories pale all of the other stories of all of the couples who never conceive, who adopt, who seek treatment because they really need it, or because of male-factor infertility.

And (2) we also bear the brunt of planning for pregnancy (this case is entirely personal and maybe does not apply to any of you, but it certainly applies to me). We are the ones that are less likely to delve into our careers because even at 20, even though we aren't going to have a kid for 15 years still, we have in the back of our minds that we have to do something that is compatible with having a family. The worst part for me about dealing with infertility and coming to terms with the fact that I may never have children of my own was when Luisito and I contemplated having a childless life. We both decided, ok, it wouldn't be the end of the world, our lives would be a lot less complicated than our friends that have kids. But looking back at how I've spent the years and seeing all the paths I had not gone down because I didn't see them compatible with family life was excrutiatingly painful. You realize that you didn't get the family life or the career you were passionate about, you got some shitty assed in between bullshit that is altogether unsatisfying.

This post is a bit of a rant and I apologize for how unorganized my thoughts are, but I did need to vent a little. I also didn't edit this post because I'm really tired.


  1. You know, if you would spend less time blogging and more time relaxing.... I kid. Fuck them, people are so insensitive and even though we all know how emotionally charged it is to try and get preggo and it's not happening, they must not be able to help themselves. Fuckers.

    I think it's 95% biological and maybe 5% external factors. I know tons of stress kitties and neurotic hot messes who got pregnant so me thinks that has very little to do with it. I also think it's so fucking unfair the way we get blamed for it, and just about everything connected to the process.

    Are any of the people who are telling you to relax offering to call up your husband and suggest he give you nightly backrubs or clean tand pickup the house so you can sit on the couch "relaxing"? Are his friends telling him that if only he would take a load off for you that he might get pregnant?

    Even the language is kind of fucked up. For example, a friend of mine was having trouble conceiving, went to doc with husband and she was diagnosed with "hostile cervical mucus" apparently the ph of her natural cervical/vag lubrication was killing her husband's sperm before it could reach the egg. So how come he wasn't diagnosed with "fragile sperm syndrome" or told if he just relaxed his sperm would shore up the proper defenses to his wife super charged cha juice. WTF?

    And how about when some mom goes nut with Post Partum and drowns her kids or runs away. How infrequently is the father held accountable for not seeing that his wife needs help? Is he asked why he didn't get her a housekeeper or change a few more diapers so she could get maybe four hours of interupted sleep? Fuck no because the system is rigged against us. We are the eternal Eves feeding everyone the goddamn apple.

    See, now I rant. Anyhow, I am excited that you guys are trying the medical route, I know that can be extra stressful. I hope you get your bebe lady.

  2. It is just so strange how our culture just immediately blames the woman for the infertility, or assumes that it is a problem of nervous female obsession than a real medical issue. Even within the medical arena it is completely female-blame centered. Granted, my husband didn't have a male-factor issue, but the unexplained infertility is always looked at through the backdrop of the age of the woman and she is constantly reminded that the longer she waits for treatment, the lower the chances are. The whole process induces an unbearable amount of guilt in the woman, for having waited as long as she did to try, and she certainly feels pressured not to wait any longer to see if it happens naturally.

    I'm just in awe at all of this. I think that's why it's been so long since I've posted. I've had a lot of anger built up over this issue and it's been at the forefront of my mind and every time I tried to post it just seemed to inadequately portray my anger. Today though, I don't care about the writing. I just want to talk.

  3. it is cruel in the extreme to suggest (however well intentioned) that somehow the reason you haven't gotten pregnant is YOUR FAULT. talk about rubbing salt into the wound.

    you have all my sympathy. and i don't think there's a court in the world that would convict if you were to just punch the next person who advised you to "relax", square in the face.

  4. (oh, and wishing you lots of fertility vibes and peace as well.)

  5. A person has as much control over conception as they do over the sex or eye color of the child they conceive.

    I was the one with "diminished fertility" in my first marriage. 3 years to get pregnant and never pregnant (by THAT husband) again. This 2nd husband had me impregnanted in 1 1/2 yrs. and then again 10 months later. Guess I "relaxed" the 2nd time around...

    I am not childless and I can only imagine all the fantastic things I'd be doing without my 3 kids. I only know how you feel up to a point. I AM adopted and my mom is awesome (unless she's really off the deep end and making me want to pull my eyeballs out.)

  6. That being said, I CANNOT BELIEVE some of the shit those people are saying to you. Why they fuck would someone assume that after a couple decides to try in vitro, that "maybe the woman just needs to relax"? Like undergoing a grueling medical treatment is just a haphazard decision? Jesus.

    If I learned that one of my friends was undergoing in vitro, I would automatically assume there was a very real medical problem leading them to make that decision.

    I can't really offer any discussion on the feminist aspects of the situation, because I don't have the life experience to back it up.

    I'm just commenting because I validate your feelings. People are fucktards.

  7. I am 52 and childless. I had three miscarriages. I never felt the rooted urge to have children, but I'm sorry that it didn't happen. My "boss" (quote marks to convey my disdain} feels compelled to say at least once a month "Oh, I keep forgetting, you don't have children so you won't understand."

    Forget my ass.

    Going to post this same comment on MG's post.

  8. I would like to recommend having a giant meditation party for all those who keep insisting that you're not relaxed enough to get el preggo. Really to it up! Candles, a lil' smoky smell good, easy music, little fluffy pillows for them to perch their stupid asses upon, etc... Once you get them all nice and relaxed just start swinging with a Louisville slugger.
    Um, did I just say that?

  9. Blues- when I read your personal blog, I am enraptured with your life. I WANT your life, I love where you live, who you live with and how you live it. Reading this, I feel so much of your pain. I know how people say stupid shit. I have heard them say it. They haven't evolved enough to know any better, not excusing them but they will always be here so we might as well learn to ignore the ignorant.

    The part of this post that captured me and made my heart bleed was the part where you questioned your decisions as if you, yourself are buying into this somehow being your fault. The reasons you chose the paths you did may not be known but you can't go back. How could "some shitty assed in between bullshit that is altogether unsatisfying", possibly equate to the life I read about and long to have?

    Please don't look back and say, if only. The paths you chose have already been walked. But you are still walking, right?

    I love that you posted raw, unfiltered and unedited. I am in sync with your anger and uphold your right to spew it forth in whatever manner gets it out of you. Like a bad night of drinking, puke it out and wake up tomorrow to another day.

    Don't look back. Don't question. Just move forward one step at a time, remembering there are people in this world who envy what you have. Yes, I have children. But I will likely never have a Luisito.

  10. I know I said this before, but babies are dumb. So dumb. I wish I could have children spring forth from my womb as two year olds, because then I can start training them to be just like me and we can take over the internet.

  11. If I could have a baby I would want it to spring forth from my womb as a two-year-old Rassles that I would turn over to her immediately so it can be trained to help her take over the internet.

  12. We should breed an internet army.

  13. So this is where the AAYSR women come out to play.

    A few months ago I read an article in one of those vacuous women's magazines written by a woman who had struggled to conceive. To summarise the story (and can I reiterate THIS WOMAN STRUGGLED TO CONCEIVE) she was given the go ahead for IVF and the month before she was due to have IVF she got pregnant. Her analysis of the situation? Because she knew she was having IVF she relaxed and, hey presto, she got pregnant. (Note this woman had received no diagnosis as to why she was infertile).

    I immediately fired off a letter to the magazine asking who the article was for. Was it to make infertile women feel inadequate and even more stressed because they can't relax? Or was it to endorse their fertile friend's belief that really, the only reason their pal can't get pregnant is because they aren't relaxed, (and look it must be true because it happened to this journo)?

    The next week can you guess what the star letter was? Yes. A letter from an infertile woman thanking (THANKING!) them for the article and helping her see where she was going wrong.

    God it wound me up (can you tell?)

  14. The whole "Blame the Woman" thing blankets over many cultures. It's the whole patriarchal society thing. If your woman/chattel can't conceive, get a NEW wife! That's what they say.

    Personally I have never even considered conceiving. Nor will I. Babies aren't in the mix for me. I did,(and do) however, enjoy babies that came from another woman's womb. And they're not really even babies-- they're elementary aged kids. Best thing ever. I get to take credit for teaching them how to read and yet have never had to change a diaper. They still vomit, though, and I didn't consider myself a real mom until I cleaned up puke. That was a milestone.