Thursday, May 18, 2006


Am a little tipsy right now, so please bear with my vague incoherence.

This evening I went out for drinks with two of my coworkers. One of them was one of the pregnant ones (the first one); neither of them knows of my IF problems, of course, because no one at work knows. (A nurse from my clinic called me with CD3 instructions while I was giving some direction to my assistant; I had a very cryptic conversation--"Same time?" "OK, see you then!"--while my little dewy-eyed 22-year-old assistant waited for me to finish.)

Now, I have been VERY GOOD lately about the whole pregnant coworker thing. I had privately resolved to try not to feel as if everyone else's pregnancies were personal slaps in the face, as hard as that is, so in addition to my self-prescribed desensitization therapy, I have been chatting with my coworker/friend (we are pretty friendly; are the same age and married the same length of time, have lots in common and have talked a lot about personal stuff) about her pregnancy, being supportive, debating the relative safety of soft cheeses, that sort of thing. Really, VERY good. And the optimism I've been feeling about starting injectibles--it's a weird sort of excitement that grips us when we start a new phase of treatment, isn't it? This is the one that will work!--has helped a lot, too.

For the most part, I had a great time tonight. But there was one very hard moment. The pregnant one--let's call her B.--was talking about how she has a friend who has been struggling with infertility, and it was hard for her to know how to break the news of her pregnancy to her IF friend (remember, she got pregnant the VERY FIRST TIME she had sex without birth control), and how she wasn't sure how much to talk about her pregnancy for fear of hurting her friend, etc. So far, so good. B. is a very sensitive, caring person, and I knew she was very concerned and tender-hearted toward her friend--she's mentioned her before. But THEN--B. said that her friend had one friend who had gotten pregnant really easily, who had 2 kids already, and she knew that had been hard for her--and that she had another friend who had had trouble, eventually conceived through IVF, and once that baby was born, conceived her second, without ART, very soon after--"because the pressure was finally taken off."

Well. You can imagine my internal reaction. But before I had a chance to formulate my response, my other coworker/friend (we'll call her N.) broke in, all indignant, saying, "No, it wasn't because the pressure was finally taken off, it was just the luck of the draw," and went on to rail against the whole idea of "just relax," that saying things like that just puts even more pressure on women, etc. She said all the right things! (I don't think N. has had IF issues herself--she was married for a short time, is now divorced, not seeing anyone--but is certainly of an age where she probably has friends who have.)

I was feeling all warm and fuzzy toward N., when she went on to say something to the effect of, a lot of the people who others claim got pregnant because they "just relaxed", it had nothing to do with them relaxing, it would have happened one way or another. "I have nothing against IVF," she said, "but I think a lot of women who do it might have gotten pregnant anyway if they'd just had the patience to wait two or three years."

Well then. I really couldn't react to that without giving the whole show away ("Yeah, well, my husband and I could shag like rabbits for the next ten years, but what with the only ovulating four or five times a year plus having one fallopian tube, I'd say the chances are pretty slim"). So I turned away and became very engrossed in my glass of champagne for a few minutes, until they got bored of the topic and moved on.

Here's the thing. I don't want to confide in either of them about my fertility issues. I don't think they would understand, I don't think it's politically smart right now for me to be talking about my fertility plans to coworkers, and I have the support I need from other friends and from my friends inside the computer. But I have to admit, there is a part of me that wanted them to notice that I was having a very emotional reaction to this conversation, to wonder why I was turning away with tears in my eyes, to think twice the next time they said things like that in front of me.

But they didn't notice. And they won't think twice next time, or the time after that.


Blogger Robber Barren said...

Oh, I completely share your pain! I'm in the same situation (co-workers don't know about my IF issues, and in fact probably all think we don't even want children right now) and I've had to bite my tongue SO MANY TIMES...!

9:55 PM  
Anonymous Alexa said...

Oh, I am so sorry. What an infuriating mess of coworkers almost-saying-the-right-thing and then veering off into the hurtful.
I am, at least, glad that you are starting a fresh cycle with an entirely new protocol--it is very exciting. I am hoping for good things for you.

7:55 AM  
Anonymous LisaGray said...

Whatever you do, don't tell them. It's not worth it. Maybe if it comes up again, you can say you have a "friend" with infertility and that because of her problems, she would not be able to conceive naturally, no matter how realxed or patient she is. That would shut them up. I hate people who think they know something about fertility and infertility when they have no clue.

10:04 AM  
Anonymous Erin said...

I understand entirely. I will be starting a new job in a few months and have no idea at what point I'll feel comfortable mentioning infertility. I've been in situations where people have been insensitive about infertility without knowing that we're dealing with it, and have almost never felt comfortable "revealing" myself like that, even if it would have made a difference.

And chances are good, it wouldn't in many cases.

11:59 AM  
Blogger Thalia said...

Me? I tell people. Not everyone, but many more than I originally thought I would. Because in the end, it was just easier that way. I know it's different for everyone, I'm just sorry you had to endure the ups and downs of that conversation.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Watson said...

Why oh why can't people just figure out how to be sensitive to others on this topic? I guess it's just too much to ask for. I have co-workers (who KNOW about my IF struggles) who still say: are you SURE you want to have kids? Spend a weekend at my house and that'll change your mind har har). It's just infuriating, and I'm sorry you have to deal with it in addition to the stress of IF.

4:17 PM  
Blogger MoMo said...

Oh..I am so sorry you had to sit thru frustrating. I was very selective on who I told and the ones that I told have been very supportive. Hang in there!

5:22 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I'm sorry you had to go through that. I have sat through many a conversation where people who don't know about our issues have made incensitive comments and I have wondered how much I should speak up.

3:12 PM  
Blogger Ornery said...

I personally have found that I am unable to handle ignorance like that anymore, so I've been much more forthcoming about my infertility during the past year. However, there are obviously people who will never, ever get it, and I just try to steer clear from them whenever possible, though the pregnant co-workers are pretty difficult to avoid. In any case, I'm sorry you had to sit through that. And frankly, I'm impressed that you were just tipsy...if I had to sit through crap like that, I'd probably have been piss drunk by the end of the evening!

7:44 PM  

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