August 2, 2007

The things people say

A vaguely connected family relation keeps unloading pessimism on me. Each time I see her she begins by telling me how HUGE I am and asking (again) if I'm sure I'm not further along or having twins. You might remember I have already given her a stern look in the eye and told her: "We saw it happen in the dish. We know exactly when it happened. We are 100% certain there is only one." Or something like that.

But that's not the worst part. She also insists on the belly rub. Why does anyone do this? I have never in my life had any desire to touch a pregnant woman's belly. But that's not really the bad part either. All of this is just the usual stuff that goes with the territory.

What really bothers me is how she always follows the belly rub with some awful story about a tragedy that happened in someone else's pregnancy at this same exact stage. "Oh you're five months? So and so lost her baby at five months, but that was because of such-and-such completely weird freak thing that could happen to anyone at any time but I'm sure you'll be fine." Or if there's not a horrifying story to correlate with my current stage, I get awful birth stories about babies who died, mothers who suffered miserably, or new parents who got unexpected and devastating news of some kind.

This woman's step-daughter is currently visiting while we're vacationing at a rental house in the Outer Banks. We had a little chat on the beach yesterday that finally gave me a possible explanation for all the pessimism. Ages ago, Ms. Negative lost her first baby just after delivery. I'm not clear on the details but there was some sort of trauma, the baby went into a coma, and died within a few days. The woman was very young and I'm sure totally shocked. It must have knocked her entire world upside down. Maybe she wished she had known more about what could go wrong so she might have been prepared.

Infertiles do not need to know more. We know more than enough. I think the entire world knows more about these things than we did 40 years ago, which is a good thing, but I'm not sure whether I'd prefer to be prepared or blissfully niave if I had the choice. Throughout all the years of infertility I've maintained a "prepare for the worst, hope for the best" approach. I actively searched out information about all the possibilities so I wasn't blindsided. I guess this is a normal reaction to the shock of finding out it wasn't going to happen the way we always believed it would. I guess I forgive this woman for the way the remants of her awful experience still affect her. We all cope in our own weird ways, and they're not necessarily in synch.

We often say we envy those stupid fertiles their naivete. Would you REALLY rather not know what you know?

14 comments:

Rachel said...

I tried to post a picture of the t-shirts, but couldn't. Go to cafepress.com and search for pregnancy belly t-shirts. There are tons of funny ones, "I'm not Buddha, and rubbing my belly is not good luck" or "If you touch my belly, I'm not responsible for my actions" and my personal favorite, "If you didn't put it here, keep your hands off." Wear it around this relative and maybe she will get that hint. If not, just gently slap her hand next time and tell her you'd appreciate it if she wouldn't touch your belly. Of course, I probably would chicken out before doing that, but it sounds like fun.

nurselochia said...

I started reaching out and rubbing the offending persons stomach, just to show them just how it violated my personal space. It worked wonders.

Adrienne said...

Yes, I'd rather not know what I know now. I remember how things went the first time around, the time I brought home Max at the end of it all. It was wonderful - I'd give a lot to have a pregnancy like that again.

Valerie said...

I would give anything to not know what I know now. Ignorance really is bliss sometimes. I agree with nurselochia rub her tummy next time. I am a belly rubber but I always ask first.

Marie-Baguette said...

I guess the only solution now is to be very firm with that woman and tell her that you are sorry she has experienced a loss, but you don't want to hear pregnancy horror stories. And tell her to keep her hands off your belly!

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Sticky Bun said...

While I know I'm reaping the benefit of a lot of fertility-related knowledge, sometimes I envy our parents' generation. They didn't even find out about their pregnancies until they were far enough along that the chances of something happening were already pretty slim. And they didn't have all of these tests to calculate the exact risk of everything horrible that could happen. And, things worked out as they worked out, and I'm not convinced that the women who had to go through painful experiences were any worse off (emotionally) for not having had the information.

Yet, now that we can have that knowledge, I'm physically incapable of not researching every f'ing detail.

*sigh*

Anns said...

That's kind of sad.
Did she ever end up having any kids in the long run?

Poor thing probably doesn't even realize what she's doing (though I realize this is not what you want to hear, for some odd reason my heart sort of goes out to her). Perhaps you should jokingly say something like, "well that's morbid isn't it" and maybe she'll get it.

On the belly rub thing, I'd back slap anyone that did that to me. This personal space is not for invading my friend.

Anns xo

K77 said...

I was blindsided once, at my dx last year and never again will I let that happen. I have always needed to know everything, now even moreso. I can't imagine being naive, simply cannot even imagine it. I don't know if that is "me" or if that's "IF me".

As for the bellyrubbing, try rubbing hers and commenting on it's size and see what happens :)

Bumble said...

It is so sad what happened to that lady of course, but you don't need to hear the horror stories when you're worried enough already (as most pg after IF are). We probably worry more than any other preggo just because of what we do know, so sometimes it'd be nice not to know and be blissfully unaware. I feel very sorry for her and I hope she ended up having her babies after all. Nearly down to the naughty nineties hey!!!

My Reality said...

I think I wish we didn't know what we did. Because that would mean we didn't know this pain that is infertility. But then again, it is always better to be prepared for the worst.

Rachel Inbar said...

Yes, I think I'd really rather not know the things I do now. I think it adds a level of unnecessary stress... I also think that all of the additional testing that's become standard in recent years adds more stress than anything else.

I'm for the t-shirts... I think it's incredibly rude to rub someone's belly - it's only OK if she says, "Would you like to feel the baby?" I felt the same way even when it was my sister...

niobe said...

ignorance = bliss

Gaining knowledge is like losing innocence. Once it's happened, there's no way to go back.

I wish that experience hadn't taught me how bad things can really get.

Kate said...

This is a tough one for me as I feel like I have been on both sides, like Adrienne. On one hand, I very much envy myself of four years ago--the woman who, despite spending longer than originally expected (9 mo.) trying get pregnant, did not really question her fertility and in the end had an easy pregnancy and a healthy baby to take home. Oh heck, I even envy that naive excitement of having unprotected sex. On the other hand though, I am glad that I know what I know now because I feel like I am prepared for anything, at least mentally (maybe not emotionally). Like you, I would rather plan for the worst and be pleasantly surprised if things turn out better than expected--instead of being completely blindsighted and devastated by something I did not expect. Also, I feel that having gone through IF/PG-loss experience, I am more grateful for what I have--and that is the perspective that the me of four years ago could have never had.

Overall though, I agree with Niobe: gaining knowledge is loosing innocence. Losing innocence is not always a bad thing, but it is not that positive either.