No Soup for You

The other day, Mr. O came home from work. He looked a little mopey, and needed a heavy dose of Chick cuddle time. As I was making dinner, Mr. O followed me into the kitchen to tell me just what went down. Here it goes…

While at work, Mr. O ran into a co-worker he hadn’t seen in awhile. They aren’t great friends, but they know each other. Co-worker said “Congrats on the baby!” Mr. O said “Gee, thanks!” At this point another person he didn’t know entered the conversation and said “Ooooo, I love babies. Enjoy this time with your little one!” or some such generic blather.

Mr. O was in the middle of talking about our latest parenting tension. We aren’t taking tons of pictures, and we’ve both agreed to keep posting on social media to a minimum for Chick’s privacy. While I was on leave, I would take a photo every few days and send them to Mr. O at work, but these were mostly private exchanges meant for just the two of us. Honestly, every time I would have the urge to snap a few picks, I would stop myself. Rather than document his cuteness, I wanted to focus on enjoying my time with Chick. Hence the dearth of photos.

Where’s the rub? His mother wants photos of Chick ALL THE TIME. She hounds Mr. O for updates and photos and videos, and Mr. O is just not having it. Her texts about this are outrageously guilt laden, but the more she pours it on, the deeper Mr. O is entrenched. It’s like trying to put a leash on a cat, my friends.

Any way… Mr. O was in the midst of explaining this Grandmama Drama when co-worker he doesn’t know got fixated on this photo thing. Here is a highly dramatized version of their conversation:

Crabby Co-Worker: What do you mean you don’t take photos of your child? Don’t you love him?

Mr. O: Yeah, but I don’t feel like I need to capture every moment. He is an important part of my life right now, but I don’t need to record every second.

Crabby Co-Worker: That’s terrible. Your kids should always be the center of your universe. If that’s how you feel about children, I hope you don’t have any more.

That last sentence is not made up. NOT MADE UP. She told him that because he didn’t take pictures of Chick all the time, he should not have any more kids. Because the ability to take pictures on your phone proves you love your child? Wha?

NO BABY FOR YOU!

NO BABY FOR YOU!

She was acting like some Baby version of the Soup Nazi. No baby photos?! NO SOUP FOR YOU!

(The added salt in the wound is that we may not be able to have more children. Which, of course, crabby co-worker doesn’t know about. There is no way for me to know if I would have found this comment less hurtful if we weren’t infertile, but such is life.)

Strangely what surprises me most isn’t that she thinks this, but that she actually said it. Out loud. To another person. I’ll admit to having thought unkind things before. However, I do my very best not to allow these thoughts to escape my face.

For example, I would not ask her what’s the photo count threshold before child services gets involved.

I would not say to this person that I had no idea the key to being a good parent is knowing how to use photoshop. Tell me more!

Or that I really hope she doesn’t have any children because we don’t need more people like her reproducing.

Why don’t I say these things? Because I have been socialized to exercise self restraint. Instead I blog about this kind of shit anonymously. That’s the mature way to handle it.

Myna Strikes Again

Picture it. A generic office setting, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. There is a giddiness in the air– it is a half day, and no one can concentrate the day before a long holiday weekend.

I’m talking with my co-worker about something legitimately work-related. Myna is hovering near our desks. Not asking a question, interjecting, or asking to see either of us before we leave. Just staring at us while she is eating yogurt.

It’s weird.

After about 5 minutes, I ask if there is something I can help her with. No, no… she is fine. She just wants to check in with said co-worker before she leaves. And yet, Myna continues to stand and stare.

It’s so weird.

I’ll take a break from the story telling to clarify that this isn’t unusual for Myna. Of her many, many, many quirks, Myna suffers from a colossal case of FOMO (i.e. fear of missing out.) It’s a little junior high, but I also get it. She sits in an office while most of us are in cube farms, so she can get a little isolated. Still, Myna’s FOMO is painful for everyone.

Now where was I… At this point, I realize there is no way that I’m getting back to work. The only way to get Myna to leave is to make idle conversation with her for about 15 minutes until she is reassured that nothing interesting is happening.

We start off talking about her daughter’s birthday party. It sounds like a delightful time was had by all. We talk generically about kids birthday parties. And then….

I can’t remember. Do you want to have kids or not?

I’m 4 days post transfer at this point. I’m mixed with excitement and fear, all of which I want to keep very much to myself. This is a personal question, which seems even more so with the timing.

Of course given Myna’s track record, it is a small miracle that I have worked with her for two years and dodged this particular question. My co-worker is frozen in horror. But I’m prepared. I have a retort.

You and my mother-in-law would love to know!

This usually gets people off my back. I simultaneously remind people that this is a personal question, and compare them to a nosy mother-in-law. No one wants this. It is a graceful out for all parties involved.

But Myna doesn’t take the bait. She asks AGAIN. What kind of emotionally tone deaf person am I dealing with?!

So I steamroll that fucking question by talking about how my mother-in-law has been asking me this question for over 13 years– before Mr. Ostrich and I were even engaged. I tell her about the time she asked at Labor Day cook out. And that time she cried at me over Christmas dinner to “give her grandbabies.” Or at a wedding in front of her three sisters. If I just overwhelm her with information, at some point Myna will forget what she even asked in the first place.

After she walks away satiated with her colleague bonding time, my co-worker looks at me and apologizes for not intervening. Sweet, but what was she going to do? This isn’t on her, it is on Myna.

I thought back to when Myna told Grebe that she would want children if she happened to find herself pregnant. Or when she told another colleague that having babies in ‘Murica isn’t the same as in Nigeria. In both instances I literally walked away because I was so offended. But perhaps that is cowardly.

So here’s a question for the class… Next time Myna asks someone (including me) about their reproductive choices, should I actually tell her to shut the fuck up? Obviously in a nice, work-appropriate sort of way. But is it better to deflect or tackle this kind of shit head on?

Not Everyone Wants Your Life

Earlier this week, I had to attend a few all day offsites for work. This meant, among other things, having to spend gobs of quality time with my coworkers.

I mostly enjoy my coworkers. I am fortunate enough to work with incredibly smart, passionate people. These are my two favorite qualities, so this mostly works out.

Mostly. Did you notice how many times I used that word? Because there are exceptions.

After a morning brainstorming session, my team had lunch together. I was sitting at a table with a colleague who is getting married soon, and Myna. (Some of you may remember her from an earlier post.) For the purposes of this post, let’s call said colleague Grebe.

Myna: So do you and your fiance want children?

Grebe: No, not really.

Myna: You’ll feel differently once you’re married.

Grebe: I don’t think so. Neither of us want kids.

Myna: But I’m sure if you found yourself pregnant, you’d want to have children.

Grebe: I’m 36 years old. I’ve managed not to get pregnant so far, and I don’t think there is a big chance I’ll “find myself pregnant” anytime soon.

OH. MY. GOD.

This woman is legit nuts. What was Myna hoping to accomplish? I mean, how was Grebe supposed to answer that last question? “If I found myself pregnant, I’d probably give it up for adoption. Or abort it. Yes, I think my reproductive choices are perfectly acceptable things to talk about over lunch with colleagues.”

“If you just happen to find yourself pregnant, you’d want them.” Um, no. Not necessarily. There could be any number of reasons that Grebe and her manfriend don’t want kids. Maybe she can’t have them. Maybe he can’t have them. Maybe one of them is a carrier for some crazy genetic disorder that they don’t want to pass on.

Or maybe they just don’t want to have kids.

This is not an affront to humanity. And most of all, it is none of her business.

I am offended by this, even though I do want children. Myna was so intent on making Grebe agree with her that she couldn’t fathom that her questions might be hurtful to Grebe (or the innocent bystanders at the table. Ahem.)

It is amazing to me how hard it is for some people to accept that not everyone wants their life. Myna has two kids, and they are the center of her life. She is flatout in love with her children, which is lovely. But this doesn’t mean that everyone wants what she has– or can even attain it.

I know this. You know this. But what is it with people who need their lives validated by EVERYONE ELSE? And if you happen to choose differently, you’re obviously wrong. Or you don’t know any better. Because if you just happened to find yourself living their lives, you’d realize what you’ve been missing all along.

Luckily, I’ve come to realize that I have a choice when these conversations spring up.

I got up and left the table. By the time I came back, the plates and the intrusive assumptions had been cleared.

Relearning Hope

This weekend, Mr. Ostrich and I went to the beach. I love the beach. He hates it. So we end up with one annual pilgrimage in summer where I thrash around in the waves, and Mr. O stoically applies sunscreen.  

We got to the beach early in the morning. That’s my favorite time to go, before the beach gets overrun. I enjoy the tranquility of the sun, the waves, and even the seagulls.

At some point in the day, the beach inevitably fills up. Angsty teens, families, drunken youth… that all starts to pile up around 11:00.

Right behind where Mr. O and I had set up, a group of about 5 young folk set up camp. By young folk, I would say they were in their mid 20’s. A couple in the group is getting married in February, so we all had to be regaled by the tedious details of their wedding. Ho-hum.

But then something caught my ear…

“So I’ll pull the goalie in June and we should get pregnant like *that*.”

The conversation continued, including what kind of child they wanted, how many, how far apart. Apparently, if this woman doesn’t have a “chill baby” (whatever that means), she will just freak out.

Miraculously, I did not laugh out loud.

I wasn’t angry. I wasn’t cynical about their plans. Honestly the first thing that popped into my head was “I miss talking about my life with that much confidence.”

Because that is what struck me the most. The confidence they had that their lives would turn out according to plan. It sounded so ballsy.

Since then, I’ve thought a lot of myself at that age, and the kinds of plans I had when Mr. O and I first got married. Let the record show that NONE of those plans came true. (Okay, one. Mr. O and I are still happily married.) I’m mostly okay with that, because many of those were bad plans. Others, like starting a family, are still very precious to me.

I love the younger me who dared to have plans. I’ll even admit to missing that younger version of myself sometimes. In an effort to cope with the tidal wave of disappointment, the IF me stopped hoping.

I’ve grappled a lot with the idea of hope in regards to infertility. I have forgotten how to hope. And as I get ready for IVF, I’m trying to relearn that skill.

I also wonder if I’ll ever be able to sit on a beach, and plan my life without hesitation.

On Working with Dummies

I work with this woman… Let’s call her Myna*.

Myna is one of those people who expresses her ignorance with gusto. Sometimes, she has no idea that she sounds like a jerk. Other times she knows it, admits it, but will take the trouble of justifying herself. It’s weird.

Like this one time I was hosting a donation drive for a local Boys & Girls Club. She comes over to my desk where we’re collecting the needed items, and asks how the drive is going.

Me: “It’s going really well, but we could always use more!” Nudge, nudge, wink, wink

Myna: “Well, everyone is always asking for something.”

I was collecting sunscreen and beach towels for at-risk children attending summer camp.

Let’s just say that she and I don’t always share the same world view.

Today she and I were talking about keepsakes from loved ones. You know, like your grandmother’s china, Aunt Bessie’s sapphire tennis bracelet… Because everyone comes from that kind of  privilege.

Anyway, she was talking about how her great aunt left a whole bunch of things to her. At some family event down the road, her cousin sees her wearing Great Aunt Whatever’s necklace. Cousin makes some snide comment. Myna says Great Aunt Whatever gave it to me, so suck it.

“I mean, she never got married, doesn’t have any kids. What does she want the necklace for?”

I don’t know… to WEAR IT? To feel connected to her dead Great Aunt?

This actually echoes something I’ve heard several times over the last few weeks. Or perhaps I’m just more sensitive to it now.

People who don’t have children shouldn’t have any right to family heirlooms. Because we’ll all insist on being buried with our treasure like Egyptian Pharaohs? What?

Really, all us childless, barren, old biddies should just live in squalor and leave all nice things to people who can have kids.

Admittedly, Myna has no idea of my IF woes. But I don’t think that really lets her off the hook. Regardless of whether or not I can have children, I don’t think anyone is more entitled to the memory of a loved one than anyone else.

Like I said, she and I don’t share the same world view.

*Nope. Not her real name.

Sad vs. Sad

I was texting with my sister the other day. We’d both had long, crappy days and we’re commiserating about it– mostly about how much wine we’d need to consume to recover. Out of no where, she texts me:

Sis: I think of you much with the fertility stuff. Just for you to know that I’m here for you to talk if you need it!

 

Me: Thanks- sadly I have become an expert at grieving over the last year. It’s nice to have your support.

 

Sis: I want to help in any way I can. It is sad- all this stuff. I am here for you.

 

Since I’ve “come out of the infertility closet,” I’ve been interested in how other people react to it. Not a lot of my friends know– just the ones who I would typically turn to into any life crisis. My family knows. And I’ve told everyone I don’t want this to be something we tip-toe around. This is my life. It’s happening. Let’s be grown ups about it.

Mostly, people are sad for me which is nice. (Better than someone saying “Thank goodness! I never thought you should reproduce.”) These are the people who are closest to me, so they want to see me happy. This is infertility business, as we’ve discussed, makes me sad.

Part of the reason I didn’t want to tell people was because I didn’t want to be confronted by the perpetual sad face. You know, the well-intended friend who holds your hand and basically expects you to weep openly every time you talk about your recent test/procedure. I do weep openly. In the shower. Alone. Then I put on my big girl pants, and get on with it. (Then blog about it. That too.)

They keep checking on me to make sure “I’m fine.” Just calling. You know, caaaaausally… And I think they are surprised when I say (with some amount of truthfulness) that I am not sad.

To be clear, I am not sad. I feel sad. But I refuse to become a sad person because this is happening. I can’t actually set up camp underneath a bridge like an old hag, and wait to die. That seems like a pointless way to spend the life I’ve been given.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I love these people, and see how their responses come from a loving and supportive place. I am fortunate in that. More like their expectations for how I should be handling this are more accurately reflections of how they feel.

This weekend, I met up with my friend Sparrow who I have not seen in some months. (This is Sparrow of the “Statistical Anomaly.”)

Me: So Mr. Ostrich and I are officially going for infertility treatments.

 

Sparrow: Good for you.

Reaffirming. Empowering. Not ready to give up.

And not sad.

Not LMAO. Not Even a Little Bit.

And now is the time on Sprockets when we wait!

(Oh, Mike Meyers… you’re timeless…)

I’m 3 days away. 3 DAYS. I’m mostly sure I’m not pregnant, but then again what do I know? I’ve never been pregnant before, so maybe this is what it feels like.

Alas, PMS symptoms and early pregnancy symptoms are so similar. (Because nature thinks this is funny.) I’m rational enough to ignore these symptoms, and yet human enough to want an answer NOW.

This TWW has been fine, really. I have developed a new coping skill– extreme exercising. There is something to be said for forcing yourself out of your own head and into your body. I ran almost every day last week. I went for a 2 hour hike this weekend. And I lifted weights. No kidding, I picked things up and put them down.

The added bonus is that everything hurts, so I can’t misinterpret anything as early signs. They are most likely signs of my mania, and that isn’t going away anytime soon.

In annoying family news, Mr. Ostrich’s sister is up to posting inappropriate things on Facebook again. I’m mostly fine with it because a) she usually keeps it about herself, and b) it’s pretty darn entertaining, in a totally voyeuristic kind of way. It’s like watching The Jersey Shore unfold in my Facebook feed. But yesterday, my dear sister-in-law posted some image that’s been going around FB: “Be Someone’s Crazy Aunt.” She tagged both me and Mr. Ostrich and writes “I would love to be!!! LMAO!!!”

Note: I am not LMAO. Nor am I ROTFL. Nope, not even LOL.

Long back story here, but Mr. O’s family has been after us to have babies since before we were married. Yes, BEFORE we were married. I’m not one to stand on morals, but I always thought there was something weird about that. Like “I’m not so concerned about your ability to commit to each other, as long as you pop out a few cute babies for us.”

So here we are, 10 years later. Still very much committed to one another. Still very much in love. And still selfishly not producing children for them to be Crazy Aunts/Uncles/Grandmothers/Grandfathers/Cousins to.

Mr. Ostrich has told a few people on his side about our IF woes, but not every one. He comes from a large, extended, nosy-but-well-meaning family. He is a private person, so has wanted to keep it to himself mostly. Evidently, he has not told his sister. (For reasons I will not go into, I respect his decision.) Of course, in the meantime she continues to be in-your-face rude, though without even knowing it.

It doesn’t make me mad, as much as it makes me wonder. There are so many things we “assume” people can do. Or will do. Or even want to. I mean, let’s say that Mr. O and I decided not to have kids, based on some principled stance on overpopulation. (Whatever, I’m setting up a hypothetical, okay?) Should we have to make an announcement? Like the opposite of birth announcements, maybe. “We are pleased to welcome no children to the world. Ever. Join us in this celebration.”

At some point, I thought people who just mind their own business and stop asking. But these are not people who seem to understand boundaries or subtleties.

In the meantime, I wait.