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.

Dorothy, I don’t think we’re in Nigeria anymore

Oh Myna… I’m going to have to create a whole tag for you, aren’t I?

For those who don’t remember, Myna is my co worker who does not have a filter. Or empathy. Among many other “Insert Foot In Mouth” moments, she has implied that people who don’t have children shouldn’t inherit and insists that everyone wants a baby. (These are only the baby-making-related atrocities. There are so many more that are equally horrifying, if not topically appropriate.)

Last week, a colleague shared that his wife is pregnant. This is their first pregnancy, so they are excited and a little nervous. They are also first generation Nigerian. (Sadly, this will become a relevant plot point.)

Colleague: You know, my wife wants a natural birth, so we’re exploring that…

Myna: I don’t think that’s a good idea. She does know that having a baby in America isn’t the same as having a baby in Nigeria, right?

Um… actually, YES. Biologically speaking, having a baby in Nigeria IS the same as having a baby in America. As it is the same in Peru or Botswana. It’s not like America waves some magical wand over every womb and we all magically give birth out of eye balls. Human bodies are pretty much the same from one geographical region to the other.

And having a natural birth is not crazy talk! I know a ton of ladies– American-born, white ladies– who have opted for natural childbirth. It’s not like this is an entirely unheard of practice in the US. Because… you know… NATURE kinda invented it.

Yes, there are some differences in medical care across countries. Nor do I wish to downplay the issue of maternal mortality rates in many developing countries. (Though even here, the US has seen a rise in maternal mortality rates.)

There is just something so disgustingly paternalistic about this entire conversation that I applaud my colleague for not hurling a stapler at Myna’s head.

Let’s hear it for restraint!

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.

“Well, Of Course.”

Today I went for my sonohysterogram, and Anti-Mullerian tests. Because Dr. Petrel was on vacation, I had to go to another office which was about an hour north from my home. Charming.

I got there a little early, and did my best to keep calm. Pat myself on the back, I was pretty successful. Before I left, I did some meditations and practiced recentering my thoughts. I had to do it a few times in the waiting room, but mostly I gave off the impression that I am emotionally balanced.

First up, ultrasounds! You ladies all know the drill- pants off, scooch your bum down to the edge of the table, lay back and relax. (Ha!) As the nurse performed the ultrasound, she asked if I had peed before. Yes, twice. Turns out my very effective kidneys were filling up my bladder yet AGAIN. She could see it. Which makes total sense, but it’s a little strange to have someone tell you that they can see your bladder getting full.

Then we moved along to the sonohysterogram. I’ve had an HSG before, and the process is very similar. Neither I’ve found to be particularly pleasant, mind you.  People say that this isn’t a big deal, and it really isn’t. But I would like to state for the record that for me, this is more than “just getting a pap.” It’s legit uncomfortable.

The doctor who performed the test was a younger woman, probably around my age. She was light, fun, asked me about my weekend. For some reason, we ended up talking about gay pride parades. I noticed that she was poking around in there a bit longer than my HSG– my cervix was playing hide-and-seek.

I do not mean to freak anyone out who hasn’t had a sonohysterogram or HSG, but I KNOW when that catheter is in. I started cramping and I had to catch my breath for a second. The lights went off, the wand went in, and they got down to work.

It’s strange to lie there and have people talk about what’s happening to you, just not talking at you. At a certain point, the doctor said that the saline balloon was deflating, so they needed to get the pictures quickly. They’re snapping up pics like my uterus is Kim Kardashian, when the doctor says “It looks like there is something on the anterior wall. Can we get that?” She starts jiggling that damn wand around, which seemed to have moved the catheter around too. At this point, I could feel my uterus getting bloated. I knew it wasn’t bad, it just didn’t feel right.

DR: Are you doing okay?

ME: Yeah… (unconvincingly)

DR: Are you feeling [INSERT MEDICAL JARGON HERE]?

ME: I have no idea what that means.

DR: Are you feeling dizzy? Nauseous? Sweaty?

ME: I am a little clammy…

DR: Okay, we’ll get this finished up then.

When they were done (which was mercifully soon), the doctor went over the results with me. Drum roll, please… I have two very small polyps in my uterus, one toward the front and one toward the back. I took the news like a champ. No idea why, since my usual MO is to freak out over everything. On a certain level, I was expecting this. I actually said “Okay, when do we schedule the operation?” (Some of you may remember this premonition from my post on Friday.) I have to wait until Dr. Petrel is back from her vacation for the final verdict, but I’m pretty sure I’m getting those suckers removed.

I put my pants back on, and waddled out to the car. I was half way there when I remember that I need to get my blood work for the Anti-Mullerian test, and I waddled back in to have my blood drawn.

As I drove the 45 minutes back to my workplace, I was abnormally calm. I was definitely feeling crampy and crabby, but that was my body, not my mind. Mostly, I just thought that this is another step on my journey. I was struck by this one thought, however.

My body really does not want to get pregnant.

It’s growing polyps, producing fewer/low quality eggs (potentially- still waiting on the AMH test results.) It’s throwing all sorts of roadblocks here. To quote some other blogger somewhere: “My body isn’t a wonderland. It is an asshole.”

I want to be clear- I do not think that this is “a sign” or that this is anyone’s “will.” I still believe that all these hurdles are surmountable. But let’s be real: if it weren’t for the miracle of medicine, I would have a very slim chance of getting pregnant at this point. Let’s hear it for science!

As a postscript to this delightful day, I learned a good friend of mine is pregnant. She is one of the folks in my life who knows about my IF dramz, so she wrote me the sweetest note about how happy she is, but how she understands if I’m upset. I honestly appreciate that she chose to email me personally, rather than get ambushed on Facebook. And as we’ve established, I’m truly happy for her. Her joy is my joy– until the Universe stops being a tool and gives me a little of my own.

However, I was struck by the timing. I’m sitting at my desk– hunched over in a ball recovering from my sonohysterogram crampage– when I get the email. She’s growing a baby. I’m growing polyps.

“Well, of course.”

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.