A little experiment
At my German conference, I decided to try a little experiment in openness about IF. There have been a number of conversations lately about how to be an advocate for IF when it’s such a private issue and one that the general public seems pretty unsympathetic to or at least incapable of appreciating the seriousness of. (Take THAT, syntax! You are my BITCH!) I was thinking perhaps one place where I could help the cause was in discouraging people from asking about others’ reproductive plans. This can be done by a combination of being an asshole and making people feel very uncomfortable, both things at which I excel. That is, when people ask about your plans, the nice thing to do is say something polite that pretends having a baby is just a question of deciding you want one. The assholeish awkwardness-creating thing to do (or AACTD, if you will) is to tell the truth. This will ideally make at least that one person think twice about asking next time. So I did a little AACTD. (That acronym is TOTALLY going to catch on. Eat it up, RESOLVE.) It happened fairly naturally because of the circumstances. The conference was attended by a lot of people who know me pretty well (my old grad school cohort and labmates), and many of them are or recently were pregnant. So of course they all asked me about my plans. In addition, for reasons that are mysterious to me, a lot of people seemed to think I was pregnant as well. Like, several people said, Didn’t I hear good news about you? while starting at my stomach. In short, I had many opporunities for AACTD. When people asked me if we wanted kids or had plans to have kids, I said, We desperately want kids, but it’s not just a question of wanting for some people. When they asked if I was pregnant, I said, Noooooooo, in a tear-choked voice that implied There’s a world of pain here and aren’t you sorry you brought it up?
I have to say, peoples, AACTD did the trick. People usually said, Oh, gosh, I’m sorry and backed off as though they’d just wandered up to a big pile of writhing vipers. I don’t know that the people who got ACCTDed will be less likely to raise the issue with the next woman of reproductive age they encounter, but if the faintest whiff of the notion that infertility exists has entered their brains, I will have accomplished something. Sure, they may now think I’m extremely socially maladjusted, but that’s the price you pay for advocacy.
So: Here’s a call to arms. Join me in my asshole!
No, wait, that’s not quite right…uh…never mind.