Infertility: It made me forget the sugar.
I needed two items from the baking aisle. I was selecting some cornmeal when the conversation nearby got loud enough to intrude upon my consciousness.
How are you FEELING?!? Oh, fine, fine. You look greaaaaaat! When are you due? June 10th. Oh wow, so soon! Blah blah blah…
A sidelong glance showed me a lots-younger-than-me woman with a toddler in her cart (uh, the part of the cart where kids sit–they don’t sell toddlers or anything) and a great big belly. I was swept by a familiar sadness. Wistfulness. Yearning. Envy.
Most of the time I think of myself as parenting after infertility. An experience, rather than a state. This has to do with the particulars of my case–I seem to have been repairable. And while I expected to go through the experience again (starting right about now–we’d planned to start trying again in March, so I should be wondering if it was ever going to fucking work), I haven’t had to so far. Plus getting accidentally knocked up makes it feel extra implausible to consider myself part of an infertile couple.
And I know my reaction to that belly was just the result of conditioning. Certain stimuli are going to be painful for reasons that have little to do with logic.* It’s not mysterious.
So I looked down at my own perfectly nice fetus-filled belly, laughed at myself, and chose my cornmeal.
But while putting the groceries away, I remembered: SUGAR. Fuck.
Yeah, it’s a trivial example, but it was a reminder. For me it may have been an experience and not a state, but experiences alter us forever.
*I’ve often thought that if I wanted to do research on the psychological effects of infertility, I’d start by examining responses to the emotional Stroop among different groups of women who have had experiences of IF and loss. I’d be curious to compare responses among women still trying to conceive (and various durations and experiences therein), living childfree, parenting…How fascinating would it be if the average response among women who have been parenting for years still looked like that of women who are currently struggling… How cool would it be if the response could be reduced by, for example, therapy, or…blogging! (And hey, maybe my research could be used to create a scale according to which we could finally measure how much we’ve suffered so we could all stop pretending that we don’t believe in the Pain Olympics. So tired of those women with fifty dead babies pretending they’ve hurt like I’ve hurt.**)
**I can’t imagine that anyone would mistake this black humor for seriousness, but perhaps best not to take chances.