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Infertility: It made me forget the sugar.

[Happy NIAW. At least this year PETA is not being a huge asshole.]

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.

8 Comments Post a comment
  1. I will back the research and find sponsors only if the Pain Olympics are held every year with awards. Now THAT seems like something worth winning! (Absolutely kidding on that.)

    Someone has said that Infertility is like being a military veteran. You might not be in active duty, but you recognize civilians when you see them. Clearly those ladies were civilians. I am huge and still feel yearning and envy when I overhear other conversations between a suspected easy preggo and a non-preggo. I also suspect that your conversation took place at a WF. Which makes it more irksome when that happens in that store for me. It’s a totally unreasonable reaction on my part.

    April 25, 2012
  2. Trivial? Maybe. But sugar is a very important ingredient in certain recipes (many of the ones that I love).
    I guess that I am also in the experience-not-a-state category but I think that many of us are evidence supporting the fact that there is an after-if-state that profoundly affects the lives of many of those who seem to have moved on.

    April 25, 2012
  3. SRB #

    Ah, fuck the sugar. You’re sweet enough already.

    I’d be happy to donate my technical medical/clinical writing skillz to the cause. Having (ironically) worked on patient info materials for IVF protocols, I can attest to the fact that their is precious little (useable) research on the emotional and psychological impact of infertility. Which, frankly, is astonishing.

    April 25, 2012
    • SRB #

      Ugh. *there. My skillz do not include proofreading.

      April 25, 2012
  4. It is a hard mentality to get “over”….basically not sure we will ever truly get over it. Here I sit with a beautiful little man in my arms everyday and I still can’t help thinking that I am broken. I am constantly reminding myself how fortunate I am and how technically I am fertile now….it’s just rough and I know my experience is miniscule compared to some women.

    April 25, 2012
  5. Oak #

    See? The asterisk is the perfect vehicle with which to denote sarcasm. You know you love it.

    And yeah, I think you should get going on that study in all your infinite free time. Ready? Go!

    April 25, 2012
  6. I don’t think there is any number of babies that can erase the pain that we infertiles have gone through. I am forever scarred, and honestly I think it makes me a better person having gone through it! Imagine how ungrateful I would be if little Alex showed up in my life with barely any effort!

    And you crack me up – how sad is it that you have to make sure you’re perfectly clear in your sarcasm…

    April 26, 2012
  7. I’d have forgotten the sugar, too. And – like you – I’m sometimes amazed at how I can be returned to that wistful state so easily.

    April 27, 2012

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