Wednesday, June 2, 2010
Infertility 101- Know Your Audience
"You can borrow my belly!" hahahahaha- bite me. This is an age old joke I hear A LOT. I'm not sure where exactly the funny is so I've chosen to believe pregnancy robs some people of their humour. I would like to bluntly say the same goes for 'You can have one of mine!'. It's just not amusing. Trust me, I know funny and you are no Lucille Ball.
I realize it may sound like I'm being overly sensitive and I am. It's a fair bet that I am extraordinarily delicate on all issues surrounding pregnancy and children. It's a sensitive matter. Canadian statistics report 1 in 6 couples will experience infertility. So when you're making all your funny 'I'm pregnant and you're not' jokes, you may want to consider that 17% of Canadians think you're acting like an imbecile. Just a little something to mull over...
If you are someone who still insists these comments are humorous, and I am "just not getting it", by all means please make these jokes behind my back. I think it's important to know your audience, and I am simply not it. Through the years after reading thousands of articles on infertility and adoption I have come to the conclusion that my distain for these comments is normal. My reaction to this insensitivity may be the only normal thing about me, but you can't rob me of it. If you were in the same situation you too would think you're behaving poorly.
The stress of infertility is said to mirror stress levels of women with terminal illnesses. This is NOT to compare the situations.This is merely meant to illustrate the great level of stress this places on our lives. When you're talking to someone in this situation, you need to be aware that you are talking to someone who's a little on edge. Or for a better illustration of their feelings, think of them on a little ledge overlooking a large abyss. We are at the end of our rope a lot of the time, and don't require more prodding with the sharp stick of your bad wit.
If you have ever said such things, I'm not asserting that you're a giant meanie never to be redeemed. I'm concerned though that these comments have been deemed acceptable. It's become ok to joke about an issue that causes insurmountable pain. Infertility causes unimaginable stress, health problems, relationship troubles... The list goes on for miles. So no, it's not ok to joke about it. I think a lot of the time we feel so exhausted we don't assert ourselves. We don't call people on their comments because they hurt too deeply and it's embarrassing. The problem is if we never tell people this hurts, how will they ever learn? Hence the inspiration for this post. While I still suffer from extreme wimpitis, I find writing gives me an outlet to be bolder than I feel. So in all my blog boldness I am here to tell you to stop it. I am telling you it hurts. I am telling you it's rude.
With that in mind I will say this, the few times I have pointed out the brutality of someone's words they have instantly apologized. I have had the good fortune of witnessing people understand the sharpness of their statements. I do believe people aren't intentionally being wieners, they just don't get it. Which is why those of us in this situation ( and there's a heck of a lot of us!) need to defend ourselves and our emotional well being. We need to become our own advocates in our community so that the next generation of people struggling with infertility feel a little less isolated than we do. To the pregnant and the fertile I would implore you to use your kindness and good judgement with those of us who are unable to have what you have. You may not see our tears and frustration, but I promise you they are there. I promise you, this hurts.