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The Strangest of Places

It pops up in the strangest of places, when you least expect it.  Not like a spider dropping down from the ceiling, but more like seeing an old school mate in a random place, someone you remember hating in math class, but by now, the feelings have muted.

I was in the DMV waiting for my number to be called so I could renew my driver’s license.  Jon Ronson’s Lost at Sea was open on my lap.  I turned the page, and there it was on page 47:

As Nicky says these things, I think about how my wife and I were told we couldn’t have a baby.  We went through fertility treatments for four years.  Every month was like a funeral without a corpse.

And just like that, Infertility mentally sits down in the chair next to me at the DMV.  Even though I really hated her guts in math class, I can’t help but ask her how she’s been; to engage her even though I know deep down she’ll never change.

Do you find mentions of infertility pop up in unexpected places?  Where was it?


1 Pepper { 06.09.13 at 10:40 am }

Just last week, I took my daughter in to visit my mom on her last day of work before retirement. A kindergarten teacher of 27 years was also retiring and I got there in time to see the tribute her students/their parents had put together. Afterwards, she thanked them for being her children “as I was never blessed with any of my own.” It hit me really hard, standing there in the back of the gym, watching this woman I have never met before experience all of these emotions, and I had a flash of what my life could have been. (And it wasn’t bad – she was apparently an amazing teacher who touched countless lives – just so, so different.) But, yeah, talk about unexpected and out of the blue. For just a split second, holding my daughter, I couldn’t breathe.

2 deathstar { 06.09.13 at 11:49 am }

Pretty much every time I’m in a group of women (the preschool mums), and the talk turns to pregnancy and I go quiet. Last week, someone said, “oh, well you would know, like when you were pregnant.” And I blurted out, “I was never pregnant.” Pause. That happens every now and then. I realize I will be in the company of women 15-20 yrs my junior and I will watch their swelling bellies and infants in slings and I am NEVER going to ask them what their delivery was like.

3 Catwoman73 { 06.09.13 at 12:28 pm }

I’m reading State of Wonder, by Ann Patchett. It’s a book club book, and was another person’s selection, so I really didn’t know what it was about. Then when I started reading it, I realized it was all about a doctor who is developing a drug that would allow women of any age to bear children. Age was the primary factor in our decision to stop trying when we did, and as I have gone through the book, I couldn’t help but think about how a drug like that might have impacted our decision to stop when we did. Or maybe it wouldn’t have??? I feel a blog post coming on… Lol… But infertility reminders do seem to often come at rather unexpected times- I totally agree.

4 Brid { 06.09.13 at 12:56 pm }

I agree, just when I think I’m safe and let my guard down… I was at a funeral on May 17th, and afterwards, we went to the reception. It ran quite late, and we had all had a lot to drink… of course, there was a woman there who, I think maybe 10 years older than me, and somehow we got onto the infertility conversation. She doesn’t have any kids. Needless to say the combination of already-heightened emotions and vino certainly led to a deep commiseration between the two of us! However, I think it was a good thing… we left feeling good, not bad.

5 JustHeather { 06.09.13 at 3:41 pm }

I can’t think of any specific examples at the moment, but I do know I’ve had moments where infertility has popped up very unexpectedly. I think that is the way it is with life and things we are tuned into.

6 a { 06.09.13 at 3:42 pm }

Yes – everywhere. Especially in books. Apparently, it’s an easily resolved conflict. At least in print…

7 a { 06.09.13 at 3:54 pm }

Ha! And then I pop into my FB political discussion group and see a comment that implies that carrying a child and giving birth to it is the determining factor in whether you can love a child as a mother would…


8 Another Dreamer { 06.09.13 at 5:10 pm }

What a quote.

And yes. Most definitely. In literature, the news, strangers I meet, small talk at the zoo… it’s everywhere.

9 It Is What It Is { 06.09.13 at 5:27 pm }

It’s like when you mention a car you are thinking about buying and then you see it everywhere, I think our consciousness is raised to infertility (and then for me, adoption, too).

I read the recent TIME article on advances in infertility and completely bristled when they explained that egg retrieval happened laparoscopically through the pelvis? Um, really? So, I’m hyper sensitive to how ART or IF are categorized, too.

10 Justine { 06.09.13 at 10:44 pm }

A lot more in random unrelated conversations with friends and strangers, recently. I mention something, and then they start to talk about their experiences, too. It’s like the walls are coming down. And I wonder why they have been there so long.

11 Karen Sanders { 06.09.13 at 11:14 pm }

I am so fortunate that it is not a knife in my heart when those instances pop up now. Most recently, an acquaintance “liked” something for a fertility site on my Facebook news feed. It brought up lots of thoughts and instigated a thoughtful conversation between us that would have never happened before.

12 Battynurse { 06.10.13 at 12:21 am }

I really like that quote, like a funeral without a corpse. I run into stuff at work fairly frequently. A couple that tried for many years and IVF x3, another couple who finally became parents via surrogacy, a couple who were to adopt a baby via foster adopt, only to lose again when the mother changed her mind. That’s all in the last three weeks or so. I always feel a connection to these people and find myself so joyful at those who get their take home baby.

13 Kimberly { 06.10.13 at 1:06 am }

I find it everywhere. Most recently while watching the West Wing for the first time on Netflix and one of the characters and his wife in a flashback episode talked about giving a semen sample and scheduling treatments. They never said the word infertility but the phrases jumped out at me like a slap in the face at the first description of giving a semen sample.

14 Amel { 06.10.13 at 4:50 am }

Hmmm…it’s not so much as the talk about infertility, but I’m subscribed to this lovely FB page that posts lots of daily animal pics (mostly cats ‘coz I’m a cat person), but sometimes they post things like a pic of a lion and a cub or a pic of a cat and its kitten along with something like this “There’s nothing like the bond of a mother and a child” or quotes like that.

Depending on my mood, sometimes it can hit me like a lightning bolt or it can just make me feel like I’d “fallen out of my chair” ‘coz it reminds me again of my IF scars.

15 Amel { 06.10.13 at 4:52 am }

Oh, and I REALLY love the phrase, too “funeral without a corpse.” That’s really powerful!

16 Denver Laura { 06.10.13 at 10:33 am }

We adopted so we’re one and done. I was at lunch with some younger co-workers. One is getting married in September, but recently bought a rather large house. He said, “it’s perfect for raising a large family in. And we want to get started right away.” I quickly responded, “Yeah, that’s what I thought when I bought my 5 bedroom house years ago.”

17 k { 06.10.13 at 1:30 pm }

Always. Too many times to count. Magazines, books, random internet sites showing up in my ad feed on facebook. It’s one of the reasons giving up is so hard, because it’s constantly present.

18 fifi { 06.10.13 at 2:29 pm }

It crops up in the first two novels by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini. In The Kite Runner, the narrator and his wife have unexplained infertility, and in A Thousand Splendid Suns one of the main characters suffers multiple miss carriages. Done sympathetically in both cases, esp in ATSS with poor Mariam. Makes me wonder if the author has personal experience. He has a new book out and I wonder if infertility has managed to sneak into it.

19 fifi { 06.10.13 at 2:39 pm }

Oh and one of my FB friends recently posted a “you don’t know love if you’ve never had children” messages. Hiding her statuses now.

20 Monica { 06.10.13 at 3:38 pm }

I just came from the podiatrist’s office and as a new patient I needed to complete the registration paperwork. Well, wouldn’t you know under the social category, along with how often you drink/smoke is listed the # of live births. Really – why does the foot doctor need to know that? I’d prefer to see it asked if you have any children. That hurts a recurrent m/c gal a lot less.

21 Karen { 06.10.13 at 7:55 pm }

Today. An ultrasound picture of a high school friend’s third baby on Facebook.

Ultrasound pictures undo me. I had one too, with a flickering heartbeat, last fall. If all had gone well I would have had a baby last week.

xoxo (formerly Serenity)

22 St. Elsewhere { 06.11.13 at 2:11 am }

I loved the comments on your post – all of them.

It also reminded me to order Hosseini’s book ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’.

Baby loss has been figuring in random conversations I have with pseudo-strangers in the park where I take my daughter.

23 Gail { 06.11.13 at 10:12 am }

My husband and I rented a mindless comedy to watch the other night. It is called “The Watch” and is about a group of men that form a neighborhood watch and eventually battle aliens that want to take over the town. I thought it would be funny and the previews had been cute, but we hadn’t wanted to spend the money to see it in the theaters, so the rental price was worth it. Anyway, it turns out that one of the male characters is trying to get his wife pregnant and she is peeing on ovulation test sticks and going to doctors’ appointments and begging him to have sex with her yet he ignores her to go to the neighborhood watch (or so we think). I won’t spoil the ending, but I will say that having infertilty crop up in a mindless comedy about men was a shock.

24 loribeth { 06.11.13 at 10:49 am }

It’s everywhere. :p One recent example… dh & I were watching the season/series finale of “Rules of Engagement,” which has featured an infertility/surrogacy storyline over the past few years. The surrogate gives birth and in the final minutes of the show, everyone is admiring the new baby — and then the infertile wife tells everyone she just found out why she’s been feeling so under the weather lately. Yep, she was pregnant. I mean, really??! Ending the story with a baby isn’t enough, you have to throw in a surprise pregnancy too??? Wasn’t that laying it on just a tad thick?? It left a bad taste in my mouth for days. :p

25 Aerotropolitan Comitissa { 06.14.13 at 5:20 am }

It comes up now and again. Obvious things sometimes like those wanting to know if we’ll have another, but unexpectedly, too. I’m trying to think of an unexpected one. Sometimes it’s just a certain song shuffling on to the iPod.

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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