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Caustic

June 12, 2009

So, the title of this particular post is in all actuality a warning.  This isn’t going to be pretty (well some of it may be) but really- from my perspective- its just stuff I need to get off of my chest.  I hope that even if the pervasive tone of this particular post can be taken as “caustic” I can inject an undercurrent of humor.

Now that I have my warning up I can move along to something that has been gnawing on my peace mind since it popped up in my moderation queue for comments.  Now before I move on I just want to say that the intent of this particular comment is obviously one of comfort but because of it wording it just ends up causing more discomfort.

I haven’t (before now) directly addressed a comment in a post before but this is such a perfect example of what not to say to a woman (yeah, now that is singular since we are assured that the Hubbs is just fine) who is suffering from primary infertility.

I know how you feel. We couldn’t have any more after our first child. We spent years trying to find solutions. My son prayed for years for God to send him a baby brother – at every meal, no matter who was there. Sometimes these challenges are designed to draw us closer to God. I reached out, full throttle – and God delivered (do you like the pun?) Study all the women in the bible who had fertility issues. Start there. Then read Psalm 139. Meditate on that for awhile. My son had to take a picture from every year of his life and tell a story about it in the 6th grade. He explained how he’d prayed for a baby brother for years. “Be careful what you pray for because God blesses abundantly. I now have 3 baby brothers.” Well, four now. I remember being obsessed,depressed, crying until I put it in God’s hands.

This comment has been sitting, waiting for the click of the “approval” button.  Every time I went to make a decision on if it should be approved I would read it and just get angry.  My primary impression was “How is this woman going to tell me in her first sentence that she knows how I feel yet in the very next sentence saying ‘…after our first child‘?”.

Like I said, I know the primary motivation of this comment was to provide comfort and encouragement but this absolutely doesn’t.  There is no way a woman who is already a mother knows what it is like to face a lifetime without children.  That isn’t something they will (hopefully barring an unfortunate happening) never understand.  It isn’t even something they can begin to grasp.

Then to continue on to say that these things are sent to us to bring us closer to God assumes that I don’t already have a close relationship with Him or that He is using my fertility as some sort of leash.  To suggest I make a study of infertility in the Bible is one thing, but to phrase in a way that assumes that after four and a half years of primary infertility I haven’t already made a study of the subject comes across as a bit high- handed.  I wonder if said commenter realizes that every single woman in the Bible who suffered from infertility went through exactly the same things women today do- there was no resolution until they had a child.  Hannah wept at the feet of God.  Sarah (who I am sure also wept at the feet of God in her child-bearing years) laughed at the mere suggestion that after decades of infertility, followed by decades of menopause that she would bear a child.  Granted I haven’t gone through decades but at this point I do feel like laughing at any suggestion that I could have a child of my body. All things are possible with God, but lets be honest here- its not looking like the probability is that great at this point in time.

“Handing it to God” is right on par with “relax”, “take a vacation”, “don’t think about it and it will happen”.  None of these things are something you tell a woman living through infertility.  It doesn’t help.  It (to me) is something that is said by people so they feel better-  not so the person they are telling it can feel better.

It is also something that is easy to say when your life is filled with caring for the child you already have- while you experience what I cannot but desperately wish I could.

The only thing I am perfect at being is imperfect and that fact is not a surprise to God. It is no surprise to Him when my faith wavers.  The thing is that it is absolutely alright for me to be human.  I have not cursed God but like Job I question why I have to go through the trials I face. That is allowed.  The bible also tells us to “cast your cares upon Him” and I don’t see how that can be done without all the emotion that comes with those cares.

Back to a general observation of this particular type of comment.  What if I weren’t a Christian? If I were someone who wasn’t a believer, the tone of this statement would cause offense and over-shadow any comfort that was intended. What if I were in a place where I did curse God? This comment would merely deepen my disbelief and anger because it would be like infertility were a punishment for some deed done. I know this from spending so many years in the infertility community.  From reading the accounts from atheists, agnostics, and disaffected believers about their interactions with well-intentioned women (because let’s face it more often than not it is women who say these things) these comments do more harm then good.

I think it is pretty safe to advise that if a person has not made their spiritual beliefs known (either in their bios or a previously made post) then it is best to say something about how YOU will send them your thoughts/prayers, about what YOU hope for them rather than telling them what they should do and then telling them where to start.  Additionally, when you are coming from the other side (meaning of course that you are a mother) can I suggest that when leaving these kinds of comment you remember that rather than tagging on the specifics of your success (in this case saying that you now have four children) just keep it to that you have suffered through IF and while coming from a different place you still empathize.

Moving along.

So I think that in my last posting I said how my sister was having bleeding. Last night she knew she was having a miscarriage.  I am sorry that she is having to go through this kind of loss.  I know that it is hard- but she is in no way ready to be a mother. My mom called me just now to talk about her feeling about the whole situation.

I am going to take a second here and say that I love that I am my mom’s  best friend.  She calls to talk to me about things she doesn’t feel she can talk to anyone else about. Ok..back to the main event…

If the pregnancy had continued then I don’t know what would have happened.  I don’t think her boyfriend would have been very involved but I do know that my parents would have allowed them to stay home.  My mom would have taken on the care of both my sister and her child.  Now here is where some of my ire arises at my younger siblings- all three of them.

Right now my dad can’t work.  He has a failed kidney and does dialysis three times a week- four hours a day.  That means that my mom is the one that has to drive him there and be there with him. My two youngest (sister and baby bro) seem to insist that she continue to provide their transportation for them-not seeming to take into consideration the strain she is already under just trying to keep my dad healthy.  Not only does she bring him to and fro but she had to daily wash the dogs because of the catheter.  Still cooking and cleaning house for the whole immediate family PLUS my middle brother’s wife and child.  None of them help in any way and that pisses me off more than anything.  My mom asked my middle brother for help with paying the rent and he had the nerve to tell her no! He and his wife pay no rent to live at home. They don’t pay for any portion of the utilities. They doesn’t pay for groceries.  They don’t pay for childcare.  They do go out to eat for dinner more often than not and go out to the clubs (did I mention they don’t pay for childcare?). My sister at this point in her life would just add to that and based on current level of care- would EXPECT Mama to provide the care for her and her child in the same way.  Mama has reared her children already and if anything they should be offering to help her! She shouldn’t have to worry about anything but my Dad at this point.

Taking this into consideration I thought let my sister know that if she were willing to pay a third of the rent then she could stay with us and not have to worry about childcare. I don’t know if she would have taken the offer though I don’t know if she would have taken it-who gives up free for having to pay (granted far less than if she went out on her own).

(This post is taking me all day to write).

My sister and I just spoke and she had decided that maybe she should probably get on birth control and she went today to re-enroll in school. I think it is funny that the same words that came out of my mom’s mouth came from hers.  She is sad…but she is glad because she isn’t ready.

I think that this is definitely long enough for now.  I have wiled away the whole day in the composition of this … and Dear Reader if you made it this far then go ahead and pat yourself on the back.  I apologise that there was very little humor to cut the sour.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. kittyquilt permalink
    June 12, 2009 11:32 pm

    (warning- I’m not in a very nice mood right now)
    Okay, that comment would have made me mad too- for a lot of the same reasons. I hate being told to just “trust in God” and I hate it when people make comments about how if I was *really* “putting things in God’s hands,” that I wouldn’t be angry or sad about all this (so that’s not really how people usually say it, but it’s essentially what they mean). And on top of that, to say that she knows how you feel when she has 4, no, 5 kids? I get that she’s trying to be helpful, and I get that she went through a really hard time too, but…

    I’m sorry you’re having to deal with family stuff in addition to infertility. It sounds like you have SOOO much going on right now. I hope that you have some good things (happening now or to come) to help balance it out a little. (((hugs)))

  2. Kate permalink
    June 13, 2009 2:21 pm

    Did you ultimately publish the comment?

    I’m sorry for your sister but I understand your emotions as well.

    Regarding the comment, that always pisses me off. For some reason, the “it happend for a reason” etc doesn’t infuriate me. It annoys the shit out of me but I don’t want to throttle, but when ppl advise me to trust in God i want to smack them. Furthermore I HATE when peopel with kids tell me they get it. No, tehy don’t get it. They have pain due to infertility post child (is that considered infertility), but their pain is different from mine.

    No I have not approved the comment…Im still on the wall about it being there on my post

  3. Rachel permalink
    June 15, 2009 7:55 am

    So I feel I need to comment here too. I am a Christian, but the know-it-all tone of the comment bothered me deeply. I feel like my faith is a private matter between me and God and to have someone question, comment or act like they know anything about my personal relationship with Him would drive me batty.
    As a mom who dealt with IF for a long time before becoming pregnant, I do understand how frustrating/heartbreaking/depressing/isolating IF can become. I also know that without the miracles of modern science I would have never become a mother and I also know that was not caused by God being angry at me, it was just one obstacle in my faith journey with Him.
    I hope that your response truly causes women to think before they comment in a way that could have been way out of line.
    As for your sister (and yes I read all the way to the end) it is always hard when there is a loss, even when the pregnancy was not expected or wanted. I hope that going forward your sister is able to take some more responsibility for her actions. I know how much family can such sometimes and it seems like the siblings you mentioned are really doing a great job at it right now.

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