Monday, March 26, 2007

The Other Side

There are two types of people who beat infertility. By beating infertility I mean that, despite the odds, a couple who at one time struggled has a successful pregnancy thanks to a drug, treatment, or just plain luck.

The first type I would call the chameleon. Once their dream comes true, their colors change. Suddenly, what has happened for them will happen for everyone. They find themselves telling other girls the same things that they themselves hated to hear. Relax, it will happen when you least expect it, have faith. But, now it is okay to say these things because, they are actually true after all!!!

One chameleon’s name is Jamie*. Jamie went to church with me. Jamie struggled for years to become pregnant. Jamie knew how it felt to be the only married girl at church without kids. Jamie experienced walking by the girls who were expecting or pregnant in the hallway and feeling unable to join in the conversation. Jamie stumbled her way through awkward chats with friends about potty training or colic, with no life experience to lean on. Jamie skipped out on baby showers. Jamie was like me.

So, Jamie would talk to me. We weren’t the best of friends who shared all of each other’s hopes and dreams. But we did share one dream, to have a child of our own. Jamie became a friendly face to turn to during those “being-a-good-mother-type” church lessons. She taught me tricks to ease the pain, such as buying an expecting mother a Target gift card, so you don’t have to brave the baby department. She was even there during Mother’s Day, quite possibly the worst day of the year for a childless woman, who each year at church gets a flower with the remark “You can have one, even though you’re not a mom”, or something as equally unintentionally heart wrenching. From a glance in the hall to a quick word in the parking lot, I had a friend in Jamie.

Then one day, after several failed treatments, Jamie became pregnant by surprise. No one had an explanation, it just happened.

Jamie’s metamorphosis happened instantly and without warning. The exclusive nightclub Pregnancy&Motherhood had waved her in and she wasn’t turning back, even to waive good-bye. In other words, Jamie literally never spoke to me again.

Maybe you're wondering if I stopped talking to her. Maybe I felt she had nothing in common with me anymore. Maybe I pushed her away because I was jealous. The answer to these would be no. I was ecstatic when I learned of her pregnancy. Finally, someone like me had made it to the other side!! But, she didn't want to share this experience with me. I wouldn't understand. This is why I found out she was pregnant from someone else. Simply put...I tried, she didn't.

Jamie joined the other girls my age with tummy bumps and babies in tow and discussed breastfeeding and leg cramps in the hallway. I was invited to her baby shower. I got her a Target gift card.

Soon after the baby was born, they moved. I saw her once more when they came back to visit. Still not a word was spoken, but I thought I saw some sadness in her eyes when she saw my arms were still empty. Or maybe that's what I wanted to see...or didn't want to see? Regardless, I haven’t seen her since.

So, the chameleon would be one type of “recovered infertility”. But there is another type out there.

This second type remembers with vivid clarity the heartache of infertility. They ask you how it’s going and they respond with empathy, not sympathy. They acknowledge your existence and that you differ from them in stage of life only. They are not overly optimistic about your situation and don’t assume success will happen for everyone, like it did for them. When they look at you, their eyes don’t say, “I feel sorry for you” but rather “I know how you feel; I haven’t forgotten the sorrow. My infertility has left a mark on me that will last forever and we will always be connected by that experience”. I have been fortunate to meet a few of these strong women. Many times, I am introduced to a person who once struggled like me. When they learn that I, too, have had this trial, I cannot express the relief that comes over me when I realize they are in this second category.

And should my dream ever come true, I have promised myself I will never be a chameleon.

*Name changed

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