Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Now I Know

You know, over the winter (which I hate don't like), I promised that I wouldn't complain about the heat of the summer (my most favorite season, hands down, followed by spring, then fall--I don't include winter at all), but little did I know that summer would be more representative of some other-world season than the typical summer I'm used to. We've gotten lots...and lots...and lots of rain. Which I'm not used to, and even though I'm very thankful for said rain, we are now on our fourth (or fifth?) day of overcast, gray, rainy days and of temperatures in the mid-to-upper 60's to maybe the low 70's. Which is fine. I'm not complaining. But summer-time activities are typically outdoor, you see, and we've been stuck inside for what feels like weeks. I tried to take my kids to the (unheated) pool about two weeks ago, and because of all the cool nights and rain, the water was too cold for them to even stay in. Crazy.

Which lead us to rent a movie from the library on Saturday night, because it was too rainy to do anything else. Plus, we never get invited anywhere, like, ever, so here we are.

Saturday night.

Living room couch.

The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (starring Jennifer Garner, one of my fave actresses because she is so darn cute, and if you feel the need to argue with me, just go watch 13 Going On 30 and I will have to say no more).

A) I didn't really realize what it was all about.
B) I didn't think I'd cry at the end but I did. (I have this thing about crying at movies--I hate it--but lately I've been succumbing to The Cry more and more. Not that this is a bad thing, I just get flustered by the whole matter.)

I'll try not to spoil it for you (incidentally, in writing this, I left out the word not, leaving the sentence to read I'll try to spoil it for you--a sign, perhaps, that I will indeed spoil it for you?). 

The movie is about a couple (Jim and Cindy, if you need to know) who cannot, after an exhaustive and very expensive medical journey, have any biological children. They are, understandably, devastated by this news, and the first couple of minutes of the movie portray their angst. 

It made me sad.

Especially because I have known several couples who are close friends over the years who have struggled with this very thing. 

Infertility.

Most couples struggle in private, preferring not to reveal their painful secret. Sometimes they feel ashamed or embarrassed. Sometimes they just don't want to hear the nonchalant and often insensitive reactions (often from people who have kids of their own) from other people.

In watching this movie, I could see that I've probably been nonchalant and insensitive in my comments or actions, and I didn't even realize it. 

It's hard to put yourself in someone else's shoes, especially if you've never had to experience what they are going through, but it's no excuse for insensitivity. So after a few strokes of the keyboard, a google search, and watching this movie, here are a few pointers for everyone:

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. 
If you have that awareness, you have good manners, 
no matter what fork you use.
{emily post}

1) Every month that a couple who struggles with infertility realizes that they are not pregnant, it's similar to the devastation of a loved one dying, as they think about the baby they will never have the chance to know--what their personality would have been like, what color their eyes would have been--and this takes a toll emotionally. So saying things like "It'll come, just give it time", or "Just relax, and you'll get pregnant", or even worse, "Maybe it's not meant to be" or "It could be worse" are not comforting.

2) Don't constantly complain about how hard parenting is. Conversely, don't tell a struggling couple how easy their life is/will be without kids.

3) Don't assume that IVF and adoption are options for everyone. Both of these are emotional and very expensive, and suggesting that either of these could or should be the "cure" for infertility in a flippant way ignores the emotional and financial impact on a couple.

4) Don't suggest that methods (such as IVF and other fertility treatments) other than having sex and getting pregnant are abnormal or strange.

5) Don't assume that just because a couple is young, they have plenty of time to get pregnant and they shouldn't worry. Youth does not make one immune to infertility.

6) Don't suggest or assume that the fault lies with one person or the other. That's just insensitive. And rude.

7) Don't assume that the couple simply isn't trying hard enough, or that they must not want a baby that bad. It's a real punch in the gut to tell a couple who is aching to conceive, who wants a child more than anything, that they must not want one enough.

8) Don't suggest an alternative "child" for the couple--like a puppy. Just don't.

9) If a couple chooses to share some of their infertility issues with you, listen. Be sensitive to their struggles and don't assume (if you are a parent) that you have wisdom that should be imparted upon them. Don't talk about your own issues. Give them hugs and kisses.

And tell them that you love them.

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