Ok, I think I can see straight again. Maybe. I mean, the twitching has died down for the most part, the pulsing veins have receded from my temple, and I can hold my hands steady enough to at least type these sentences. Yes, big improvement.
So, did you all see this little gem that hit the airwaves yesterday? When I saw the title, “Double the Trouble: My wife’s expecting twins — and I’m not happy about it” my infertile spidey senses started tingling and told me in no uncertain terms, “Look away!!!” How I wish I had listened. Instead, I read as this future dad-of-the-year wrote of their first IVF cycle,
Thankfully, we nailed it on the first try. But while we were hoping for one girl, instead we got two boys. My initial reaction was full of disappointment, anger, fear, and guilt. My wife, who had been dreading the possibility of twins for weeks, took it worse. In her mind, this was her fault, since she’d encouraged the fertility doctors to put in two embryos to stack the deck.
Wait, what? OMFG, WHAT? You did IVF, made the decision to put back two embryos, and you’re pissed you’re having twins. And nasty little boy twins at that? Someone bring me vodka and a hammer so I can dull this overwhelming rage. (Vodka’s for me, hammer’s for dada’s testicles.)
I tried to write this post last night, but the rage was too raw. Most I could muster was a quick share with my friends in the computer which elicited by a flurry of my favorite cuss-words. Then, I went to bed at 9pm. This shit got to me.
As I lay there trying to sleep and envisioning brutal bodily harm, I realized what it was that bothered me the most. It wasn’t the smugness of the horrid little man that would write, “We nailed it on the first try,” the unjustness of a world that would grant this one-bedroom-apartment couple immediate IVF success and baby boys 2 and 3 as I watch hundreds of others fail cycle after cycle and be ineligible for adoption due to similar living arrangements, and it wasn’t even the idiotic chimings-in of many commenters. What got under my skin is that this man was given his soapbox, that this story went viral, and that this is the article that my aunt will likely forward me in a few days with the subject line, “Are you sure you want to put all those unnatural hormones in your body?”
National Infertility Awareness Week is an amazing time in the fertility community, but for the past three years I’ve struggled with how it is handled outside of the infertility community. My skin has been thoroughly thickened in the past several years, but living through that exceptional week, even this year, was still an internally divisive experience. I felt so connected to my infertility sisters and brothers, I received tremendous support from many in my life (inside and outside of the community), but I still struggled with the way this week was covered in the mainstream media. When I tuned in to Huff Post Live’s “The Hard Truth About Infertility” last week, I wasn’t remotely surprised that the first words out of the host’s mouth were, “Fertility treatments have made it easier for women to conceive well into their 40s but waiting still comes with risk.” The story of infertility is still written on the margins of our experiences. A happily married, home-owning, hard-working, well-educated, 26-year-old infertile woman is not remotely as sexy a story as pregnant 46-year-old Halle Berry or the world’s biggest douchebag discussed above.
Don’t get me wrong, everyone should have their voice, all should feel free to express their feelings in all venues available to them, and freedom of the press is a good thing. Hell, I’d be the biggest hypocrite in the world if my blogging ass advocated for a shuttering of free expression. And, I’ll be honest, I’m sure raising twins isn’t a walk in the park and, as someone that knows she is going to be beholden to artificial reproduction techniques, the prospect of multiples scares the bejeezus out of me. We certainly should all feel free to discuss the bad and the ugly of infertility along with the good. Post-partum depression after years of infertility, the stress and worry of being pregnant after infertility, and the process of coming to terms with living with infertility after you are no longer trying to conceive (whether that life includes children or not) are all avenues that should be explored more, not less. But, the content we are exposed to in mainstream media is curated by someone, it’s collected and disseminated and through that process it’s also interpreted. Bias is inherent in the publication of the world’s stories. What I have trouble with is the fact that those curating the story of infertility on the most public of stages incessantly rehash the rare, promote the exceptional, and cold-shoulder the common.
To Babble’s credit, the Disney-sponsored parenting blog published “Expecting Twins? Don’t Freak Out: 10 Pieces of Solid Advice” somewhat in response to the asshat above, but that story won’t get remotely the same mileage as the other. The harm’s been done. My twin mom friend in the computer is still correct when she wrote to me, “He’s also just encouraging all the assholes at the supermarket who say shit like ‘better you than me.'” My aunt will still tell me to, “Hope harder and stop trying to play God.” And, the most damning of all, another cohort of individuals will go around with one lone quote from an ignorant ingrate on constant loop:
Of course I’m sympathetic to people who can’t get pregnant, or who spend a couple of years trying IVF after IVF. But having kids is a selfish endeavor, and in these cases it’s all very relative and highly personal.
Thanks for giving me your sympathy, anonymous coward; however, if you really thought this was all “highly personal” why are you out there on the airwaves throwing the world’s biggest pity party and damning the rest of us through your unattributed words? Thanks, but no thanks!