On Infertility: Body Envy

I don’t talk about my experience with infertility often, partly because I don’t like to acknowledge its existence and partly because plenty of other people who care more have already spilled plenty of internet ink about their own, very similar, experiences. But infertility is no fun, and today I feel like talking about it. I’ll go back to pretending like it doesn’t exist tomorrow. I don’t say I “struggle” with infertility, because what is there to struggle about? Struggling implies I have some kind of power to fight back, and is necessarily combative, neither of which are particularly true in my case. I DEAL with infertility. I’m not fighting with my body. I’m negotiating with it. Ok, body, you do not really feel like ovulating on a regular basis. I respect your wishes. But I need a kid or two, so would you mind ovulating just once or twice? What about if I give you some very powerful drugs to help you out? How can we both get what we want? That’s the kind of conversation I have with my body.

When I mention my PCOS to others for the first time (and it’s always a mention, not a big reveal. I’m not “coming out” about being infertile, for goodness’ sake. Let’s not give it any more gravity than it already has, please.), I get a lot of sympathy and curiosity, both of which I’m fine with. I understand where it comes from. I get some pity, too, which I’m also ok with, because it means that person loves me and wishes I didn’t have a difficult thing to deal with. It probably means some less-savory things, too, but hey, we’re all human. The thing that actually hurts my feelings, though, is when people think their good news (“I’m pregnant!”) is going to hurt me. They approach me like I’m made of glass. Their hesitation hurts more than their news. Dude. Like, I don’t want your kids. Yay for you, whatever. You could have 10 kids or 0 kids, and neither situation has anything to do with my empty womb. Have a million. What does that have to do with me? I’ll throw you a million baby showers. Do you think people with get tired of the candy-bar-in-the-diaper game? Let’s do this!

The sad thing is, their caution is justified. My heart does twinge a little with every pregnancy announcement, especially when there’s a crowd of them together (and it does seem like they happen in three’s at least. What’s up with that? Do I even want to know?). But I’m not hurt and jealous over their babies. I’m  hurt and jealous over their bodies. I’ve given up the game that has me jumping through hoops to be skinnier, taller, blonder, and impossible-er. But I don’t feel like it’s so ridiculous to think that my body should function the way it was designed to. So I get irritated when women complain about having their period or PMS. Woman, your body functions exactly the way it’s supposed to. And that’s something I’m just never going to have, no matter how many cycles of Clomid I try or surgeries I experience or babies I manage to conceive. And women who can accidentally get pregnant? Surprise pregnancies? I’ve got some hardcore envy there. I recognize that not every surprise is a welcome one, and I know sometimes pregnancy is an outright tragedy. It’s one of the great injustices of mortality that the women who want babies can’t always have them, and the women who don’t want babies (or don’t want them right then) can. But since when is life fair? Doesn’t take away my envy though.

Mostly I can ignore this envy. Due to my highly developed skill in denial, I can pretend like I am as functional as everyone else. Envy slashes at me, but it goes away when robbed of attention. I spend a lot of my energy in gratitude, the antithesis of envy, and in service, both of which help. And I’m actually a pretty sunny person, inclined to find the good in everything. Sometimes, though, life is just hard, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. So if the light in my eyes dims a little, please don’t take it personally. I want every happiness for everyone, particularly my friends. My sadness isn’t about what you have, but about what I lack, my long-running grudge against God and the universe and evolution and whatever other forces combined to give me this particular dysfunction.

I don’t really know how to end this post. This isn’t a thing I want to talk about often, but I felt like sharing this discrete bit of my experience. Maybe I’ve just made life more awkward for us all. But truth has to count for something, right? Back to our regular scheduled programming tomorrow.


5 thoughts on “On Infertility: Body Envy

  1. This is a great insight into your experience (and no matter how many people have spilled internet ink already, their experience is not your experience). As someone who has felt awkward making “the announcement” its really good to hear your perspective. Much love to you and yours!

  2. Thank you for sharing your feelings and insights. I have borne children easily, but my second son and his wife haven’t been able to do so. Though they are busy and happy with their adopted son, I know they have ached more than I could ever imagine. Yoi have opened a communivation channel between them and me. Thank you, thank you.

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