We have all been there. You seem to be having a decent day. You haven’t cried yet. No one has called and accidentally reminded you of your “current situation”. The smile you are wearing feels almost truthful. And then it happens. The topic of children comes up. Well to others, the topic of children came up. To you however, the “I’m a failure, I don’t deserve to be a mommy, my body is betraying me, but you don’t even look sick” topic just came up. She has no idea how her words hurt.
Some of us have a few responses/reactions in our tool belt ready to go. So what do you normally say to that girl? Which tool do you use the most?
Now what if that girl…..
Is 4 years old?
I recently visited some friends. PC’s friend, his wife and their 2 little girls. PC and I have known these friends for almost 10 years now. We were pretty close even before they were married and before they had kids. They were there when PC and I got re-married. They had their first daughter before my diagnosis. I just love that girl!! I could dedicate and entire post to this child. I mean, seriously, she is awesome! The teacher in me is sad she was never my student. Anyhow, It was a great visit. I wasn’t there long but the mom and I had time to catch up. I gave the girls their belated birthday presents. Then of course, we played with their birthday presents. It was nice. Then after hugs and kisses goodbye, as I was walking out the door…it happened.
My favorite little four year old, grasping on to the bottom of my t-shirt, looking up at me with her beautiful blue eyes, asks me “Where is your kid?”.
You could have heard a pin drop. Her mom had the saddest, most sympathetic look on her face as she anticipated my response. I could feel the tension in the air. All eyes were on me. PC stayed home this evening so I was standing there all alone. This is usually the point where PC squeezes my hand with a small shake of confidence, letting me know it will be ok no matter how I choose to respond.
I NAILED IT! My heart still sunk to the pit of my tummy and I still had to take a deep breath but somehow I was able to treat this little girl just like I would have treated any child 5 years ago (pre – diagnosis). I sat down next to her and asked “My kid? Which one is my kid?”. I knew she was referring to someone specific so we chatted for a second until I figured out she was talking about my niece. They have met my niece a few times. It has been well over a YEAR since they have seen my niece though. I wasn’t surprised she remembered. I told you she was awesome!
During this IF journey I have convinced myself I would never be the care-giver I was before my diagnosis. I just didn’t think I could do it. My nickname as a pre-k teacher was “The child whisperer”. That was my identity. I couldn’t “escape reality” for 8 hours a day while at work because I worked with kids! My career was my life. And suddenly going to work was heartbreaking instead of heartfulfilling. It was devastating! I went from happy teacher to sickly housewife in, what seemed like, the snap of a
finger latex glove.
But there is hope!
Here’s how I see it… From now on, I will treat all the fertile people I come across in life… like a child!! I don’t mean that in an insulting way. I mean, I will focus on their similarities to my favorite 4 year old. As soon as their “advice” slips out of their mouth I will jump into “child whisperer” mode again. Before I respond, I will remind myself of their innocence, their genuine naivety. I will channel the love, understanding, patience and respect I rely on when caring for a kiddo. Just as with a child, I can’t expect all fertiles to know what to do or say unless I tell them or show them what is acceptable. That means the next time this subject matter comes up, whether I am on the receiving end or not, I won’t freeze. I will NOT just sit back and fight my own tears or pray I suddenly turn invisible. I will speak up. Maybe make a few suggestions. I don’t even have to present such info as “personal experience”. But if we don’t tell them, who will???
I think if I could make a habit of this, I might be able to gain my confidence back. One day, if I so choose, I will work with kids again. I will start this immediately. Wait, can I start tomorrow? I’m kinda tired…
Much Love To All!