So I was talking to my mom-in-law this weekend, and she asked me whether my husband had “recovered.”
“He’s fine. Recovered from what?” I said, half-knowing the answer.
“You know, he was so down at Christmas…,” she said.
“Well yeah,” I said, “Christmas is really hard on both of us.”
There was a pause. “Why?” she asked.
“Do you really need to ask?” I said, somewhat caustically.
“Oh … that.” Then we proceeded into a discussion about IVF and when we’re starting up again (I always lie by a few months, to give me some breathing room).
Am I just too damn sensitive? Because this moment has really stuck with me for the last two days. Seriously? She has to ask WHY we’re not chipper and cheery? At CHRISTMAS? Our second Christmas since our first child should have been born? (Due date for pregnancy no. 1: Dec. 23, 2006.) Never mind that we had to do the holidays with nothing to drink, nothing to smoke—a constant reminder that things are not okay.
You know how we Americans suffer from disaster-fatigue? Code-orange fatigue? Scandal-fatigue? Turns out friends and family can suffer from infertility-fatigue. After a year or so, they just get tired of hearing about it. They want to move on. I don’t even blame them that much—I’m tired of it too.
My mom-in-law apparently thinks that infertility is a problem that is in remission when you’re not trying, something that flares up occasionally, something that you suffer when you’re in a treatment cycle, or when you’ve just suffered a miscarriage, or when you’re going ten rounds with the goddamned HMOs. What she doesn’t understand is that half of the pain is the lost time—the every-childless-day-that-goes-by pain. What hurts isn’t the IVF, or the money we’ve lost, or the surgery (okay, that hurt). But what really hurts is NOT HAVING A CHILD. Day after day. Year after year. Christmas after Christmas.A final note on this rant. It’s also possible that my mom-in-law understands my depression, but couldn’t see why my husband might also be depressed. I find this upsetting. It’s easy to forget that our men in this long wait with us. And they hurt too.