Tuesday, January 12, 2010

On being normal.

I'm glad you enjoyed the video.

I was talking to one of my closest friends, S, about why the video might have struck some folks in our real lives more than just reading the blog/talking to us. She said that although I sometimes pour my heart out here, in real life I remain fairly well composed and on the video, even though we were goofing around, we seemed much more vulnerable.

It's true.

There have been many times I want to just bawl and bawl and bawl and hug tight to my friends but I fight that urge. I feel like I need to make them feel ok, to reassure them that I'm going to be ok. I guess in some ways I'm a people-pleaser. I can only think of a few times where I've actually cried on the phone to someone, and I really can't remember crying in front of anyone, ever.

Except Mr. LC of course. Poor Mr. LC, he really bears the brunt.

So I guess all of this is to say I try so hard to be normal, even if inside I'm a quivering, sobbing mess.

Now here's a place where I am not normal and I don't try to pretend: when I see babies. It's true--if one of my patients brings her tiny baby in to a visit with me I usually don't even look at the baby. I don't volunteer to hold other people's babies either. I don't make funny faces at babies that are in line behind me at the grocery store.

I just don't. It's self-preservation, of course, but it's also very very abnormal (in a non-IF world). Moms look at me strangely as if to say: "Why the bleep aren't you cooing at my adorable cute baby! Why don't you want to hold them!"

So the other day I decided to pretend to be normal. I got into the elevator at work and heard someone yell "Hold the door!"

It was a woman wrangling a giant double twin stroller. It took several attempts just to get it into the elevator. I felt my pulse quicken ever so slightly.

I peered in, cautiously.

Two tiny babies lay sleeping, their little heads in those adorable little baby hats. I took a deep breath, thinking, just be normal.

"How old are they?"

"Ten weeks!"

"Did they come early?"

"38 weeks, which is full term for twins."

I nodded. I attempted a smile. I couldn't quite bring myself to gush over their immense cuteness.

Then she decided to add: "And let me tell you, they are truly miracles! Created right here in XYZ Fertility Lab!" (said as the elevator opened onto that floor--you know the one, for IVFs 1, 2, 3).

My heart stopped. And before I knew it, these words just tumbled out:
"Yes they are miracles. We did IVF five times and it never worked for us."

Her eyes widened; her jaw dropped. And then she hustled out of the elevator as fast as she could, without saying a word.

I felt like I'd been sucker punched with a reminder that miracles are created every single day right below me, while I work away. That IVF works--all the time--just not for us.

So much for trying to be normal.

EDITED TO ADD: Mr. LC sent me an email that he read my post and wanted to comment. I told him to go right ahead. I just now read it and it broke my heart all over again. He's always loving to hold babies and coo at them and make faces at them and he's just so damned natural at it...and he's right...what if these are our only chances? To coo at a stranger's baby?


  1. Maybe it makes me a bitch but when it comes to babies, I don't even try to be normal. I completely and totally ignore them all the time, in all ways. A week or so after one of my coworker's had a new baby, his wife brougth it into the office for everyone to oogle. She picked up the baby and held it in my general direction while asking me if I wanted to hold it. I said "No." She frowned at me, turned to a female coworker who had been TTC for about 9 or 10 months and asked the same question. She said "No" too. The mom shrugged and put baby back in the carrier. In a really bizzarro, slightly mean way, it was awesome.

    (Of coures that female coworker now has a 3 month old.)

  2. As for the friends thing, ditto. There are so many times when I am barely holding on by a string and it takes everything in my power to just "show up" somewhere. All I want to do is tell them how much it hurts and cry and be the sobbing mess that I was just the hour before...but I don't. I smile and do all I can to be a good friend and not hog the spotlight ruining their day/evening/whatever. Dealing with IF is on my mind at some point every hour of the day (and sometimes feels like every minute). I don't think there is a way to properly share that with my friends or I would literally be crying every time they saw me. I think some of it is self preservation for us while some is to protect them from the nastiness that is IF. It's exhausting. Lots of babble to say I get it...and I'm sorry.

    Also ditto to seeing babies. We were at a college bowl game at the end of December and there was a baby right behind us...in the rain mind you. EVERYONE around us turned back to talk to and gush over the baby (even my M turned back to smile), but I wouldn't even look even when the baby was pushing/hitting my back for a few minutes...I just can't go there most days, especially in public.

    Let me guess...her first IVF created those twins. Not meant to say that in a holier than though way, but that reaction sees likely of someone who doesn't know what it is like to fail one of those things...over and over. Sorry your attempt was met with such assholishness. Many hugs, sweetie.

  3. ...and the hits just keep on coming!

    I'd like to believe that maybe she wanted to say something, anything, comforting to you or to acknowledge your journey, but she might have just realized that she had BECOME the mom that all the IF-ers avoid. (Not that it makes it any easier for you, but I can play devil's advocate for a second...) I know that I'm open about our journey to parenthood, and I like to think I'm pretty sensitive to other people around our daughter, but I know I've still said some really assholish things then realized what came out of my mouth. I am glad that she is willing to tell a literal stranger how her "miracles" came about- I think shedding light on IF might help chip away at the callous shell that society has built around it.
    In the end, I think the fact that you did reach out shows enormous courage and strength and more proof that you are a better person than most of us can even imagine!

  4. Can I tell you that I couldn't bring myself to watch the video yet? In my brain I know how devastated you are...but it is so much harder in real life when then I can't sit and cry with you and curse the fates for not bringing you guys babies.

    I think it is good you said your words to that mom.

  5. Gah, am I glad you wrote this post. Because I haven't felt "normal" for a long time. Babies and children are all but invisable to me when I go out in public.. I can't and won't coo at them. My boss brings her 10 month old to work on a weekly basis and I am the only one who won't go pick him up when he is crying. I think the other women in my office must assume I don't want kids because I'm not even ooweygooey with the boss's kid.

    And as for my friends, I don't even bring it up anymore. When they ask me about it, I'll give a vague answer, act like it doesn't bother me that much and change the subject. They don't get it - why bother?...

    While I'm impressed that she fully disclosed that her children where created via IVF to a complete stranger, I find myself a little crestfallen that she wouldn't have at least acknowledged your response. There she was standing right next to another IF sister who hasn't yet one her battle, and she can't even muster a knowing glance?!?! That sucks.

    Hugs. And thank you AGAIN for your honesty. I really appreciate it.

  6. I like babies and will coo, make faces and hold 'em whenever. I can be sad for us at the appropriate time, but we (might ever) only get these few chances to go GOO GOO GAA GAA, so I say why not?

    Mr. LC

  7. First off, the video made me sad. Maybe it was the combination of the song trying to get you there but the words on the screen saying, "Nope. Try again." The craptasticness of it all just came to a head while I was watching and I was just so sad for you guys all over again. Sucks!!!!

    And to the woman in the elevator- really?? You would think that she of all strangers you could run into would at least have some understanding of what you've been through since she said flat out she did IVF. An "I'm sorry" or even just a look to say she knows and hopes that you find your success soon. But in all honesty, any good person with a loving heart should be able to say something encouraging in that situation. People are stupid!!

  8. I am so, so SO glad you said that to her. Honestly, I wish I had the balls. Seriously. People need a reminder sometime, you know? That IVF doesn't always work. That sometimes, sometimes, there is heartache and failure and you never, ever, EVAR know who is in the elevator with you, their story, or their pain. I'm so glad you said that.

  9. I loved the video but it also made me so sad. It is so painful to watch because I want it SO BAD for you. You are an amazing person and any child would be lucky to have you and Mr LC- goofy dancing and all:):)

    I admire you for trying to reach out and be "normal" (whatever that is:) with taht twin mom. I never could bring myself to do it with others and I know it took great courage and sacrifice for you to do so.

  10. ditto sillyhille's comments.. "the fact that you did reach out showed enormous courage and strength" perhaps it's a sign of the beginning of your "healing" (i hear you- "you're never quite healed"- but connecting/demonstrating the honest side online to who you are in person must mean something?) did it feel better to say what you really wanted to (except for her reaction?) at the same time, we can't wait for the right reactions- we just have to be- no matter how people respond.
    on the other hand, i'm sure she wanted to say something but was just in shock after you were just as honest with her.. she knows on some level (albeit much lesser- but it existed at one point) how DIFFICULT IF is. maybe she wasn't sure of the right words to say.. i'm sure she keeps replaying what happened over in her mind and wishing she had said something - anything to make you feel better. i'm also awful with words- especially expressing myself on sensitive issues.. but i don't either consider myself an insensitive or stupid person. in any case, don't worry about her.. a lot of people are going to offend unknowingly- and unintentionally.
    i think little by little you are learning to "live with IF" maybe that means soon you will also figure out what will work for you and Mr LC to build that larger family.

    do you know people who have "overcome" life with IF? i wonder how they did it?

    i wish so much for peace and happiness in your heart..

    hugs, sofia

  11. Hey, maybe I’m meaner (not that I really think you are mean!) than you because I’m sitting here wondering how she even had the nerve to bring the babies back to the XYZ Fertility Lab! No matter what stage we’ve been in IF, I have always been a wee bit ticked off when babies show up at the fertility clinic. It’s bad enough going to my Ob/Gyn for my annual exam and being surrounded by hugely pregnant bellies, and then I don’t even have a safe haven at the fertility clinic? My first RE’s office had a once a year picnic for successful patients to show off their babies, but that still didn’t keep folks from checking their sensitivity at the door and bringing the stroller in the waiting room anyway. They don’t stop to think that some of us have been there literally for years w/o success or that someone is sitting there waiting for her D&C to be scheduled because she’s just been told the heart beat is gone (yeah, those are both me).

    So, yes, I totally get the self preservation thing. I hadn’t really put a name to it before, but thank you, that’s what it really is. Most of my fertile friends seem to get it, but one in particular does not. When we meet up for lunch, she seems to go out of her way to interact with any baby within her reach. She knows that I look away, but I guess babies are just her thing and she can’t contain herself even for my sake. But I digress…this is YOUR blog, not mine! You just struck a cord. I guess I’m so wrapped up in my own IF world that I thought I was the only one having a hard time with the whole baby in your face thing. It all sucks, and I wish I had the magic words to lift your spirits today.

    One day at a time, dear Mrs. LC. ~ Libby

  12. I don't coo at babies either... not even those in my family. I'm sure this hurts my relatives' feelings. But, it's a survival mechanism for me, and I don't feel badly about it. I've got to do what I've got to do to get by.

    I'm so, so glad you said that to the woman in the elevator! People need to know what it's like to be on the other side. The mom who wonders why you're not cooing at her baby needs to know that's it's because just the sight of her baby breaks your heart. The mom who had twins through IVF needs to remember that there are many women for whom fertility treatments do not work. Why should we have to live in the shadows?

  13. I work with pregnant mothers and new moms, If I didn't coo I would probably be fired....I can tell you by now that i am ONE hell of an actress!

  14. Add me to the list of people who don't fawn over other people's kids. Even before dealing with IF I was never into other people's kids. Maybe that's why I've been struck with IF. Who knows.

    I'm guessing you really took her by surprise with your comment (which I thought was very appropriate BTW) and she didn't know what to say. Hell, even my own family doesn't know what to say to DH and me about it. BUT as someone who's gone through IF, I hope she wasn't bringing them to the RE's office. That is the LAST thing I want to see when I'm waiting for a procedure or bad news.

  15. I agree with S. You ARE strong in front of us. I have seen, on numerous occasions, that second that your eyes tear up, the quiver in your voice, or a flash of sadness across your face, but it quickly disappears. I owe you an apology. I feel that a BIG reason you have not been able to let it all out in front of us is that there is usually more than just us present at the brunches and you are strong to protect and shield them. I appreciate that, but it has been grossly unfair. I am sorry. You should be able to feel what you feel and not be forced to hold it in, unless that is what you want to do. It shouldn't be forced upon you and I have been a horrible friend for not giving you the opportunity for that. It is why I think, the times you have cried, it has only been on the phone and it is quickly interrupted by them, even when I try to prevent that. I am sorry. Please forgive me. Please.

    If it is at all any consolation, I cry too. It's hard to explain why I cry on our way home from brunches or why I was crying while watching you on the video or why sometimes I just get upset over it all again (and again). As much as I know, it doesn't scratch the surface of what you know, felt or have been through. The video made it more tangible. Not so much the periphery of drugs, shots, transvaginals, transfers, etc. but the core of how YOU reacted to them. It killed me.

    Especially in stark contrast to what it *should* have been. Especially with how you are with them. How Mr. LC is with them. How all that wonderful, cute, fun-ness that you both are should be spoiled on your own child, not a strangers.

  16. I so feel for you. I’m the lurker who wants so badly for you to win the lotteries, you know, the baby lottery as well as a hefty mega million jackpot, so you can pay a surrogate to carry twins for you and Mr. LC. (and maybe throw a mil this way so I can have another baby). Anyways, I am praying for you, to my Catholic God

    Here are tonight’s Megamillions

    01-10-47-55-56 + 30

    and tomorrow’s Texas Lotto


  17. I am SO with you on the seeing babies thing. I IGNORE all babies or children under 5 years of age pretty much. My heart would just wilt if I saw a beautiful baby that wasn't mine. I know it's bad, but I almost enjoy it - the moms can't believe that I won't coo and fuss over their baby. After 2 miscarriages and now a lingering case of infertility, my broken heart can't take it.

  18. Hey, I couldn't muster the gumption to coo at a new baby and I even already have a kid! It's just hard to work up the courage to put yourself in such a vulnerable position in front of strangers.

    But I don't believe that your only chance to hold and gawk at babies will be in the supermarket line. You are on your way to whatever the answer is, and I am just hoping that you'll find it soon.


  19. I LOVE what you said to that woman. LOVE IT. I think if people were more honest about their situations maybe, just maybe, we would have less douche baggy comments out there from clueless people. I hope you continue to be honest, and if it makes people uncomfortable than GOOD.

  20. I read B's post and I cried. I'm still crying. I want to apologize for not calling you as often as I used to. It's because I don't want Katie to make a sound in the background while we're on the phone. My heart is broken for you. And to this day, I feel like I don't fit in with other mommies. I didn't make the "transition" or whatever it's called to motherhood from IF as easily as some people might have thought I would have. Nobody forgets IF and loss even when you hold your baby in your arms. I still cringe at women who didn't struggle through IF or loss when they say aloof things. IF has so many ramifications that people just don't get.

  21. You are so strong, happy for you that you shared your story w/ her, too. And what comes to mind is just because she did IVF doesn't mean she's dealt w/ infertility struggles - it could have been a choice. Just her no-response to your story makes me wonder....because I think any woman who was dealt with the sh*t IF brings would immediately sympathize w/ another. You know?

    Oh, and I look away from babies and mothers too, but my DH makes silly faces all the way through the check-out line at Target. Ugh. It's tears at my heart.