29 weeks and things are good, though I am rapidly getting more tired and achy and grumpy. I am now taking prenatals, folic acid (when I remember), iron supplements, Tums for the reflux, and hydroxyzine to try to help me sleep (despite my husband's attempts to ruin my sleep life with his watch alarm, cell phone, etc., and despite my whiny cat). I have a series of baby showers coming up (husband's office, my office, and then friends and family) which I'm really excited about. I'm surprised I am excited, because I normally hate baby showers. Childbirth classes are going well, too, only one left.
What I really want to write about is that I've had some rather strange, twilight-zone-like infertility experiences lately.
First, when I went to sign the papers for my new homeowner's insurance, the agent I met with was a pretty young woman who was enthusiastic about my pregnancy. She confessed she just had a little boy in November and was so happy about it. A bit later, she mentioned (for reasons I can't remember, I think we were talking about car insurance and fitting carseats in cars) that she had fostered children, and it turned out to be good practice for having her own child. I took note, but still didn't think much of it. Then, when she found out I was having twins, she said that she was pregnant with twins once, but that was before she knew she couldn't get pregnant on her own. I could only conclude at that point that she had suffered a pregnancy loss, fostered children perhaps in the hope of adoption, and then got pregnant either miraculously on her own or through infertility treatment. But I didn't know how or if I should mention infertility, or if perhaps any of my assumptions were wrong. I didn't know what to do, so I did nothing.
Then at work a few days ago, I was talking with a couple coworkers. Most of my coworkers, although not all, assume my twin pregnancy is natural, because I am a twin, my MIL is a twin, and I have several other sets of twins in my family - but no one has come right out and said it, they just say something like "oh, you were destined to have twins!" This coworker started talking about how lucky I was to have twins naturally, and there are so many twins around these days, but you never know who has them naturally because of fertility treatments. I was SO uncomfortable. I again had no idea what to do or say. She's not even someone I know that well, so it's not like I would normally be talking to her about my doctor's appointments or anything. So again ... sigh.
And THEN. Yesterday at the personnel appointment to help me fill out my maternity leave paperwork, the guy started talking about octomom and how she didn't expect all the embryos to implant and how stupid she was because everyone only puts back one embryo because of course it will implant, and how she decided to transfer all of them beacuse she couldn't afford the storage fees. It would have taken an hour to straighten this guy out, at the very least, and he was clearly quite prejudiced (although I think that even if he understood infertility and IVF, he still would have criticized this woman's particular decisions, and I can't say I blame him). I did correct him a few times, pointing out that most people actually transfer 2-3 embryos (hence the likelihood of twins), and that she had other options like embryo donation. But mostly I kept my mouth shut again.
I'm realizing that even after the babies are born - maybe especially after the babies are born - these issues will keep coming up, and I'm going to have to decide how to handle it. Most people really don't know anything about fertility diagnoses, or the differences between IUI and IVF, or the nuanced choices a couple has to make every step of the way. They won't understand our failed IVF attempt, our salvaged IUI, our THREE previous IUIs that failed as well. They probably won't understand that unexplained infertility is still infertility, and that there isn't exactly a straight answer to the question "did you do IVF?" (Well, no, but we tried, and it didn't work out, and yet we still had to go through most of the crappiness of it, and we ended up with twins anyway, and ... ugh, never mind).
There are so many times I want to stand up for myself and the infertile community and explain things, and tell people to walk a mile in my shoes before they make judgments or say what they would do. I'd tell them my own thoughts and feelings changed dramatically over the course of two years of ttc. That I always thought adoption was cool, too, but that faced with adoption as a matter of necessity rather than choice was not as cool as I thought, and that learning the realities of adoption made it a much more complicated decision - well, again, don't judge until you walk a mile in someone else's shoes.
But then I remember having these types of arguments on other issues. Without getting too political, I have strong stances on several current political issuse including the environment, health care, and immigration (PLEASE no comments on any of these things, unless it's to declare that health care should cover infertility treatments =), and I have always found myself leaving these conversations angry, frustrated, and hurt. I am not a great orator (I'm a much better writer, actually), and I feel I do a disservice to the infertile community with my sad, easily-defeated attempts to illuminate those who do not wish, under any circumstances, to learn the other side. It's not so much a matter of embarassment about my situation as a wish to avoid hurting myself and making the situation worse. While I would love to seek out and destroy ignorance and enlighten others and have them gratefully admit that now they understand my point of view, I am fully aware that what would actually happen is I would piss people off, put myself on the defensive, and retreat, sputtering with indignance but unable to voice what exactly my problem is.
So! There you have it. Despite the fact that so far I have been successful in beating my infertility, it follows me like a shadow wherever I go, and I need to start deciding on my coping mechanisms. Seeing that my current ones are a bit wanting.
What would you do?