One of the reasons dealing with infertility was so difficult for me (among all the other reasons) was feeling like the defective one in an orchard of fertile mango trees. I have over 45 cousins and it seems everywhere I turn another aunt is cranking another out. In the midst of all this reproduction, there was me, the cheese, standing alone. My mom didn't help matters when she would say in a plaintive tone, but no one in our family has clotting disorders or PCOS, how did it happen to you? I began feeling like an X-man, but not a cool one.
When my mom relayed to me in the past, that Aunt X,Y,Z are praying for me to have a baby, I felt like a strange mutant. The fertiles staring with pity at this weird infertile. This pissed me off, their assumption (albeit correct) and corresponding pity that there was something wrong with me. I felt their superior eyes and the clucking of their tongues in disapproval as they herded their multitude of children around their breasts.
So imagine my surprise at this conversation I had today.
Mom: You'll be the first to have a firstborn son on my side of the family.
Me: What about Aunt G? She has three boys.
Mom: Her firstborn was a girl, she was stillborn.
Me: Uh, what?
Mom: She tried to conceive for two years after that with no luck. Finally her doctor put her on some sort of diet and then she got pregnant without an issue.
Me: I thought I was the only one who had issues getting pregnant.
Mom: Come to think of it Aunt J. She has two kids but she had at least six miscarriages we know of. She gained all this weight she couldn't lose, had hair under her chin, her periods went wacky, she was tired all the time. . . it was sad, she never really wanted to talk about it.
Me: Anyone else?
Mom: Well your cousin F had her first very quickly, shotgun wedding, but then she tried for three years for baby #2. I think she said she had a hormonal imbalance. .
Mom: Yep- that's it! Hey, like you!
Me: Sigh. Anyone else?
Mom: Well no one else really, your grandmother, God rest her soul, she lost two sons a few days after birth and she had a lot of miscarriages, but in those days you never knew for certain if your period was just late or if you had a miscarriage but I remember sometimes she just knew.
Talk about perspective change. Perhaps they meant it when they said they prayed for me, and it was not a veiled snide remark at the sole infertile in the family. I don't have a close relationship with many of my relatives for legitimate reasons but knowing they struggled like me softens my heart towards them. It also helps me let go of some of the guilt I've felt all these years about being the sole carrier of clotting issues and PCOS. Why did these things happen to me? Perhaps I deserved it. These feelings were never articulated but I now realize I've internalized it because the knowledge that this is likely a genetic issue based on a family history is helping me feel just a little bit lighter today.