Unbearable: There’s A Mommy War Brewing In The Fertility Clinic Waiting Room
Having a child is usually a happy time in a woman’s life. Unfortunately, as we wait longer to have children, infertility and trouble conceiving can become a part of the family making process. Unbearable addresses these difficulties.
I realize that I’m not your typical fertility clinic client. I’m 25 years old, still in my prime baby-making age, and I already have one child, a beautiful three year old girl who I love dearly. On two significant issues, I seem to be the minority when it comes to doctor-aided conception. And let me tell you, that waiting room can get a little tense.
First, there’s the age difference. Most people generally assume that women seeking fertility treatments are in their late 30s or early 40s. Obviously, the tendency for postponing kids til later in life has contributed to the popularity of IVF and other procedures. It also perpetuates the assumption that only older women need help getting pregnant. When I talked about the uncomfortableness of being the youngest one in the waiting room, some of my other Mommyish writers were surprised. “But isn’t it a pretty supportive place? I mean, you’re all going through the same thing,” they asked me during our weekly meeting.
Well, yes and no. Of course most women are kind and helpful. Lots of fertility clinics encourage their patients to talk to one another, join support groups and encourage one another through these difficult processes. But there’s still an undercurrent of, “Why the rush?” when a young woman seeks fertilty treatments. Other patients ask questions like, “Is there a reason that you want to have kids right away?” Or they make off-hand comments like, “I wouldn’t have dreamed of seeing a clinic when I was your age.” If these questions were from people knew nothing about infertility, it might feel less condescending. But coming from women who know the emotional struggle of trying to conceive, it feels like a slap in the face. It makes young women feel like they have no right to be so impatient when it comes to having children.
Then there’s the fact that I already have a daughter. Let’s just throw that word “selfish” out there right now, because it’s the very large elephant in a well-decorated room. There are frequent comments about how lucky a woman is simply to have one child. Other women trying for their first time will say, “Just one will be enough for me. I would just be happy with what I have.” It all makes a woman with a child feel a little guilty, like she doesn’t have a right to want more. In fact, I’ve had plenty of commenters tell me, “You should stop obsessing over having another baby and enjoy the child you have.”
I wish it were that simple. Even more than that, I wish those women who are trying so hard to have their first child knew that it’s not so different to be struggling for your second. In borth circumstances, it’s a constant cycle of hopefulness and depression. No matter what, there’s a longing to bring a healthy baby into this world that’s almost impossible to describe. Actually, for every woman who is spending thousands of dollars and countless hours being poked, prodded and examined, we’re all just doing whatever we can to perform a task that everyone tells us should be natural and simple. It’s something that thousands of women do every day, whether they want to or not. Yet the women in those doctor’s offices simply can’t seem to make it happen.
There’s a lot of resentment in those waiting rooms, whether it’s because someone still has another decade to continue trying to get pregnant or whether they already have a beautiful little one at home. It’s sad that we can’t all feel a little more supportive. After all, infertility is never easy, no matter what the situation is or who is going through it. Apparently the Mommy Wars can start before you even pregnant.