Saturday, September 6, 2008

the isolation of surrogacy

tonight we went to a department party to welcome all the first year graduate student. let me start by saying that i hate these parties, because i am the spouse and therefore am looked down upon, and who wants to be looked down on by a bunch of people 10 years their junior. i used to think that this was all in my head until another one of the spouses said the same thing and then a student said something about how hard it must be to be "just a spouse".

let me tell you there is no such thing as being "just a spouse" when that spouse happens to be in a PhD. program. in those cases you are the person that keeps said spouse's life in order so that they never have to worry about anything because there is no time for them to worry. in addition to making sure that my life is in order i have to keep his life in order so that his energy can be focused on getting his research, papers and whatever else it is he does done. add to this that i am going to school myself and that makes me one busy person. there are days when i want to tell him to make his own lunch or cook his own dinner, but i can not because there is no time for him to do these things. let me also say that during the time that i was working i never had to worry about doing anything around the house, he made sure that everything ran smoothly.

while at this party people kept asking if we had kids. i guess this is a natural question when people know that you have been married for 7 years. each time we answered no, the immediate response was "oh you don't want children?". not wanting to go into the whole explanation i just said that we were too busy right now to be able to devote our full attention. thankfully these are psychology PhD. candidates who have a basic understanding of the demands of rearing children. at least they do not think that children are pocket pets.

generally people i know well enough to ask the kid question already know the story. these people do not because frankly it is not the kind of relationship that joebob has with these people. it was the first time in a long time that i have been in this situation, and it was painful. more painful than i can explain. after the 5th person asked, i wanted to scream. i wanted the questions to stop and i wanted the assumptions to cease. i wanted to yell, "we want children more than you will ever want anything in your life, and the pain and heartache that we feel right now would shatter you." i know that this is not true, because 5 years ago i would have told you that i would not be able to survive this and somehow i have found the strength.

it was quite an experience to be around people who know better than to talk kids with me. i know that none of them meant any harm, i just forgot what a charmed life i live some days. it also made me worry that maybe we do not get out enough. these past few years have been so difficult that i have isolated myself from being around people who are not in my circle of friends and some family. that is right there are even some people in my own family that i try not to have too much contact with, not because they have done anything, but because i just do not want to have to deal with them.

being so isolated from others is something that i suspect that many others dealing with infertility do to themselves. the truth is that other than that we had a good evening. i met some people that i really like and was able to really enjoy myself once we got past that sticky subject. now i am wondering how many really fun nights have i missed? how many opportunities to step outside of the pain and misery have i missed? the truth is that even those people who are close to us are not around all that often.

this is something that i am going to try and work on over the next couple of months. i can not allow my life to stop.


Topcat said...

Oh Jaymee. I'm sorry you had to deal with those questions ... man, some people are just nosy. And rude. Even when they don't mean to be.

I wish you strength and love, on your journey.


Anonymous said...

I went through 3 years of IF and would cringe at the idea of gathering with well-meaning but STUPID people who would as the inevitable "do you have any kids?" questions. Now that I am 3 years removed from it I have found/caught myself asking the very same question I would dread being asked! I don't know what people think - including myself. Thank goodness the woman I asked did have children but you can be sure I didn't ask that question again. I felt my face flush after those words left my mouth in sheer terror that I had found the 1 of 6 women who is suffering from IF. I hope you are able to keep attending gatherings so you don't miss out on this crazy thing we call life. Good luck.

Yolanda said...

I hate to say it, but even after you have had children, these questions do not cease. I am routinely asked when I am going to have my next child. Since we were married for ten years before having a child, I learned to say, "It's not something we're tackling right now." If people didn't take a hint and would come back with something like, "What are you wait for?!" I'd just repeat myself, "It's not something we're working on right now." Post-hysterectomy, I I have used this phrase a few times. I prefer it to bursting out in tears and feeling powerless by needing to explain myself.

Amanda said...

when people would ask me that, i always replied with a sunny, "actually, im not able to have children!" and give them a little smile. it makes them feel as uncomfortable for asking as you do about being asked.

rarejule said...

none of their business... that said, I'm sending you hugs for their inconsiderate behavior and line of questioning (to the point it makes you sad)... your day will come!!

Silver said...

Man I hate that question... after 11 years of suffering through Infertility I wish I had the guts to just say "we are suffering from infertility". I too cut myself off from the mainstream, and to this day I still find it hard to fit in. It sounds like you have a great attitude, good luck with your wait.

calliope said...

amazing post. Isolating is the perfect way to describe infertility.

Shinejil said...

First, I want to apologize for the bs attitudes and the overgrown egos many grad students exhibit (perhaps because they think that will serve them well as profs?). To disrespect someone's partner because they aren't silly enough to pursue grad school is ridiculous. I can't tell you how much my husband has helped me get through my PhD program... He's been my rock.

Second, it is very isolating, wrestling with IF. And surrogacy is so poorly understood. I hope that you can find some peace and understanding and support here on the internets.