I've been thinking about the "good" old infertility days a lot recently.
First, Monday was the eighth anniversary of the embryo transfer that resulted in the birth of The Boy. I always feel somehow like that day should be marked in some way, but understanding the day's significance requires more of a grasp of assisted reproductive technologies than The Boy currently possesses. And as it happened, this year I had the flu.
Second, my brave and beautiful friend Lisa has written a very moving post about the isolation she has experienced when she received her recent metastatic cancer diagnosis, and, while I am not equating cancer and infertility, the emotions Lisa describes recalled the feelings I had all those years ago. Some of my relationships never recovered; a precious few were strengthened; and new relationships were forged, many here in the blogosphere (as I approach my 9th year as a blogger, it seems silly to consider those relationships new).
Third, I read Lisa Belkin's post about Kate Middleton, and I...lost my mind. Now, I don't always agree with Lisa Belkin, but I generally enjoy what she has to say. But not this time.
Maybe it's because I'm not much of a Royal watcher. I did think Kate Middleton looked lovely in her dress, and the wedding festivities were certainly fabulous, but I can't be the only one who watched with a sense a dread wondering about the pressure that this poor woman would be under to produce an heir, a male heir, post-haste. And it's not as if Middleton didn't know about that pressure, as Belkin writes "the spotlight comes with the job description. (Technically, becoming pregnant and birthing an heir essentially is the job description.)"
But isn't that pressure true for any couple--married or not, Royal or not--once they have decided to try to procreate? The spotlight isn't quite as grandiose, surely, but it sure feels like the entire world is watching everytime you show up to Thanksgiving without that bundle of joy your extended family has been expecting to see. And when then happens for many Thanksgivings in a row? Well, that spotlight is white hot.
And let's say that in the days, months, years that you've been dreaming of that cute reveal, the moment you'll show your partner the double line on the pregnancy test or slip the framed ultrasound picture under the Christmas tree, you realize that maybe you need a little assistance. You invite outsiders into your intimate space, by answering embarrassing questions about your sex life, submitting to invasive medical and/or social service procedures.
And if you're lucky, it works. The cute reveal is gone because you have too much invested at this point for the cutesy stuff anymore. It's all about the call from the reproductive endocrinoligist's office telling you that you're going to have to repeat the blood test or the adoption agency telling you they don't have your travel date yet.
And if you're not lucky. It doesn't work. And you whither under the spotlight year after year, and maybe, if this study is correct, you get to die a little sooner than your child-rearing counterparts (h/t to Julie for that inspiring bit of news).
I wish all the best to Kate in her family building endeavors, but no, the fact that the announcement was shared early is not something that I think should make us sad. Let's save that emotion for people who will never make the announcement at all.