For those interested in our birds, they left the nest sometime late last week, and I’m relieved that the saga is over.
We took Eleanor to the birthday party of a classmate yesterday. Eleanor is the odd child out in her class, the only one without a sibling at home, and many of her friends are from families of three or four children. Inevitably, the talk at school functions turns to how these moms can’t squeeze one more soccer game or birthday party into their crammed days.
None of the parents knows my history, and so yesterday, I sat through many of these conversations. Then, one of the moms asked me, “So, is Eleanor just going to stay an only child?”
“Well, we’re hoping not,” I said. “I’m going through fertility treatments now.”
Awkward pause. “Oh, did you do that with Eleanor too?” she asked.
“Nope,” I said.
For me, etiquette dictates that you should not ask a stranger about anything related to reproduction. No “When are you starting a family?” or “Don’t you want more kids?” If you do ask, you might find yourself listening to some poor woman shout about her stillborn daughter over the blaring music at the birthday party of a 4-year-old. Though that is not what I did. I stayed quiet in an effort at tact. And because even though I sometimes do want to wallop people with my words for asking such questions, I love Genevieve too much to treat her story that way.
Strangers ask me about my family plans all the time, and I’m always thrown off-guard. Much of my work now is focused on stillbirth, infertility, and other reproductive problems. So during the week, I’m often reading about these topics, and though they are sad topics, I find it immensely rewarding to use the knowledge I’ve gained to help other families. I sometimes forget that reproduction isn’t such an ordeal for most people.
That’s why it’s so jarring when I’m out in the world and get these questions. Most people are coming from a place where reproduction appears to be largely in their control. I’m coming from a place where you try and try and try to get pregnant and then hope and hope and hope to have a healthy baby. I’m sure I’d be happier in that other place. I have no way to get back there. I like to think that we all have our purposes in life, and so I console myself with the notion that I might be an oddball mom by night, but I’m a stillbirth survivor superhero by day.