Our local newspaper is putting together a summer series of articles, which seem to be themed around the idea of a worst summer ever. I either haven’t read all these articles, or they’re only in the paper every few days. The first was a moving story by a woman of the loss of her brother just before Christmas a few years ago. It was a beautiful item, written with warmth and humour and love.
The second article was an insulting and self-indulgent piece, still subtitled Worst Summer Ever, about a woman’s pregnancy. No, nothing went wrong. Well, nothing beyond a waiter saying to her “are you sure you’re not having twins?” and her baby not arriving for a week or so after his due date. I don’t get very angry very often, and I hate to start off 2012 with an angry post. But this made me very angry. Not because she didn't like being uncomfortable - I can understand that. No, I lost it when she said there is a “special kind of hell” waiting to have your baby, not knowing when they are going to arrive, dealing with days and weeks of uncertainty.
A special kind of hell? Give me a break! This is a just-gotta-get-through this-to-get-exactly-what-I-wanted kind of hell – perhaps similar to a long economy class flight on your once-in-a-lifetime vacation. The kind of hell we all wish we could have.
I thought of other, far worse summers. Those of :
A friend breaking up with her husband of 20 years.
The family and friends of those who have died on the roads (or otherwise) since Christmas.
Those living in Christchurch’s eastern suburbs (the most earthquake damaged).
Those living alone - the sick, the frightened, the elderly.
Those who lost their jobs before Christmas.
Parents with sick or dying children.
Those who are trying and are unable to conceive.
Or even, my own worst summer ever was spent losing my second and last ever pregnancy (my previous worst summer ever had been the year before, losing my first pregnancy). As you know, I had weeks of uncertainty, then months before it was resolved, with more hospital stays, surgery and procedures. And of course, there was no baby at the end.
So many of us - not just in the infertility community - would consider the writer’s worst summer ever to be our best. I felt insulted that this woman – and perhaps even more so her sub-editors at the newspaper – were so self-centred and insensitive that they could subtitle this article Worst Summer Ever without breaking into hysterical laughter. Or perhaps they did?
The next article in the series was written by another pregnant-at-the-time writer, who had just moved to Wellington with her husband and daughter from South Africa. She was alone, depressed, in a strange land where they knew no-one, with a degree of culture-shock, but still positive. She reflected on her joys, and what she had, even whilst admitting how difficult it was to make the adjustment. She subtitled her article, My Best, and Hardest, Summer Ever. She doesn’t know that she redeemed my faith in women, journalists, and pregnant women. I might write a Letter to the Editor, and tell her.