04 October, 2012

Being seen and heard

I have a friend who has had a very different fertility journey than I have.  She is already a grandmother, always wanted kids, had them early and without difficulty (conception, that is) despite being told she might not in fact be able to have any.  She’s now an empty-nester – which explains how, on short notice, we could meet at our favourite cocktail lounge last night for a drink.

She’s been supportive of me (and understanding) all the way.  From back in the mid-90s when I was torn about whether I wanted kids or not, through my ectopic pregnancies and now, my no kidding blogging life.  She talks when I need to talk, and doesn’t when I don’t want to.  She’s one of my few (I think) real life friends who reads this blog, and if I talk about having a reasonable friend, it’s her!  (Though I did also post about her here.)

She has prompted a number of my posts, and I have another post brewing about something we’ve talked about.  But today I wanted to note something that surprisingly and almost instantly had our eyes welling up.  She has an elderly uncle, and she’s a good niece (I should copy this to my nieces as a less-than-subtle hint!).  She visits him at his house in the South Island, and has him to stay here.  He and his wife (now gone) never had children.  My friend says her mother recalls them buying a pram, but then nothing happened.  I suspect that something happened – a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy – that meant the pram was never filled.  The family – or perhaps just the matriarch – were judgemental about his wife.  I’ve often suspected my own mother-in-law being judgemental about me in the same way.  This was the 1950s and 60s, so very much a sign of the times.

Recently Uncle D visited my friend.  She says something came up about him having no children, and she said to him simply, “I’m so sorry.”  He looked at her and nodded.  It was the first time she ever remembers it being acknowledged between them.  We agreed, as our eyes filled with tears and we sipped our drinks in an attempt to recover, that this could have been the first time anyone ever said that to him.  I hope not.  But I’m glad she said it.

In the same way that even though I hope all of you have at least one friend like A, I am also glad that we all have each other.  We all need to know that at least one person in the world sees us, and understands, and says “I’m so sorry.”

Even when we're happy, free, and drinking on a Wednesday evening in spring.


  1. VERY TRUE, Mali. VERY true. Feeling alone in the chaos makes things even more chaotic. I started feeling so lost and confused and crazy to have all the chaos within me. And again it's always helpful to have "others before me" to cling unto, to let others know that everything will be OK even without kids. :-) Even after everything seemed to fall apart.

  2. This goes back a ways, but for the last two weeks or so I've been feeling just really "disenfranchised". I came across a blog by a couple undergoing RT for the same issue that has kept dh and I from having children. Only DH never wanted to try anything. In fact, he was never open with me about the diagnosis. I think under the best of circumstances, men have a difficult time communicating around the entire topic of family building and infertility. Triply so, when the issue is MF. I am not with DH for the sake of future kids; was not thinking about kids when I fell in love, and not focused on having kids for a long, long time after, and ultimately, we cannot make our partners do what they don't want to do, but this sense of not having a say has just left me feeling so powerless. Last night I was talking to his brother who never wanted kids and has been involved with a woman who is older than him and can no longer have children, and for the first time he was contemplating that it could be a problem because he might want kids after all. I guess I just felt like one more person who seemed happily childfree was switching sides, and I felt even more alone. I came online to look at my blogs and be where I felt less alone.

  3. It is so wonderful to be heard, and understood, isn't it?

  4. it is so wonderful to be heard. my best friend had a baby earlier this year and we are both able to speak to about our situations honestly. it is great, because i get to hear about the good and bad about being a parent. and i am able to talk about the good and bad of being childless/childfree.