August: Dog Days of Summer

Sunday, November 4, 2012

THE question

I took the kids out for breakfast this morning. The woman at the table next to us turned around to ask if they were twins, and went on to coo over them. Because they are twins, they have always gotten alot of attention and comments: "Are they twins?" , "who was born first?" , "Aren't they adorable", "Are they fraternal or identical?" (This one always kills me- it's amazing how people don't understand about genetics and that only same sex twins can be identical), etc. It's nice. It's nice that they garner positive curiosity. I'm always very pleasant and patient and appreciative. Occasionally the line of questioning does go further. I can always tell when it's coming- there's a slight moment of hesitation- in theater we call it a "beat." And the inevitable question that almost always comes next, "Do twins run in your family?" The veiled question hiding the true inquiry of "Did you go through infertility?" THE question. I love this. People don't want to ask the real question for whatever reason- politeness, fear, misunderstanding? (I really do get this though, and it's fine by me.) My favorite part of this exchange is when I cheerfully, boldly and without hesitation, answer with a resounding, "No! We did IVF!" Depending on the person, this usually gets a hysterical reaction: stunned, shocked silence for a beat from most. Relief and smiles of comradery from others. Then they are either really embarrassed and try to back-pedal their way out of the conversation altogether (I do love watching these people squirm- obviously uncomfortable with the entire topic, or with my lack of shame about it), or they issue an audible exhale of relief, shoulders drop, and they start telling me about their experiences with infertility, either directly or indirectly. These are the people who are most kind, who understand the process and the miracle of these two children's existence best, and most especially the journey that brought them to me. I love talking to these people. Depending on the situation, I can gauge how much of my own story to share. I don't automatically volunteer all the details, and only very occasionally go so far as to divulge the fact that I didn't carry them. Even with the "new norm" of babies being born under all kinds of circumstances, it's still quite a different way for me to have "had" my children and it takes careful observation of the people to whom I'm talking to gauge trust. Maybe this is my own hang-up, but sometimes I just think that it doesn't matter who carried them- they are my children. Of course, it DOESN'T matter, and of course they ARE my children. But when the discussion takes the turn to sharing stories about birth, I'm sort of backed into a corner. My big thing is openness and honesty and non-shame. Create a culture of normalcy, and misunderstanding will only be diminished. Why should I hide or feel shame or even lie? Fuck that. I'm proud of my babies, and of the miracle of how they came out of my body, into someone else's, then back again into my arms. By now I'm pretty used to it, and I do love being "out" about my infertility. I'm proud of the sacrifices we made, and our niece made for us. I'm proud that we have such amazing technology that enabled us to have our own children, where just a short time ago we would have been childless.
These exchanges are always an interesting study of humanity for me. It's amazing to see people really stop and THINK about something, rather than skim over a shallow conversation. It's even more amazing when I think that people might walk away from this conversation A: Having learned something, or B: a whole lot more appreciative of whatever they have. I'm always humbled by how our experience changes people's views, or opens their worlds to new possibilities. Who knows- maybe my story has inspired someone who might not otherwise have made that choice, to go on to make their own similar choice and have their own children with a gestational surrogate? Pretty cool to think. Regardless of how far the conversation has gone in detail, the ending is usually some form of the question, "Are you going to have more?" While my initial reaction to this would be, and usually is, "Not unless it's a miracle!" It does make me stop and think sometimes. What if?......  stay tuned for THAT topic tomorrow.... :)  

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