I don't talk about infertility very often with other people, especially not with people that have kids. Yesterday I made an exception. I was hanging out with a friend and one of her friends. I had met her a couple of times before and really enjoyed her company. I felt fine saying things around her, so I spoke freely without guarding what I said. What I mean is infertility completely changed my life and I wouldn't be back in school nor would I be moving if life had gone as I had hoped. But I'm so used to censoring myself around others that I do it without conscious thought. However, when I feel like I'm around "safe" people, I feel like I can speak honestly and openly without editing my experiences.
This woman is in an interesting spot. Her relationship of 20 years is rocky. Her son is almost finished with his 10th grade year of high school. She shared with us that she spent most of the last two decades being a wife and a mom. Now she wasn't sure her marriage was going to make it and she knew her son was growing up and would be out of the house in two years. She was wondering what she wanted out of life, what she was going to do next.
It seemed to make sense to share that, although our situations were different, I was in a similar position several years ago. I told her I wanted kids my whole life but when it became apparent that it wasn't going to happen for me, I got extremely depressed and thought "Now what." Like her, I didn't know what to do with my life.
I felt safe in speaking honestly. I didn't feel self-conscious. My only concern was that I hoped my comparison didn't bother her at all. I mean, I have a secure relationship and her lack of one is one of her current struggles. But I thought that maybe the fact that she did have a child and I didn't, that it balanced out our circumstances. Thankfully, she didn't seem offended or bothered or anything.
But she did almost immediately say, "What about adoption?" To which I replied, "Tried that."
(I've posted about this before, but when I say I "tried" adoption I did not get very far in the process at all. After extensively researching agencies I found one that I wanted to work with. Then they went bankrupt. It shook my confidence to the core. I didn't know how I could trust another agency after the one I had spent so much time looking into had just left so many families hanging--no child and now no money. Plus, that was the last little bit of energy I had. I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't live in limbo and, after all of the heartbreaking years, I couldn't keep trying to parent anymore.)
I shared with her that adoption wasn't as easy as everyone thought. That a lot of things had changed in society, which was good, and it was no longer shameful for women to be single mothers. That adoption was very expensive, that it was a very long wait, that it wasn't guaranteed, that there were more people wanting to adopt than there were babies available for adoption, and that I knew more people who had tried to adopt unsuccessfully than had been successful.
Without pause she asked, "What about surrogacy?"
At this point I looked at my friend and she and I exchanged looks. This friend knows everything. She was my rock during the years I was going through it all. We've had many discussions about the weird things people say to me and the questions that I'm asked. Also, this friend doesn't have children and understands the pro-natalist bias of society as well.
But my friend's friend wasn't being rude. I didn't feel an ounce of judgment from her. I felt like she knew I wanted to be a parent and it was almost as if she wanted to fix my problem for me. But I also didn't want to explain myself or educate her any further.
I said, "No. We're not going to do that. The whole situation is closed now and I've moved on with my life." The woman accepted this and didn't ask any more questions.
I think she was just genuinely curious and I was the one who brought the whole topic up by being forthcomingly honest. I could tell I was in such a different place compared to years past because her questions didn't anger or hurt me. But they did reinforce the idea that fertile people just really have no idea. They do not understand the toll infertility takes at all.