Multimama

I'm a multitasking writer/mom to multiple multi-ethnic little ones, via multiple routes to parenthood. Just call me Multimom!

Don’t Judge

And now for the first is a series I’ll call “Lessons of Infertility:”

Lesson #1: Don’t Judge

At a recent playgroup, a new mom joined us for the first time. She was skinny and I, feeling fat in post-baby mode, felt a flash of jealousy. In that moment, and for no good reason at all, I made a whole set of assumptions–that she had gotten easily pregnant with the cute little boy at her side, that we wouldn’t have much in common. Of course, I always assume that I’m the only infertile in the room, which really makes no sense, given that one in eight couples (at a conservative estimate) experience infertility. Also given that I knew another mom there had gone through fertility treatments to have her son–but it’s hard to remember sometimes, when I feel like I’m constantly swimming in a sea of fertiles.

But somehow, we got to talking, this new playgroup member and me. She told me she and her husband were in the process of adopting internationally, but because it was taking so long, they were also pursuing IVF–with the same reproductive endocrinologist I see! Her son, like my daughter, was an IVF baby. She had had two recent losses after IVF as well (I had one, years ago). Suddenly we were sharing all of these intimate details, in a room full of other moms and rambunctious toddlers. My initial assumptions couldn’t have been more wrong: I liked her, a lot. It didn’t hurt that our boys hit it off, too.

This was such a good reminder to me, not only that I never know when I’ll encounter someone else in this unfortunate infertile sisterhood, and have the opportunity to reach out to her, but also that there’s no way to know in general what struggles someone else faces. Here I was, jealous of her slimness, when she would have loved to be working off baby weight. You never know what burdens someone else is carrying until you take the time to get to know them–and even then, they might be harboring a pain that they choose not to share, and need a little extra gentleness because of it. You can’t tell by looking who’s infertile or not, whose life is charmed, or not.

I think I’d been assuming that I stood out as infertile, even in this group of women I’ve become so close to in the years since my son made me a member of the mommy club. And I’m sure I do, to some degree, since we chose to adopt, and interracially, at that (well, and also because I’ve become very open about our struggles to become parents). But in many ways, I’m no more obvious an infertile than my new friend. And it doesn’t matter anyway, in that setting at least, where we are all just moms chasing our small children around the room. I’m grateful to my new friend for the reminder not to assume, not to judge, but instead to reach out and find that common ground.

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