Every once in a while, complete strangers (or people you know at a highly superficial level, like neighbors down the street) say the most insensitive things unwittingly. And usually, we just let it slide or say something mildly sarcastic (that only we, or a friend in the know who is with us, pick up as sarcasm). The first time it happened was right at the beginning of our journey, about a month after we got married. Our neighbors down the street, who have two children in the late-elementary-early-middle-school range and are always frazzled and driving off to one practice or another with harried expressions, commented on Bryce's car. Bryce is an Audi guy. He likes to drive a fun car. He never gets them new--so they look very expensive but in reality aren't more than, say, a new CRV would cost--but his choice of car causes people to have certain assumptions. Bryce's current car is technically a sports car, but in the housing of a family sedan. It's sleek and fast but a four-door with built-in window shades (no "baby on board" shade featuring Winnie-the-Pooh required in this car), and has lots of great safety features. But, it has a V-8 engine and makes a lot of purring and roaring noises. And it's fast. The dad of the family down the street (who can't be that much older than we are) said to his wife, "when can we get a car like that?" (they drive an SUV) and her response was "Whatever, they don't have kids. That's why they have that car. Just you wait." It was the beginning, so I wasn't as jaded and open and easily irritated as I am now. But I just laughed a forced laugh "haha, yup, we are certainly free as little birds!" and tried not to give in to the overwhelming urge to get psychotic and yell "WE WANT YOUR STUPID SUV! WE WOULD TRADE THIS STUPID VROOM VROOM THING AND OUR "FREEDOM" FOR YOUR CRAZED SCHEDULE IN A HEARTBEAT!" It wasn't worth it. (However, now I silently goad on these same neighbors... go ahead--say something to me now!) They have no idea what we are going through. I can't blame them for being insensitive to an issue that they know nothing about. But you can bet I would clear up that misconception pretty quickly should a comment arise now.
Last night we went out for Thai at a restaurant we go to fairly frequently. We had a waitress we haven't had for a while, and at the end of the night she asked the question I dread. "Do you have kids?" Now, just to be clear, it's not the question that bothers me. It's the reaction to our answer. It is perfectly ok to ask a couple if they have kids, especially when they look like they're in their thirties and it's feasible they might. It's what happens next that burns my britches. We say "not yet," or just "nope" without any happy expression to be seen. And, like the waitress last night, people tend to say some variation of "Oh, you're so lucky." Given, if you don't have kids you have certain freedoms. You can sleep in without someone crying in the next room or jumping on your sternum whining "Mommymommymommy wake up I need juice." You can go out to dinner more freely. You aren't spending money on diapers and school supplies (for others) and food for more than just the two of you. At least, if you don't have kids by choice, either because you aren't trying or you don't intend to try. It's a little different when you have been working very hard to lose those freedoms but to no avail. So do we feel lucky? Not so much.
Last night Bryce was my hero. Usually he just says something sarcastic and laughs it off or virtually dismisses it. Like the other day when he got breakfast at the Wegman's across from his office and one of the ladies he sees every day said "Do you have kids? You'd be a great father. I bet kids just love you! You should have kids!" and Bryce's response was "No, kids don't like me." It's a defense mechanism, and his friend totally got what he meant. Haha, kids don't like Bryce because we've technically conceived 8 times--8 little embryos, half me and half Bryce, have gone into my uterus--but none of them have stayed. Or stayed very long. Haha, kids don't want to hang out with us. Very funny. At first when Bryce takes that tack with people I get irritated--like he's misrepresenting himself to avoid the conversation and somehow jinxing us. But I do kind of get where he's coming from.
Except last night, Bryce rose the to occasion first. The waitress asked her question, and I said "Not yet." She said, "Oh, you're so lucky!" and Bryce immediately (but very politely) said, "No, actually, we're not lucky at all." I added that it wasn't for lack of trying, and she said "Well, just keep at it, it will happen!" and then Bryce said, "Well, we've been at it pretty hard core for two years, so the last thing we feel is lucky." She said, "Well, at least you can save your money for when you do have kids!" (can't really blame the lady for trying to find something positive), but then Bryce quickly said, "Yeah, that would be nice, except all our money goes into trying to HAVE the kids. We're in medical treatment for everything." I did temper things with "I guess we are a little lucky, we can sleep in and enjoy our time to ourselves for now" (but it does feel like a crappy consolation prize). That poor, poor waitress. She totally got more than she was planning on with that conversation. She felt really bad, but for once Bryce told me after, "I really didn't mind it if she got uncomfortable. You shouldn't ask a question if you don't want an honest answer--if you're going to tell a childless couple that they're 'lucky,' then you should be prepared for the response if that's the last thing we feel. She asked the question, I just answered it." I LOVE THIS MAN.
Because that's the thing--we do appreciate the freedoms that we have since we don't have kids yet. The nice bottle of wine, the nights out at Maria's, sort-of-sleeping in (instead of kids crying or begging for breakfast or saying "Mommy-up!" we have a dog who walks around and digs his nails into the floor around the bed until you take him out, a cat who is banished to downstairs with a baby gate because he cries and whines at 7 on the dot or when the toilet flushes (whichever comes first), and another cat who occasionally sleeps in the bedroom but will lick your face until you wake up if he's hungry...so we really don't totally get out of the morning scenario. Although you can ignore animals to a point whereas you can't really ignore your child...). But our later mornings are in no way better than what we want more than anything. I would welcome needing a bigger car or having to haul baby crap with me everywhere I go or having someone puke on my feet in the middle of the night if it meant we finally had the family we dream of. We don't feel like we are lucky, not at all. Lucky is not failed procedure after failed procedure, complications out the wazoo, and finally getting pregnant only to have it end in surgery due to an embryo with a crappy sense of direction. Lucky is not spending tens of thousands of dollars and feeling trapped in the sense that we have no idea, none at all, when this will end and how much we will need to put into it in every possible way. Lucky is not feeling totally exhausted at the thought of injecting myself again and feeling terrified of what our results will be on our next go-round--if it's negative I will be sad, but if it's positive I will be so nervous that something will go wrong until I can hit a "safe" point. And I really don't know when that is anymore. Lucky is not technically having extra time, but spending it all in a doctor's office or acupuncture appointments, or doing 8 billion little things to "relax" and "prepare your body." It's not waiting by the phone to see if your dreams will finally come true or if, again, you are decidedly unlucky. Yup, we definitely do NOT feel free or lucky right now.
So, while I feel a little badly that our waitress last night got an earful, I think she will think twice before flippantly saying "You're so lucky!" to another couple if they don't have kids. Maybe she will just say "Ok" and move on to some other small talk topic. Maybe by being the weird people who were firm and detailed but polite about how unlucky we are, we have saved some other infertile couple the same situation.