In late ’80’s/early ’90’s there was a rampant fad phase where in almost any store you could find posters, folders, t-shirts, and other random sundries printed with what at first glance was just a mish-mash of marbled, psychadelic colors, but if you stared at it cross-eyed long enough just so, you would be rewarded with a 3-D image of a giant shark or a bowl of jellybeans or some other random item. I can remember crowding around folders and posters with my friends and hearing them exclaim excitedly, "YO! I see the poodle!" Mildly annoyed, no matter which way I twisted my head and scrambled my eyeballs, I never saw what they were seeing, and was half-convinced that they were all suffering from some sort of mass delusional psychosis that I was just too genius to fall for (not really, but close).
Lady Bits from An IVF Story recently posted that while on her daily walk to work, she took a moment to browse through the window of a t-shirt print shop to read some of the slogans on the displayed examples of their work. She read a few t-shirts that gave her a good chuckle: "I would never actually wear one of these t-shirts, but, much to my surprise, some of them made me laugh." Then she felt a major cringe factor when she read a shirt that said, "You can’t scare me – I’m a parent." This statement to me is like the equivalent of being able to see one of those hidden pictures. With the Infertile Eye I see (and also feel) the cringe factor; with the Mom-after-Infertility-Eye, that’s a kick-ass and somewhat powerful statement.
Infertility, even to the comparatively minor "Subfertile Myrtle" degree that I’ve experienced it, toughens a person. Yes, infertility is exhausting and can leave you feeling frightened, defeated, broken, and weak. But it hardens the sufferer to those other things that normal people often feel crushed beneath:
A Fertile: OhmyGAWSH! The taxes just went up on our house and now our mortgage just went up a whole $50! What a tragedy! I could have used that money towards redoing Junior’s bedroom, but alas! Boohoo. Woe is me. Agony.
An Infertile: Get off it, lady. I just took out a flippin’ second mortgage on my house just to try to fill my empty bedrooms so take your whining and boohooing someplace else.
A Fertile: Hubby will be away on business during my most fertile time in September so that totally RUINS the May delivery I hoped for so that I could fit my bridesmaid’s gown for my sister’s wedding in July! And I really wanted to have a May due date because then I’d have my baby showers in April and it would have been just PERFECT – April "showers" bring May flowers, and all that.
An Infertile: Bitch, please.
In reference to the cringeworthiness of the shirt, Lady Bits said:
I had to go over this several times. I just didn’t get it. I am still not sure I get it. What is it supposed to mean? The implication is that once you survive the full horrors of having children, you become invincible. Is that supposed to be funny? An amusing father’s day gift? I can only suppose that it’s intended for the kind of person who, when you reveal to them that you’re infertile, gaily suggests that you take one of their kids because they’re sick to death of them. Am I missing something here?
Through the Infertile Eye, I suspect that yes, this is the type of shirt that some jack ass would find amusing for the very reasons that makes her find this saying distasteful. It’s like a filet knife – in the hands of a chef you wouldn’t bat an eye but in the hands of say, Jack the Ripper, well, that’s just wrong. This shirt in the hands of someone who would dare to say what Lady Bits describes makes it very offensive, indeed. But when I tilt my head and cross my eyes, I can also see this as something else.
Trying to get pregnant (or trying to parent for those waiting to adopt) and dealing with the infertility is hard, but parenting is also hard, albeit on a different plane. Parenting after infertility is on a completely different level than typical parenting. You’re miles happier than before, and for the most part, the world rights itself again and you can pour all of the waiting love you felt through the struggle into the child/children you went though hell and back to get.
Then you begin to realize that you have something to fear all over again, and even just the thought of it encompasses you so much to the point that you can’t breathe. Now, this baby isn’t just a dream anymore. It’s not just a spirit that you cradled in your heart. It’s here now, in the flesh, and oh, what delicate flesh it is. The moment that child comes into your arms, you realize that your heart has left your body and is now vulnerable to the world and all its ills. You’ve traded in one extreme fear for another, knowing all the while how lucky you are that you even have such a thing to fear. I know that most mothers who were able to build their families easily have this fear, but I also know that it is different for those of us who had to fight for it. You always hold on tighter to things you almost weren’t able to have. I also know it’s the fear that anyone still struggling is aching to have.
It’s this fear that feeds the lioness protection a mother has for her children. It’s this fear that makes a mother able to distinguish the difference between hungry cry and a hurt cry and when it’s the latter, makes a mother go from 0 to 50 miles per hour in two seconds flat. It’s this fear that makes a mother survey every adult face in the grocery aisle, so that just in case the unthinkable happens and her child goes missing, she can say, "That 6’2"-ish freak by the fabric softener with the buzz-cut, green eyes, stud in the left ear, and snake tattoo did seem a little off…."
It’s this fear that makes you say, "You can’t scare me – I’m a parent" to some assclown who is really pissing you off with rudeness, intimidation, or whatever bitchassness poor personality traits one has that might prompt you to say such a thing to him or her. Through the Parent-after-Infertility-Eye, I see something that says I have better, more worthy things to be concerned about, so you can take your shit to someone else who gives a damn and if you don’t like it, you can kiss my ass. Really. I’ve survived worse than you.
I still can’t see jack diddly squat in those damned 3-D pictures. For those of you still twisting this way and that through infertility to see your world through different eyes, I hope and pray that the other image will become clear for you and you will be blessed with your children, no matter how they make their ways to you.
***For the record, in the picture above there is supposed to be a 3-D image of Saturn. Do you see the motherflippin’ picture or not? Please tell me I’m not the only one who doesn’t see the damned thing. Even this freakin’ tutorial didn’t help. I’m still going with my mass delusional psychosis vs. Moxie the Genius theory.