Last week Spork and I watched Dumbo for the first time. She was sick and it was free on Netflix. It was only the second movie we have ever watched together because we almost religiously followed the “no screens before two” rule from the Academic Pediatric Association. She enjoyed the first 30 minutes and then was bored, but I was entranced until the very end.
Watching it through the lens of someone with infertility was a different experience. Never in my past would I have given a second thought to the stork scene at the beginning, but seeing it now was heartbreaking for me. Watching Mrs. Jumbo’s face as every other animal in the circus received their bundles of joy while she continued to wait longingly touched me deeply. I have never before felt so much in common with an animated character. Well at least not since Up was released.
Of course Mrs. Jumbo does eventually receive her sweet little floppy eared Dumbo. Though they face many obstacles, the forlorn Mom and cast-out baby eventually triumph and fly off into circus history to live happily ever after. Never in the movie does a Mr. Jumbo appear. Never in the movie is there the slightest hint that having a baby usually takes two animals. Never in the movie is it acknowledged that to make a baby those two animals need to have (gasp!) S.E.X.
To be fair, this cartoon was created in 1941. The stork intro was probably the only option for the producers at the time to communicate how much Mrs. Jumbo wanted her misfit baby boy. It makes total sense. There was no need to acknowledge to an audience of children how babies are actually made.
But this is not 1941 and the audience of this blog consists of consenting people who choose to read it and not children.
Mrs. Jumbo and I have one thing in common, neither of us needed to have sex to have our first child. The similarities end there. Her baby fell out of the sky. My baby took A LOT more work.
Today it was suggested to me by a trusted friend that the content of this blog might not be totally appropriate for someone like me (we will leave it at that… I do have a day job). My concern, however, goes beyond my job. I have noticed a handful of people that have acted, well, a bit different around me since we went public. I assumed it was because most people just don’t know what to say about something like infertility. Its ok. I understand. You don’t have to say anything. I am still the same person I was before you knew about all this.
My conversation today made me realize it might not be that at all, it might be that there are just some people who have a hard time dealing with these “private” matters for a variety of reasons.
Writing about this process publicly has been one of the single most liberating things I have ever done. It has begun to heal me in ways I didn’t think possible. I no longer feel broken. I no longer feel hidden. I cherish the love and support of those around me that just a few short weeks of blogging is providing me. Above all, I hope it has or will help others have a little laugh, a little cry, and maybe learn a little something about a process I know a little bit about.
The vast majority of my friends, family, and slowly growing number of followers have been exceptionally supportive. That is why hearing that feedback from my friend today really shocked me. Thinking about it now, I don’t know why it should have. These are tough issues to deal with. Sometimes even people who are dealing with them don’t want to deal with them and certainly not publicly. We kept our battle against infertility private for many years. I respect that desire.
But the fact is that 8 to 15% of couples experience infertility. As many as one in four women who get pregnant will have a miscarriage. And as far as sex? I think the percentage of people involved in that activity is even higher. But that’s just a guess.
I certainly do not plan to share any lurid details about my life in the bedroom, that would be entirely inappropriate for someone like me. But I will proudly continue to share my struggles with infertility. After all it is my right. But that is not why I am continuing. I hope speaking out about something that is taboo and shouldn’t be for a million reasons only strengthens the respect and love from people in my life. I hope it makes you proud to see someone like me tackle such an important issue that affects so many people.
That being said, its okay if it doesn’t. I can deal. No worries. I do recognize that my perspective on these topics may have been skewed slightly after spending four years in stirrups in front of at least a couple dozen strangers. Thousands of scopes, blood tests and ultrasounds may have eroded my modesty a bit. My filter is no longer as strong as it used to be and I can’t change that. Infertility is part of who I am and shapes how I see the world and behave in it.
So if it is too much for you, I have one piece of advice.
Don’t read it.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter and don’t want to see the links to the blog…
Don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
Before you make that decision, just remember that you may just be the one who needs to read it the most. It may help you understand what your sister, daughter, employee, or friend may be experiencing. It may help you talk to her. To give her support. To show her you care without having to feel uncomfortable. I will help you feel comfortable. I will show you that infertility is not dirty. It doesn’t have to be taboo. It can affect anyone.
Even someone like me.
4 thoughts on “Not Mrs. Jumbo”
Bravo, girl! We live in a world of faux relationships based on small talk. People don’t like to talk about difficult things. It makes them uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable is not acceptable in our society. As soon as things get real, they freak and bail. Modesty is just another word for not being who you really are. You get on with your strong self!
Alisa, fantastic writing, both literary style and from the art – lots of love and pride in you, Bill, and Ev, Love, Kay, Mumsie to “spork”
Art is “heart” – but maybe typo has some meaning., Kay
Thank you so much Mumsie. That means so much coming from you.