I’ve always been sentimental. This has led to me be a bit of a hoarder. I don’t have rooms crammed with stuff, maybe just a closet or two. Among the things I’ve saved are dolls a friend of my mother’s got my sister and I in Belize when we were little, the “pound puppy” my grandma made me named Bruiser ( if you get that reference, we should meet in real life), and my first Teddy bear. I’ve carried these things around the world with me, you could say they are part of my physical baggage.
My recent art show had made me think a lot about my mental baggage and I guess some physical as well. I mean, I am carrying around parts that don’t work. Last Sunday, we had tour groups come through the gallery to hear about our work. The gallery is split in half, one side has my stuff and the other has formalist work. The tours usually started on that side of the gallery. They listened to the work was made and how design was the focus of the work.
Then they would end up with me. I would start out explaining a little about infertility and then go into my story. The faces of each group would slowly drop as I continued. Because IF has been my reality for the last three years, I am comfortable talking about it. Probably a little too comfortable. Jokes about needles and injections don’t go over as well as you’d think. When discussing it with someone who has not experienced it, I am very matter of fact. I can almost detach myself and just stick to my diagnosis, the daily routine of cycling and other technical information. Then I always get to end my story talking about my son. I am one of the lucky ones, this fact is never lost on me.
The work I made for the show has been very cathartic. It has helped me deal with my baggage. At my opening and during the tours, many women would come up to me and share their own stories. It was nice to hear from others who had gone down a similar road. I also heard many stories of a friend of a friend who was going to adopt or start IVF, and poof! Like magic, they were pregnant. They had just been able to relax. While I am SO HAPPY for anyone who finds themselves in this position, I know many of you can relate to the very bitter pill these sorts of stories are. And the word relax. God, I hate that word.
Talking to those women who have struggled with IF is a different story. While I can talk all day about this very personal subject with those unaffected, I immediately get a lump in my throat when I know I’m speaking with someone who understands the acronyms and what it means to give yourself daily shots, many times more than one a day. And that longing and that sadness. That ache. While there is an immediate and deep connection, it is a painful one.