Working for the Utilities sector and having a lot more knowledge about traffic management than I’d like to possess, I can say with some confidence that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Satanic Landscapes (a subsidiary of Lucifer Holdings) have had the contract since time immemorial, and they’re constantly in demand.
My last post on here about our trials and tribulations of fertility treatment went down very well, with a few remarking on how nice it was to read about these issues from a male perspective. Now the intended audience for this post is somewhat different -rather than aimed at those going through the same troubles we had, it’s aimed at those around them – the circle of well-meaning relatives, colleagues and friends.
First off, let me start by saying it out loud – we know you mean well. This is by no means intended as a slight, or a criticism, or a dig.
Cards on the table; people constantly refer to the miracle of birth, but it is not a miracle. It happens approximately 385,000 times a day. Even ignoring the theistic aspect of it, a miracle is defined as an exceptional event and something that happens four and a half times every second is far from exceptional. Rest assured, if it was a miracle, we wouldn’t feel too bad about not being involved.
But, to the point.
We know you mean well. You’ve had a friend who – despite giving up any attempts at having a child – suddenly found themselves pregnant. We know you’ve got a work colleague who – despite this being their very last round of IVF from a dozen attempts – found themselves “with child”. You probably even know some awful people who’ve been allowed to adopt, and if they can do, anybody could. You might even know of someone who went private to sort out their fertility issues, and the place worked miracles, they really did.
We know you mean well. We know it’s difficult to know what to say to people going through the trauma of finding themselves incapable of performing societies most basic task – that of having and rearing children. You’re trying to help, we can see that. Tara and I have both probably done it ourselves years back to friends in a similar position. You’re not being malicious or thoughtless – you’re only trying to be thoughtful and nice.
But it doesn’t help. You’re the equivalent of Jim Bowen in Bullseye showing the couple from Droitwich the fancy car that evaded their grasp (not the next-to-useless speedboat – that doesn’t work for this metaphor).
“Here’s what you could have won.”
See also: the platitudes of "Everything happens for a reason". I've never subscribed to karma or fate, but if I have been hopelessly wrong about that, then the only reason I can think of is that fate thought we'd be shit parents. That doesn't help. And if you decide to bring God into it - and again my course through atheism was horribly, horribly misguided - me and Him are going to have serious words. So, what should you say? How do you broach the difficult subject? Just don't. You can't say anything we haven't said to each other, and we can take it as read that you feel bad about what we've been through - you'd have to be some kind of monster not to be. And the fact we know you probably removes you from the category of monsterdom. If however, like me, you hate awkward silences, bring up the Matrix sequels or the fact that Final Destination 3 makes no sense, and we'll be chatting for hours.
We tried, and we failed. We’d considered trying again, and have decided not to. This was far from a decision we came to lightly – it’s probably the most epochal decision we’ve ever made or will ever make. Your stories of hope and triumph over adversity make it worse. Do you know the worst thing about our last failed attempt? The fact that the eggs fertilised. It’s the false hope that gets you.
Invent the time machine to put me in my thirties again, then we’ll talk.