The expression on her face fully expressed Orode’s disgust, as she told me about a former TTC mom, who is now pregnant. And with what she had said to her, she was now definitely a turncoat. This former TTC mom was now “one of them”; the fertile chicks rubbing it in every other person’s face.
“She told me, ‘Relax, it will happen.’ I blanked out the rest of what she had to say. I thought she would understand, afterall, we had once been in this same boat together. She had experienced a loss at 7 months of pregnancy, she had suffered another miscarriage and was unable to conceive after that, before this miracle pregnancy happened out of the blues, and yet she was telling me to relax?!”
Orode was talking in hushed tones, as we were in a public place but her whole being vibrated with the depth of her hurt. I think it hurt more that those words had come from a former TTC friend. I strongly suspect that if it had been just random advice from an acquaintance, she wouldn’t have taken it to heart like that. It hurt more, because it had come from a person who should know better.
I understood her hurt perfectly, I have not been in her shoes, but I have listened to several TTC moms get irritated by these two words, Just. Relax. I have been educated on the need to be extra sensitive when dealing with TTC moms, as that can make or mar a relationship. I have failed at times and told a mom or two to relax, but heck, what do I know about their journey?
For Orode, being told to relax is pure evil! One, she didn’t have age on her side AT ALL and secondly, she could be termed an IVF veteran as, so far, she’d had 7 cycles, discounting the numerous other IUIs and injectibles, not to mention Clomid, she had taken over the years. So, you see, those words made her sound as though she was being desperate and over-ready to try anything and everything.
Now, the question she directed at me was, “Do you think I should relax and perhaps, my own miracle pregnancy, like my “friend’s (she actually air quoted that) will come?”
She added, “I have done everything right so far, I have tried more than has been suggested, from orthodox medicine to alternative. My husband and I have been prodded, scanned and submitted ourselves to all sorts of examinations, so much that now, he has told me he’s done with them. So, with that one added to my issues, you think I should relax abi?”
Hmmm, being put on the spot was not good at all, but she had me in her sight, there was no escape. So, I worked my way through the issue, starting with her husband’s refusal to try anymore, which I feel is a bigger deal than what her “friend” had said.
We came to a conclusion and next line of action. However, she wasn’t budging on staying friends with “Madam Just Relax.”
Another woman whose journey to babyland started quite late in life was Alero. It wasn’t planned, but it just so happened that Mr Right didn’t show up on time. In fact, as she jokingly put it, she found one man and influenced him to the right part and then married him. She will tell her love story someday, but for now, it’s her TTC tales that prevail.
With such a late start, she was met with crushing news at the first fertility doctor she went to. The doctor told her that her chances of conception were quite low, even if she went assisted; all these without even having conducted a single test on her.
Without much ado, Alero packed her bags and went in search of another doctor, and I don’t blame her. If her doctor doesn’t believe that she can conceive, then how much will be put into her treatment to ensure it works? The answer to that is pretty obvious.
The second doctor she met made no promises nor gave timelines for achieving a pregnancy, but he surely believed that Alero could get pregnant and have her own babies. That was where she tabernacled, and even though she knew she was taking actions, it rankled every single time someone told her she should relax. She felt like letting off on the person, about the numerous blood tests she had to do, the constant scans and the days that just kept running away from her.
Alero was acutely aware of the passage of time and the effects on her fertility, even though her doctor assured her it was not impossible for her to get pregnant.
She’s still with her doctor, she’s still trying, but no one close to her dares advise her to relax. She has given them the sharp edge of her tongue one too many times, and told them more than they want to hear about her TTC journey, that they now advise others who don’t know, not to bother her about anything TTC related and especially to forget about telling her to relax.
Which I think is a wise move on their part, but Alero must have been really vocal, for them to now do the honours of telling others to stay off TTC matters on her behalf.
Even though there are so many scientific studies linking stress with fertility, I often wonder how other women, who go through the same or even worse stress, get pregnant just like that and another woman would find it difficult. Obviously, there is more than just stress at stake here.
And I found the something that was more than just stress that, perhaps, my subconscious had been looking for. I found a piece which traced the ‘just relax’ saying to centuries ago, and how scientists, and our patriarchal society, had connived to limit women through theories that claim any form of exertion on the part of women, including mental, working outside the home, politics, getting an education, etc., affected her fertility.
Even though the society has changed, unfortunately this mindset has been perpetuated through the centuries by health workers and our still very much patriarchal society, hence the “Just relax and it will happen” platitudes till date.
Finally, relaxing is, both literally and figuratively, a luxury that many women can’t afford. And even though it might be true in some cases… that doesn’t make it less annoying.
For all our sakes, can we just delete it from our vocabulary already?
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