January 7, 2011

A little kindness and compassion

...can go a long way.

Photo by Sarah Murray via Flickr.
I sometimes straddle a difficult line with blogging and being public about my identity. Sometimes there are things I am dying to write about here, but I know that even with strategic re-naming of the parties involved, people will recognize themselves and that someone will eventually be hurt by what I write. I practice a high degree of self-censorship in that regard.

But sometimes, when people go out of their way to be so kind and pleasant to you, well, I can't help but write about it. If anything to prove that even though infertile folks have to deal with some of the most asinine but well-intentioned advice, we can also be the recipients of some of the most humbling compassion.

Right before Christmas, my niece began crawling. My sister was so excited and proud of her wee little one- as well she should be! - and wanted to share the good news. On the way home from work, she called me and we were catching up a bit. We would be seeing each other on Christmas Day, so it was more of a "Hi how are ya" conversation. And then my sister got quiet for a minute.

"Everything okay?" I asked.

"Yeah, can I ask you a really stupid, silly question?" she said after a minute.

"Sure. I'll have a stupid, silly answer for you," I teased.

She paused. "How do I know if it's okay to talk about Willow?"

The car was quiet for a minute, the only sound the soft murmur of the highway under my wheels. I thought for a moment. "I suppose you could just ask me, I won't be offended."

My sister went on, "Well it's just that I know you've been in a funk lately and I don't want to babble on about her if you don't want to hear about it. I just don't want to make you upset."

I smiled, deeply touched. "Seriously, you can just ask me. I'll let you know if I don't want to - I'll be honest if it's one of those days."

"Should we have a code word or something?" After a few minutes of debate, we decided that we would refer to Willow in the form of potato products, since her in utero nickname was Spud.

"So... how do you feel about french fries today?" my sister asked.

"Why, they sound delicious! Tell me more," I smiled.

. . .

Not too long after that conversation I was talking with a dear friend, Nicole, online. (PS, totally random shoutout - she is one stellar photographer. Check out her stuff - for seriouses.) Larry and I were heading down to their house for New Year's weekend as part of a very coordinated surprise 30th birthday party for a mutual friend. There were folks coming from all over the country to celebrate our friend's birthday, and sleeping space was at a premium, especially beds. Thankfully we RSVP'd early enough to guarantee a bed of some sort (futon, air mattress, or otherwise) and Nicole was in the lovely position of playing human Tetris trying to figure out where everyone would be sleeping at her house.

Nicole, I should add, is 7½ months pregnant with her second boy. There would also be a recently announced pregnant couple there, as well as another couple with a toddler. We were catching up online when she asked if Larry and I would mind sleeping in the baby's room so the birthday boy (the couple with the toddler) could sleep downstairs in the basement with all of his friends from high school that were coming.

At first I wasn't sure, so I bought myself some time to think about by saying that I'd bring it up with Larry that evening and get back to her. Nicole was very honest, explaining that the baby's room was decorated, painted, and the crib was up, but there was plenty of room for an air mattress on the floor. Given the number of people coming, she had to get creative with the sleeping arrangements.

I thanked her for being so considerate enough to even ask in the first place; it's not that I wouldn't have expected her to ever be so kind, but it was a nice reminder of just how awesome a friend she is to Larry and me. That night I did bring it up with Larry and he said he didn't mind if I didn't. I told him I was on the fence; I was already worried at the potentially baby-centric weekend it could potentially be.

The next morning, a chat window from Nicole popped up. "Problem solved," it said. She had talked it over with our friends coming with the toddler and put them up in the baby's room instead. Larry and I got very lucky and got the quietest, darkest room in the house (our favorite place to sleep when we stay over there). New Year's weekend was a blast, and my "I'm the infertile surrounded by parents and pregnant ladies" fear was overblown. The baby talk was barely non-existent and I had a wonderful time, despite picking up one of the many colds that everyone brought with them.

. .

It's these little moments of compassion that can really go a long way, and that leave me humbled and thankful for the love and support we get. It's nice to feel like sometimes, we're not just floating out on this lonely island throwing bottles of rolled up wishes into the sea: that our friends and family hop into a little canoe, knowing they're headed to an uncomfortable destination but willing to take the ride all the same just to show their support in some way.

What moments of compassion have touched you in your journeys?


Baby bump bound said...

Love this post! hope you are doing well and happy new year!

DaisyGal said...

I loved this post too...because even when you get to the other side of infertility, you still want to be aware of the people still on the side you were on..and when people who have never been there, go out of their way to be conscious of your life and your sensitivies..it really is a life changing moment. One of gratitude for the simple question..."is this ok?"

HAPPY NEW YEAR K, may 2011 bring you lots of good things. :)

Rebecca said...

Spud...how cute! I love your sister for being so caring!

That's really awesome that you have such considerate friends. I don't have that in real life. Very few, if any, people give a rat's tookus about how their verbal diarrhea will affect me. The ones that do are very few and far between (as in...there's maybe ONE that gives a hoot) so your friends and family rock for being sensitive!

Melissa G said...

Lovely post. I can't think of a specific moment for myself, but these two stories sure put a smile on my face.

R. said...

I'm so glad your sister is so considerate of your feelings. It sounds like you two are really close. O-M-G, I would NEVER have been able to stay in that room, so glad you dodged that bullet.

R. said...

I'm so glad your sister is so considerate of your feelings. It sounds like you two are really close. O-M-G, I would NEVER have been able to stay in that room, so glad you dodged that bullet.

Kristin said...

You have fabulous friends and family members but, that's not a big surprise considering how awesome you are.

Anonymous said...

You are very fortunate that you have people around you that try to make it easier on you. Perhaps to take the time to understand how you might be feeling even though they will never understand. So many people think we should always be "the better person" and just be happy for everyone that is expecting. I was warmed by your sister and your friend conscientiousness.