Manuela has an interesting post today about being out of the IF closet, and why she chose that position. I, for one, appreciate all the people in my life who are "out" about their issues. Probably about half the mothers I know are or have been in some kind of fertility treatment. Some have had only a few procedures, some travelled that road for a long time before succeeding. Some are still on it, finding the second child much harder to come by than the first. Reading IF blogs has given me an idea of what to say, and what not to say. The people I know in real life put faces and families to the people I read about online. Together, these things have deepended my understanding of the IF experience immesurably. I am grateful for that.
Even experiencing firsthand the benefits of other people being "out" about difficult issues, I find it hard to be "out" about being a birthmother. I've told maybe half the people I know of my odd status, and I have no idea how many people actually know because I can't account for gossip. There are only a few people who I can talk openly with about being a birthmother. Most of them also read my blog.
Before having Naomi and while I was pregnant with her, I dealt with the issue of Telling simply by not talking to anyone at all who didn't already know. A second pregnancy is much different than a first, both in the experience itself and your enthusiasm and interest in everything going on with your body. I couldn't fake the mindset of a first pregnancy. I couldn't talk about pregnancy without referring to the first one. For example, I couldn't commiserate with another pregnant woman about morning sickness (which was brutal in my first pregnancy but nonexistent in my second) without either lying (and combining both prengnacies into one) or admitting that I'd been pregnant before and what became of that child. I had to be very careful about what I said, because I could easily blurt something that couldn't easily be explained away. So not talking to anyone seemed like the best course of action.
The only exception to this was during labor, when I wasn't a prima gravida. I had to tell people over and over that no, the four year old was not excited to be getting a new baby sister or brother, as she did not live with us blah blah blah. There was no easy way around this, since there were new nurses and residents in and out of my room all the time. This time, there will be huge red letters on my chart explaining the status of my first child and PLEASE DON'T MAKE ME TALK ABOUT ADOPTION DURING LABOR!
When I had Naomi, not talking to anyone was suddenly not an option anymore. As I began my forays into the social mommy world, the specter of Telling hung enormously above me every time I met someone new. When to tell, and how? In what context? I waited for relationships to deepen to the point of comfort, knowing they would never deepen that far if I never came clean. Especially at that time in my life, the adoption part of everything I did and every choice I made. I thought about E. all the time when Naomi was a baby. I was healing, processing, and in wonderment over how motherhood wasn't what I thought it was when I was placing E.
A few awkward Tellings later, I started to keep things to myself more. I found that I could skirt the issue much easier than I thought I could, and unless I felt a particular trust in someone, I simply kept that huge chunk of information to myself. I found it was more information than most people could handle gracefully. It was like blurting about molestation or abuse. Way too much of an overshare.
Now, I'm less concerned about making new friends, so the stakes are lower. At the same time, the adoption isn't so central in my life like it was when Naomi was small, so E. doesn't pop into my head in the course of a normal converstation as much. This makes it easy for me to slip into the facade of normalcy, like I'm just another mother.
I am beginning to wonder whether I now have the strength and perspective to start to be a little more "out" about the whole thing. I like the idea of shattering stereotypes and banishing misinformation, and I wonder if it's time for me to step up to the plate and do my part in real life.