The Luxury of Cluelessness

Today’s Google Reader delivered to me the New York Times magazine article on women who have cancer and are pregnant while getting treatment.  It was fascinating, and of course, included the requisite discussion of whether fertility drugs cause cancer (the way I look at it, I’m going to die one way or another, but whether I have children is a much more open question, so why not bet on the one that is not a foregone conclusion?). 

They also interviewed a woman who just went through the wringer: two terrible miscarriages, a third pregnancy and a diagnosis of inflammatory breast cancer all in one year.  Not surprisingly, she was incredibly angry – I only had two miscarriages and I was fit to be tied.  And, in the middle of all of this, she encountered a situation that I bet is played out all over the country everyday:

Shopping in a children’s store, Silver overheard a pregnant woman tell a sales clerk, “I really want a girl, but I’d be O.K. with a boy,” and she said she felt herself boil over with rage. How could someone take so much for granted and complain about something so trivial?

How indeed. I call this the Luxury of Cluelessness.  It allows you to think about your preference of a boy or a girl, never mind that the birth of any child is nothing short of miraculous considering all of the possible outcomes.  It allows you to buy baby clothes when you first learn you’re pregnant, never mind that you might (in my case, would) miscarry.  For the record, should I ever get pregnant again and carry to term, I am not having a baby shower, decorating the nursery or buying any paraphernalia until after the birth.  Until that child is safely in my arms and breathing, I will probably not even look at cribs. Seriously.

I think in general, Americans have this sense of entitlement when it comes to things that are supposed to bring happiness.  We think we deserve to have uncomplicated pregnancies that let us complain that we’re having a boy and not a girl.  We think we deserve to be clueless that things can (and do) go wrong and things can (and will) go wrong for us. 

It is particularly frustrating when you have been on the short end of the entitlement stick and you see others taking for granted that which you so desperately desire.  I want to take these ladies by the shoulders and (gently) shake some sense into them.  But, for everyone of us who understands the gift, there are hundreds who are still Clueless.

I’m just glad that I am no longer one of the Clueless masses.

8 thoughts on “The Luxury of Cluelessness

  1. 18 months ago my BIL was suddenly paralyzed from the eyeballs down. His body could do NOTHING on its own — not even digest or breathe, let alone move.

    I was clueless before this about my own able-bodied-ness. I still am sometimes.

    Thanks for the reminder about what I am and am not entitled to.

  2. On one level, I do envy the clueless. It must be so much easier to get that BFP and then start decorating the nursery, rather than having to live with the constant terror that I may once again miscarry.

    But I’m not sure whether I would really want to swap places with them. As you so wisely said in your ‘glass half full’ post, infertility has taught me to value what I do have. It has made me a stronger, more compassionate woman – and I don’t think I would want to trade the insights it has brought for the kind of naive innocence that I now associate with those for whom pregnancy comes easily.

  3. A friend of mine is pregnant with her second (has tendency to conceive seventeen minutes after stopping contraception. Oh well), they found out it was another boy, her mother in law promptly started a whinge-fest about there being too many boys in the family already. When the friend told us about it (in a forum we both hang out it), I was very angry. I wrote something slightly heated about a healthy child being a miracle and that quibbling about gender was ungracious. Friend knew I had recently had a miscarriage. Friend did not reply.

    And now my friend too is complaining about being ‘out-numbered’ by boys.

    I simply do not know what to say to her.

  4. When I was expecting Bitsy I truly wanted a girl. We had BabyGirl & the boys & I wanted another girl. BabyGirl wanted a sister.

    Would I have been dissapointed if Bitsy had been a boy? Maybe, for about 15 minutes. Then I would have “gotten over it” and been thrilled that we were having another boy. Clueless & selfish? Probably.

    I know my kids are all blessings. That has never been taken for granted around here.

    I do have a question. What about the people who say, “We don’t care as long as it’s healthy?” Would they love the baby less if it had serious health issues? We had health scares with both of the boys. It terrified me to think they wouldn’t be “normal” but in the end, it did not matter one iota. They were ours & still blessings.

  5. Lately, I’ve seen a mother be reunited with a child she abandoned, a father amongst children he hardly knows, and I wonder if they have any clue at all as to how lucky they are. Resentful that biology can still be such a powerful magnet and the fact that I will never really have that. Letting go of this resentment, the unfairness of it all, is apparently my life’s work.

  6. I love your blog and have been helped by it and other online conversations about infertility. I’m glad you’re getting to a place where you can appreciate something (anything) about all of this. After almost two years and one miscarriage, I’m trying to get to that place, but I would still give almost anything to be clueless and a mother.

  7. Alas, that’s one luxury you never appreciate until you no longer have it. Sad.

    Losing that sense of entitlement can help ease the pain of not getting your heart’s desire (or getting something really shitty that resembles it temporarily, as you do with a m/c).

    I think real wisdom is being able to jump from the clueless place to compassion and awareness without having to go through the experience yourself. I have to say that IF has helped me with that, though I’m still not very wise.

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