Today is my day off this week. I planned on working on special project for most of the day (details still forthcoming in a future post), but first I had to head over to my parents’ house to pick up more stuff for said project.
I forget what it’s like to be out driving around 10:30-ish on a week day. Mostly because 10-hour work days are spent indoors working furiously at my desk. So yes, I forget about the old folk out driving about 20-zillion miles below the speed limit. Or the multitude of service cars and trucks that zoom around you as if there was no one else on the road.
Or in my case today, watching at least three different groups of women walking around pushing baby strollers.
Okay, so not all of them were pushing strollers. Some of them were holding their pre-preschool kids’ hands as they walked. And others, well … they were pregnant. It was that image of pushing the baby stroller and/or being pregnant that reminded me of what I don’t have. Or rather … not necessarily what I don’t have, more than what I haven’t been able to experience.
In this case, it’s not about being pregnant or having a child. It’s more about the ability to form friendships with other women who are at the same stage of life that you are. A tribe of women, as a good friend once mentioned in her blog, that I can bond with and share.
I’ve always said that not having a sister to grow up with has limited me in my ability to form female bonds. There’s something to be said about having another female (about the same age) around to learn how to act and react to different social situations. Whether a woman is close to her sister or not, this relationship still teaches that woman about the female mind in ways that another “sister-less” woman cannot experience or understand.
I tend to think that this is one of my biggest flaws within my personality. This social ineptness, when it comes to forming relationships with other women. Up until Hubby & I started trying to start our family (and failing miserably), I would say that I had a fair amount of female friends. Ones that I would call up and make plans to go shopping or out to eat just so we can hang. Being in a profession dominated by women also helped form these friendships. But the longer Hubby & I went without having children, the more isolated we became. And that’s because these female friends went on to start their families and began to relate more with other women and couples that also had children. More and more, I began to have less in common with these friends.
Oh, I know not to place all the blame (if any blame at all) on these friends, who are now more like acquaintances. I know that friendship goes both ways. And I know that there are the times that I just didn’t make the effort to continue the friendship. But I also know that there are the times that I just couldn’t be the friend that they needed … my own pain, in my opinion, would have caused more of a rift in that friendship.
There’s another part of me that I believe has limited my ability to form long and lasting female friendships. And that is being a first-generation Asian/Filipino-American. (And for clarity’s sake, this means that my brother and I were born here in the US, while my parents were both born in the Philippines.) Growing up in my household always meant you had one foot in the traditional Asian mindset, while your other foot was learning to survive in the American culture and way of life. The traditional Filipino way meant that family and God (followed closely by education) always came first and anything else, such as friendships and after-school activities came in a distant last. And although the “American” part of me always wanted to make tons of friends and be involved in lots of activities, the “Asian” part of me held back considerably. Mainly because when I looked outward at myself and my family … I always knew that I was “different.”
So how about forming friendships with other first generation Asian- or Filipino-American women? Believe me, I do have those few friendships. And quite honestly, they’re probably the ones that have lasted the longest. I strongly believe that this is the case, mainly because we’ve stepped outside of our “Filipino-American” selves and truly know one another, outside of our personal issues (read: Emily’s infertility). That is simply because we’ve known each other for years. And we’ve bonded. And if they’re not family, then they are certainly the closest thing I have to family (without, of course, all the dysfunction).
The rest of the Asian/Filipino-Americans … definitely different story. Especially as it relates to infertility. Loribeth recently shared an article from Newsweek on her blog. While this article’s primary subject is about infertility and the lack of treatment in developing countries , there is a small focus about the ostracism of infertile women in these countries. Here’s a little taste of it:
The stigma that infertile women face can infiltrate every aspect of life. They may not even be invited to weddings or other important gatherings. “People see them as having a ‘bad eye’ that could make you infertile, too,” says Inhorn. “Infertile women are considered inauspicious.”
Other people simply “don’t want to have them around at joyous occasions,” says Frank van Balen, coauthor (with Inhorn) of “Infertility Around the Globe” and a professor in the department of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Amsterdam. Their reasoning: “they could spoil it,” he says.
The thing is … this article doesn’t just pertain to these women living in that particular country. This article reflects just about everything that I’ve, as an infertile, encountered here. In the US. Amongst family and friends. Within my culture.
That article basically summed up the reason why I started this blog in the first place. Because what I write here is everything I feel about myself and everything I could never say out loud.
This blog was meant to help me work my way through my infertility issues. It was a way for those family members and friends who would always ask us why we still didn’t have children know why without me or Hubby having to spill all the details out loud in which I would inevitably cry. It was a way for me to feel comfortable telling my story, without having the other person feel uncomfortable.
But apparently even by just writing these things, I still make certain people very uncomfortable and therefore ostracizing myself even moreso amongst my family and Filipino/Asian friends. Certain actions have made it quite evident over these past few weeks. Certain things have forced me to evaluate exactly whom I want to be closest to me at my most difficult times.
It’s because of those actions, I have debated about taking down this blog. Or making it strictly password-protected for those who would be genuinely interested in following my rants.
But then I thought … how many other Asian-American / Filipino-American women or couples are out there that are going through similar things that I’ve experienced? How many are out there longing for some sort of bond with others going through something just as painful? How many more of us are out there that feel ostracized and alone?
I know what it was like to meet all of my infertility friends through blogging. And even though we might not share the same cultural considerations … I do know that they are going through the same (or similar) hurt and anger and pain that I’ve gone through while traveling on my IF journey.
And it’s because of you girls I’ve felt less lonely … less ostracized. I’ve felt as if I could go out to meet you for a “virtual walk” at around, oh … let’s say 9 pm … (when most of us are known to read/blog the most) and bond.
So I decided to keep my blog “password-free” (except maybe for the occasional post). My hope is that this blog is still a way to communicate with those people who want to continue with me along my IF journey. But it is also my hope that it be available for those Asian- and Filipino-Americans (as well as those that are not … Asian, that is) traveling down the infertility road alone and looking for some company.