Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ponderables

I read a book recently that dealt with some issues that made me think quite a bit. In the story, a young woman is trying very had to get pregnant, and is not succeeding. She and her husband have gone through several rounds of fertility drugs and IUI, but still no baby. One night, her husband gets a phone call that his high school/early college girlfriend has died, leaving behind a ten year old son whom he never even knew about. The child is in the care of Child Services, and there's all kinds of testing to be done to make sure that child is his, and then easing himself into the boy's life slowly.

First off, the infertility. I was blessed to become pregnant with Offspring very quickly. We had decided that we wanted a child, and I had discontinued any kind of contraception in hopes that we'd become pregnant within a short time span. I was actually surprised when barely three months after starting, I discovered that I was 5 weeks pregnant. (Killer heartburn was the tipoff. A friend who'd recently delivered urged me to do a home pregnancy test based on HER heartburn during her pregnancy. Turns out that she was right.) I know how lucky I was to get pregnant, right off the bat. I, thank God, did not have to endure all kinds of probings and testings and medical indignities in order to have my baby. I feel a lot of empathy for those who DO have to go this route. My best friend endured years of infertility treatments, and suffered several miscarriages in the process.

The woman in the story felt very inadequate because she felt that her body could not do what it was designed to do -- that women for centuries had been getting pregnant at the drop of a hat, and she couldn't. While I don't have that particular experience, I do often feel betrayed by my own body when I can't get it to do what I want it to do. So, I do feel a sort of empathy, though I obviously do not know the pain of infertility. I can also imagine a woman wanting so desperately to be pregnant that she has a deep, visceral longing for a baby every time she sees one in public. I remember feeling so envious of every pregnant woman I saw when I was contemplating quitting my birth control, so I can only imagine how torturous it would be for a woman who is unable to conceive.

I'm also very grateful that I was disgustingly healthy while pregnant. I lost weight, for the first time in my life; I ate better, and I got more rest and exercise; and I didn't even need to take the prenatal vitamins that the doctor prescribed.

As for the child, I have a hard time thinking that someone would not tell the other parent of the existence of a child. To just not tell someone that they have created a life? I know that there are lots of men out there who propagate with abandon, and who would have no intention of taking care of any child that they sired, but to just NOT tell someone at all? It's one thing if you don't make an effort to stay in contact with a deadbeat parent, or if they want nothing to do with the child at all to begin with, but to never notify them that you're pregnant? I have a hard time with this. Of course, I would like to think that I have ethics. Not all people are saddled with them.

Once the wife discovers the existence of the child, she withdraws both emotionally and physically from the husband. She puts her husband and his son on the back burner, as well as her hopes for a child of her own, and goes back to work. Once there, she meets a colleague that she becomes very attracted to, very quickly. She begins spending a lot of time with the man, and begins investing all of her pent-up emotions into this man, and very nearly has an affair with him before she comes to her senses.

So, infidelity. That's one of my personal cardinal rule-breakers. JF and I discussed this while we were dating, and we both felt that making vows was a forever thing. The vows we made were to cleave only unto each other, and we felt that if we could get up in front of God and promise that, we should bloody well keep that promise. Now, I try not to judge other people, and while I wouldn't condemn anyone who was unfaithful to their spouse or partner, it's not for me. Granted, I can understand how people can turn to other partners when they're married to an awful person -- I have a friend in this situation. I just would feel betrayed.

Sorry for the long, rambling post, but these were things that were on my mind today. What about you all? How do you feel about the three issues here: infertility, infidelity, and telling the other party involved when becoming pregnant?

6 comments:

anneglamore said...

Having lived through a childhood in which a parent had an affair, then did nothing to make amends, infidelity is a HUGE issue for me. I have a problem with the married person who has the affair and the (in our case) single person who is willing to date a married person (man in our family's case).

She will never know the hurt she caused our family. I don't think my father is capable of understanding. I posted about this much more obliquely on my site today.

KLee said...

Anne, I understand your sense of outrage and betrayal at the woman who you feel broke up your family. I understand that your father was in pain after the loss of your mother, but the haste with which he renewed his relationship with her was crass and tacky.

We have a situation similar to your in my extended family -- one partner cheated on another, and shortly after being caught cheating, dumped the original spouse and is now married to the "cheatee." It's very hard to socialize with them because it's always in the back of my mind, and it was a formative experience.

I also have another family member who took back a cheating spouse. I don't think that I'm big enough of a person to do that. I'd always be suspicious after that, you know?

I think your comments to Spitzer's daughters was on point. I think there will be a hard road ahead of them, and I hope that they can weather the storm. And, like you say, I hope that their father takes the high road, and doesn't wuss out on what he did, and actually takes responsibility for his own actions.

Gawdess said...

infidelity is a deal breaker for me too. it is about so much more than sexual intimacy, it is about betrayal of trust and utter immaturity and lack of basic kindness and in my opinion is deeply selfish.
You wanna mess around, go home and say so and break up and move out...then you can mess around.
infertility is something I am deeply grateful to not to have had to shoulder in this life.
and there should be no big secrets in families - not really - because then trust isn't real.
Interesting post and thought provoking.

ccw said...

Shit - my big, long comment was eaten.

The short version: I would not leave over an affair. Not b/c I was unfaithful in my first marriage, wanted to preserve the sanctity of marriage, or keep it together for the kids. I would not leave b/c I'll be damned if I'm going to split my life, money, belongings in half because Mr. MFBA couldn't keep his dick in his pants. Plus, I have a feeling that living with me after the fact would be more difficult than if I just left.

As for being pregnant and not telling, my mom did not tell my dad about me until I was about 3 and then it was b/c she was so emotional about me being sick in the hospital. I understand her reasons for not marrying him (he wanted to) but I have never quite understood why she didn't tell him b/c I don't think it would have changed anything. She would have still moved away, still not married him, etc.

Karyn said...

Infertility.... I had that. Inexplicable, unrelenting infertility, about four years worth. Then it went away as magically as it arrived and here I sit with two giant weiner kids wondering how hard God is laughing at me with his Ha Ha, I Tried To Tell You sense of humor.

Infidelity..... my husband was in love with another woman at least once in our marriage. To my knowledge it never went further than his obsession and emotional attachment to her but it was toxic and it left marks which I thought were repaired, things I thought I got past, but kind of couldn't. I think infidelity is sad but it wasn't the deal breaker for us; I was always willing to try again and again and again until I couldn't. I think it's mostly cowardly and , again, sad.

Telling someone you're pregnant... especially if you aren't "with" them. Hm. I've actually thought about this, not because it's been my situation, but just the "in theory" thing... I think I'd have to tell. That's just me and it seems like the right thing to do.

Good questions, girlfriend.

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