There have been some tremendous responses from people who read yesterday’s post.
And if you haven’t read Esperanza’s post, trying to answer the questions I raised, please do.
Because I think she has really uncovered how so many of us feel as parents after going through infertility.
I lived in London for two and a half years. I was never truly an English person, even though I paid taxes there and used the NHS and ate crisps and wine gums and went to pubs and tried to pick up the slang. My skin had the marks of skin damage after living my whole life in California: native British people of all races have the most beautiful, luminous skin. On the other hand, I have pretty straight teeth after years of braces. That cliche is so true that a client once said he could suss out who the American was (he had never met me) by having my whole team smile. He pointed to me immediately and said: “Her!” But the obvious marker was, of course, my accent. And that I couldn’t decipher a lot of what people were saying. Especially Scots! Toughest accent to crack, ever.
I never quite bonded with any native Brits. They were just at a natural advantage in their homeland: they had lifelong friends already who knew habits, history, remembered the Falklands War and spoke in a shorthand version of English. I liked them and respected them (what they thought of me I’ll never know, you Brits are SOOO reserved!) but I wasn’t one of them. I couldn’t PASS.
So, I bonded with ex-pats. These were ex-pats from many countries: the US, Canada, Nigeria, India, Bulgaria and France. We had quadrants: we were probably most tight with our fellow Americans, and likewise for others of other nationalities. But we all loved to hang out together and we were essentially each others’ family. Because we knew. We knew we didn’t pass, that we never would, that there were differences between us and Brits. Differences we would never be able to overcome.
Likewise, when I had my twins, I thought I could safely make passage to ParentlLand. For two years, I tried like hell to “pass”, to fit into the culture of the other parents. But there were things that were different: these mothers had not struggled to get to ParentLand: they were natives who were born being able to plan their exact entry. They had very little fear, they didn’t have preemies who had to be fed every two hours, there were deliberate gaps between each of their children. They breastfed for years. Like my American accent, my twins marked me as different right away. Every parent in ParentLand asked if they were “infertility” babies. If I said yes, they would either quickly change the conversation or would ask questions that they did not enjoy hearing the answers to. And they would categorize me as “different”, not as easy to be around as other natives. And one naturally prefers to hang out with others who are familiar.
I felt like that ungainly American in the office of smooth Brit talkers and jokers again. I didn’t understand the patois, the stories of weaning, the talk of trying to prevent an “Oops!” baby, the complaints about how awful it was to be pregnant.
It wasn’t until my second miscarriage, when ParentLand finally rejected me fully, that I realized I needed to find some kind of other support.
Which is when I found Mel, then Lori, then local ex-pats Bodega and Esperanza. And now, all of you reading.
Darcy often worries about me: why didn’t having twins make me happy and shinny and, well, normal? I think the truth is, I got culture shock. I was back in London again, but this time without the amazing friends I had there to back me up and make me feel at home.
I took way too long to find “my people.”
But I am so happy I did.