Saturday, August 7, 2010

A little experiment

At my German conference, I decided to try a little experiment in openness about IF. There have been a number of conversations lately about how to be an advocate for IF when it's such a private issue and one that the general public seems pretty unsympathetic to or at least incapable of appreciating the seriousness of. (Take THAT, syntax! You are my BITCH!) I was thinking perhaps one place where I could help the cause was in discouraging people from asking about others' reproductive plans. This can be done by a combination of being an asshole and making people feel very uncomfortable, both things at which I excel. That is, when people ask about your plans, the nice thing to do is say something polite that pretends having a baby is just a question of deciding you want one. The assholeish awkwardness-creating thing to do (or AACTD, if you will) is to tell the truth. This will ideally make at least that one person think twice about asking next time. So I did a little AACTD. (That acronym is TOTALLY going to catch on. Eat it up, RESOLVE.) It happened fairly naturally because of the circumstances. The conference was attended by a lot of people who know me pretty well (my old grad school cohort and labmates), and many of them are or recently were pregnant. So of course they all asked me about my plans. In addition, for reasons that are mysterious to me, a lot of people seemed to think I was pregnant as well. Like, several people said, Didn't I hear good news about you? while starting at my stomach. In short, I had many opporunities for AACTD. When people asked me if we wanted kids or had plans to have kids, I said, We desperately want kids, but it's not just a question of wanting for some people. When they asked if I was pregnant, I said, Noooooooo, in a tear-choked voice that implied There's a world of pain here and aren't you sorry you brought it up?

I have to say, peoples, AACTD did the trick. People usually said, Oh, gosh, I'm sorry and backed off as though they'd just wandered up to a big pile of writhing vipers. I don't know that the people who got ACCTDed will be less likely to raise the issue with the next woman of reproductive age they encounter, but if the faintest whiff of the notion that infertility exists has entered their brains, I will have accomplished something. Sure, they may now think I'm extremely socially maladjusted, but that's the price you pay for advocacy.

So: Here's a call to arms. Join me in my asshole!

No, wait, that's not quite right...uh...never mind.


  1. Oooh, the first time I ACCTDed I felt like wearing a tiara and a sash. Because it was my motherfucking talent, pulled off with grace and beauty. I was asked, "So when are YOU guys going to to get around to having kids?" My answer? "We've been diagnosed with infertility and can't have kids. We're seeing a specialist to find out if we have any options left." BAM!

    Well done, Bunny.

  2. Ha! This is so funny, but yet so sad at the same time. I hate that people feel they have the right to ask such personal questions. I have a cousin who was dating her husband for 8 yrs before they got married. Everyone asked all the time when she was going to finally get married, as if this is thier business. If she wanted to talk about that with you, she would have. I hate that we do this do this to each other all the time about lots of things. People are totally insensitive.
    E once suggested that, if asked if I had children, I should reply by asking them if that like anal sex. He went on to say that if they were going to ask something that made me uncomfortable and was none of their business, I should do the same :) too bad i am too chicken to actually do that.
    I think the planet needs some sensitivity training.

  3. I love you Bunny, you rock!!! I've done some ACCTDing myself too and it's great (if you can pull off not crying in front of them...but hey I guess that only makes it worse on them ;).

    I was also told (like cgd said) to reply with something like...."no I like anal too much" when asked if we were going to have kids. =)

  4. I only hope that the history books recognize you for the pioneer you are, and that when our children (because we're all going to have children, dammit) rifle through their 7th-grade Reproductive History texts, there will be a two-page spread of you flipping the double bird to an unsuspecting inquisitor.

    That said...I'm pretty damn nosy myself.

  5. i hear ya, and i've done this a few times. better to make someone else feel like an ahole than have to put up with this shit.

    a friend recently had a baby and the birth coincided right around the time i started my stims for ivf. i didn't want to see her during stimming, bc i was super emotional and on edge, so last week i went to see her. i guess, considering that we live three blocks apart, she expected me to come over sooner. when i got to her apt, i immediately got berated "where the hell have you been? you didn't even come to my shower". i berated her right back and considering she just had a baby, i could've been nicer, but chose not to. now she's walking on edgeshells around me. but i prefer it that way. stop asking me stoopid shit!!

  6. I'm impressed, Bunny. You are so bad ass. And you have awesome grammar too, not to mention a penchant for acronyms.

  7. Join me in my assholery, maybe? Sure, that's a word :).

    That was awesome. I love the idea of making people uncomfortable by answering truthfully. If you don't want to hear the answer, don't ask the question. I don't think people realize what crazy, personal questions they ask because of those same PC, polite answers they always get.
    Back in February, a woman on a plane kept asking if I had kids, then finding out I didn't, said "well, you should wait - we waiting a good 5 or 6 years and it was the best decision ever". To which I replied that we desperately wanted to become parents, but we had been trying for that long with no success. Since she was trapped in the seat next to me for the rest of the flight, she couldn't run away...but to her credit she continued the conversation (after saying that she hoped we were able to have kids soon).
    I think it's good that people realize that infertility exists, and that asking those kinds of personal questions may lead to answers that make them uncomfortable. And if they don't like it...tough titties!

  8. I have decided if the insanely fertile early-20-something downstairs makes a comment about us having kids, I'm going to go BALLISTIC on her. (I've already had the eeeeentire AACTD convo in my head.) But yearh, 99% of the time, I just smile sweetly and say something wimpy like, "Oh, we do want kids but hubs is soooo busy with grad school right now." I'm a wimp, I admit it!

  9. On my behalf, and that of thousand of infertile women worldwide, I wish that thank you for starting the AACTD movement. I think helping people think twice about their most intrusive, seemingly innocuous questions about reproduction is a great service to us as a community, but also to them, in their ignorance. Let's think of it as educating them, which is indeed an important part of advocacy.

    Bunny, you rock the free world. I feel inspired about responding to my next questions about parenthood using the AACTD method. And might I add: it is just SO nice to have a framework to start from.

    Thank you!

  10. I wish I'd read this post before this morning's conversation with my grandma. Let me explain that my grandma is sort of a selfish bitch and I don't really like her, so I never call her and she never calls me, yet she complains to the rest of the family that I never call her. Not that she wants to hear from me, you understand. Just to complain.

    Anyways, my mom called her this morning and told her I was pregnant and then waved me over to the phone (like a beast to slaughter) to talk to her. 'Hi Grandma, how are you?'

    'Good honey, I just wanted to say congratulations on your good news-- I was wondering when you were going to start to produce, becuase you know, time is running out for you!'

    Gee, thanks Grandma. Where was my AACTD comment when I needed one????

    Or here's another one. My old lab mate had a kid a few months ago and when I called him to congratulate, he says, 'you guys are NEVER going to have kids, are you?'

    What's the AACTD response to that one???

    Basically, I'm too much of a wimp to be an asshole, unless I'm drunk... and then, only sometimes :)

  11. p.s. I almost forgot-- your comment on Thursday's post gave me a chuckle: If E *did* have a book sprouting from his back, he would be even more of my dream man than he currently is... as it is, I prop a book AGAINST his back a lot of the time. :)

  12. I just tell people "I hate babies". That usually shuts them up.

  13. I posted about the IVF baby becoming a mother on my blog. I threw the same thought up on FB.


    I wasn't going for the passive aggressive AACTD, but I think it scared everyone.

    "Holy shit, she is talking about it."

    "We are uncomfortable with your dysfunctional uterus."

    I was slightly thrilled.

  14. Punk rock, bunny! Impressive. Good on you.
    I should be more so. Usually only the most dense ask - I apparently give off powerful Don't Ask vibes. Those - The Most Dense - have only got glares thus far, and one time I emphatically told one to mind his own business. Twould be better be far to just spit it out and shame the devil.

  15. AACTD: I love it. I suppose you could have brought "Basmati" along but that might have been overkill:)

    I do think it's good, though. And one nice thing about this is that the same people aren't going to ask you the same dumb questions the next time they see you. Thank goodness.

  16. AACTD is so totally going to catch on. I'm already there, I totally support the AACTD movement that you've started.
    I have AACTD'd before but have always been pissed off at people's reactions. They've often been so ignorant that they carry on questioning me. Or, even worse, they say those stupid platitudes like "your time will come, I just know it" (while touching my shoulder and looking at me with pity eyes). Agh, I hate those looks.
    But yes, educating imbeciles is never going to be easy and I guess we just have to suck it up for the greater good. Nice one bunny. xxx

  17. You crack me up! Thank you for that. Recently When faced with a dad talking about the cost of children who then asked if we planned to have kids I said "oh we're putting our costs in up front" it was a good way to start the conversation and nice to watch the squirming commence.

  18. Bunny, I think your post is seriously funny. Since my whole ttc I've just told people right off, we're trying it's not going so well. If they ask more I tell more if not then I stop. I actually like telling them. Not so much to make them squirm, but because I think they should know that lots of people have a hard time and I think (hope)it opens up their perspective.