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Hanukkah & Infertility: Will the Similarities Never End?
a blog by Lori Shandle-Fox, November 26, 2013
Jews and infertile people have a lot in common. So while other women are disappointed in and appalled at how their relatives treat them when they're trying to cope with infertility, infertile Jewish women are, yes, a little irritated with our relatives, but that's nothing new. Most of our relatives are an irritating bunch. We're certainly not disappointed in how they're handling our infertility issues. We've never been dumb or naive enough to expect compassion and understanding. They're not a compassionate or understanding group. I love my background and am extremely proud of my people as a whole, but something happens to them when they're relatives... and they gather together in a furnished home.
Once I had been officially declared "infertile" I would talk to other women in the fertility doctor's waiting room. Since I was new at this, I just listened to their dark tales of woe in dealing with their families.
"My husband and I really don't want to get together with my cousins. They'll spend the whole time talking about their kids: How cute they are, how smart they are, how proud their parents are to be grandparents..."
I was having deja vu. (Feel free to call it deja Jew. I won't mind.) Where have I suffered through the same thing before? No, it wasn't a past life... Oh right.... at Hanukkah- every year of my life- since I was 12.
"Oh Gd, Dad's cousins are coming over again. They won't stop BS-ing about their kids all evening: How smart they are, how they have such a great job, how his employers were so impressed with him they catapulted him from the mailroom to CEO in the first week. Imagine that."
And then my mind drifted back to the ladies in the waiting room and I rejoined the conversation.
"I can't believe my aunt asked me if I'd gained weight because she read that heavy women have a harder time getting pregnant. I can't believe she said that."
"Well I can't believe my cousin Susie told me I looked too thin. She heard women who are underweight have a hard time getting pregnant. How rude is that?!"
And my mind drifted once again to Hanukkahs past:
"Have you gained weight? Maybe it's me. You just look heavier. David, look at Lori. Doesn't she look heavier? Roberta, look at Lori. Is it just me or didn't she used to have only one chin?"
"You're too thin. Are you well? You're gaunt. Lori, don't you eat? David doesn't she look sick? And pale? Roberta?"
Sometimes they'll say it to your face. Often they'll whisper it behind your back. Jews typically will say it in the kitchen just loud enough for you to hear it in the living room over the ice machine and the TV. Never leave Jews related to you alone in the kitchen during a holiday. They're talking about somebody. And if you're out here and they're in there, it's you. I know she said she was going in there to baste the turkey. They're in the kitchen for 20 minutes. It takes 47 seconds to baste the turkey. The rest of the time is gravy. (b'dum bum) And anyway, how many Jews does it take to baste a turkey? 6. One to baste it, two to tell you you shouldn't be doing it with a spoon, and three to remind you that you're about to burn yourself because that oven you've been cooking in for the past 4 hours... is hot.
After a year of treatments, I had finally been declared pregnant on December 21st, during the Hanukkah season. Of course you want a baby to love it and add to your family blah blah blah... but there's no greater incentive to getting pregnant than getting people who love you to leave you the F alone.