Infertility is like a gopher.

I’ve got a real problem with necks.

A dear friend recently asked me out of the blue, in public, “I noticed you have all those bumps on your face and neck. What are they? Are they going to go away?”

It was like a maggot-filled squirrel carcass had been dropped in my lap. What? I was shocked and didn’t have time for the gracious response. Instead, my mouth opened and I said, “Yeah. That’s from when I was trying to get pregnant. I didn’t get a baby but I did get a horrible facial deformity. It’s permanent. Not that I’m bitter.”

I sounded like a hateful old hag.

For those playing along at home, I’m referring to the bumps along my jawline that are basically uterine fibroids on my face. Since they’re on my jawline and mercifully not painful, I kind of forget about them. But they’re obviously … obvious.

I’ve been ruminating on why this exchange bothered me. Is it because we like to believe people see our fantasy selves instead of the uterine-fibroids-and-all truth? When I had a black eye, I was amazed by how many people didn’t notice it or pretended not to. Are we just used to people not seeing us? Or do we depend on the dream that our faults aren’t discernible to the naked eye?

In the midst of my navel gazing, I went to the grocery store. Under even the best of circumstances, this trip makes me moderately homicidal. This day was no exception.

There was a couple bickering over what type of bread to purchase. They had an infant in their cart and were sporting sweatpants that suggested sleep and laundry were not happening on the regular. They weren’t adorable new parents – they were haggard and haggling and not being their Oprah best selves.

The guy also had a series of huge neck tattoos that had clearly not been considered all together. They had been plotted individually, and he’d hoped they’d make a pleasing whole.

They did not.

The tattoo closest to my critical harpy eye was some sort of green monster. It was not a known character. Maybe it was his own art. Maybe it didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to. Or maybe it’s exactly what he hoped for and a representation of how all his dreams were coming true. But I looked at that tattoo with disdain and thought, “Oh, fer Christ’s sake. You clearly make horrible life decisions and yet even you are entrusted with a baby. Fuuuuuck riiiiight offfffff.”

It was not one of my kindest, most loving moments.

I am a selfish, horrible person, which is not a surprise. But I was surprised by my vitriol towards this man. The thing about infertility is that after a while, it’s fine. Fine-ish. Fine-adjacent, anyway. And then it pops up like the gopher in “Caddyshack,” all “Hey! Remember me!” And you’re all, “Sonofa bee sting! What the hell?”

I hope I didn’t give neck tattoo guy obvious stink-eye. If I did, it wasn’t about him – it was about me, which I guess is a good lesson. I’m trying to find a larger, feel-good life lesson for all of this. So far, what’ I’ve got is “Don’t look at people’s necks.”

I don’t think that offers a lot of value. Like, it’s not going to get me on Oprah’s “Super Soul Sunday,” unless it’s a very special episode wherein everyone wears turtlenecks.

Or maybe it would be an episode that’s all, “I have a black, black heart, but I’m trying. What about you?”

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  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) March 13, 2018 at 4:17 am

    I remember trying to get pregnant and volunteering in a Texas hospital newborn nursery. Yeah, not the greatest combination of events, especially when there are teenaged mothers — and especially when one of those mothers was 12 YEARS OLD. Did she even know how it happened? TWELVE!?! I had a really hard time with that one.

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) March 13, 2018 at 4:23 am

    And yes, I think we DO depend on the dream that our faults aren't discernible to the naked eye. That would be why I was hurt when shopping with another woman on Saturday and she gave me that look when I vocally reflected that I was afraid the outfit might accentuate my fat belly… the look that said I wasn't fooling anyone.
    Signed, a selfish, horrible person who judges others multiple times every day. *sigh*

  • Reply Angie March 13, 2018 at 4:51 am

    Nora Ephron had a thing or two to say about necks. And I think she also said “it’s all copy.” Hoping this all becomes copy that blesses you and many others.

  • Reply Becky March 13, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Infertility sounds like grief – you never know when it's going to sneak up behind you and whack you over the back of the head with a 2×4.

  • Reply Ernie March 13, 2018 at 11:28 pm

    'Suggested sleep and laundry was not happening on the regular' . . . too funny!! I am always excited to get an email alert that you have posted something. You have a gift at being hilarious.

    My heart breaks for your infertility issue. Truly.

    I do wonder what other people see when they look at me. It usually happens at the mall. I see well put together peeps and then I happen to pass a giant mirror and I'm shocked at how haggard I look. My hair is thinning big time. My kids insist no one sees it but me, but I have stopped believing them.

  • Reply Kari Wagner March 14, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    Don't you hate comments from people who do have kids telling you I am sorry? I'm not referring to anybody above or below me (they all seem so lovely), I am just saying in general?

    I feel like shit even writing anything because I have two kids and I can't begin to imagine what you're going through but I understand, if that makes sense.

    I myself, with kids, wonders how people like the tattoo couple can have kids so easily and others struggle. When there are children in the news murdered by their own fucking parents, WHY?? There are so many who would've been so good to them.

    I don't know what to say, but I do know that you are such an amazing human being, you write the way I only WISH I could write, you're so God damned funny, and I am so happy when I see your posts in my Bloglovin' feed.

    Do that more. Write it out more. Because your story is important. I love you.

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin March 18, 2018 at 11:17 pm

    You totally get to feel whatever you want. And you totally get to write it all out. It's not fair, it's not right. But the fact that you can so insightfully and cleverly write about a man's neck tattoos is worth noting. You've got talent, lady.
    I wish I could just pour you a glass of wine and hold your hand.

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