Friday, 4 February 2011

Not being around family does have its advantages...

Last night we met some friends for drinks, who we have known in Korea since we were first here in 2004. We attended their wedding party in 2005, and have been friendly with them since then. We recently moved to the same neighbourhood as them. She is Korean, he is foreign.

In Korean culture, when you get married, you have a baby. It's quite simple and happens like night follows day. Get married, have a baby. Get married, have a baby. There is no period of getting used to being married, or enjoying your time together as a couple. Nope: get married, have a baby.

This sound like an exaggeration, but I assure you it is not. Three guys in my office got married in one year, and all three of them were expecting within four months of the wedding. It's incredible. Last week my husband was asked by some students 1. when he got married and 2. how many children does he have. He replied '18 months' to question 1, and 'none' to question 2. He says the woman who asked the question stared at him, with a 'does not compute' look on her face. You're married, but you don't have a baby? How does that happen?

So, imagine how our friends feel where they have been married for nearly six years, but do not yet have a baby. This week is Lunar New Year, so it is a big family occasion. We met them after they had just spent two days at her parent's house, with her mother nagging them about everything under the sun.

What was really evident to me was really how much pain they were both in about not having a baby. She had just been nagged about it for two days and obviously needed to get it off her chest. She had also just spent two days with nieces and nephews, and there were a lot of comments like 'They're cute but I'm glad we don't have to take them home.' Also, last night they said they didn't want to be one of those couples who are 'trying,' but if they conceive naturally then that would be great. My heart broke for them at that point because that was exactly what I was saying to myself when I was still in denial that there could be something really wrong.

I'm not sure how much they know about our situation, though we did mention to the guy a few weeks ago that we were having trouble, and he replied 'hey, I've been married 6 years and we don't have kids so...' which I took to mean that they were having some kind of trouble as well. I could have told them last night, but it felt to me as though they needed to vent about their situation, without me weighing in with 'hey, think you've got it bad, here's what's happening to us...'

Some part of me wonders if they would have felt better if we had owned up to it - misery loves company right? And I'm sure that I'll tell my friend about our problems and give her the chance to tell me what's really going on. But last night wasn't about us, it was about them.


luckyme said...

It sounds like the subject is out there so maybe you will gradually share more with these friends, I'm sure they were very grateful to vent with you the other day. I'm always amazed when these stories emerge with people I know, it never fails to surprise me. Recurrent miscarriages is one I often fail to consider as I'm so focussed on conceiving. Imagine being told to 'get a move on you're not getting any younger' when you've secretly been coping with loss after loss but no problem conceiving. It's a minefield.
Also, very glad to have left the country :)

Kat said...

With lunar new year I've had three days of work and have been reading a lot of ALI blogs. The one's I find the most upsetting are the recurrent miscarriage ones, then with the added stress of IVF.

The school I was at last year was really good about my ectopic, and then over time it came out that *everyone* in management had had some kind of pregnancy loss. It made me feel better as they were so understanding.