Friday, September 25, 2009

Sick sense of humor

My husband Will and I are developing a twisted sense of humor. Maybe it's a way to cope with our five miscarriages, but over the past two years, our jokes have gotten increasingly dark. We laugh together quite a bit, but the jokes are getting to be a little off. I think it's actually a sign of progress that we can share a good chuckle, either making fun of our own horrid luck or using humor to express our exasperation with various family members (who always mean so well but sometimes say the gosh-darndest things.)

I've grown so comfortable with our increasingly weird shared humor that I've begun to lack good judgment about what others might find funny. You know, like normal people. I'm starting to notice that only those who are grappling with infertility seem to appreciate my IVF/miscarriage humor.

I had drinks earlier this week with a friend who after several canceled IVFs is about to move on to donor egg, and we had a grand ole' time, laughing our heads off about the ridiculously absurd moments with our feet in stirrups, the clueless things people say, our envy toward those with accidental pregnancies. The whole nine yards.

Then last night I had dinner with another friend, one who has known me for several years, and who knows my history of IVF and five pregnancy losses. And we had some real heart-to-heart moments, which was great.

And then I cracked a few really funny zingers about miscarriage and mangled chromosomes. We're talking practically stand-up material here.

Nothing. Not a single smile. Even though I know this friend shares my dry humor on other topics.

Hmm...perhaps she didn't get it?

I tried another one.


She finally said, "Mo, I can't laugh with you about this. I just can't. What you say is really funny, but your situation is so awful that I just can't."

Oh. Right. Not funny. In fact, very, very sad.


I acknowledged that I'd put her in an awkward position. Should she laugh? Not laugh? It must have felt very confusing. I promptly apologized.

And yet, I am still pulled to the dark side.

I just ran across this picture on a blog as an example of an e-card that never made it into print. And I howled with laughter:

I found it hilarious. Why? Because it touches on the fact that 1.) There is really no "good" side to loss and people's attempts to point out the silver lining are just doomed to piss you off and fail. And 2.) It highlights the point that there are no cards or other rituals to acknowledge pregnancy loss, just as there is no space to mourn miscarriage in this culture (unlike in say, Japan). And for that reason, our repeated losses are sometimes not acknowledged and have often created awkward silences in which both I and the other person feel badly.

So OK, OK! I get it. It is probably inappropriate to share this card with friends who haven't miscarried or struggled to conceive.

I will be a good friend and act with restraint.

Instead, I will share it with you.

Thanks for being there.


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  1. Okay, is it wrong that I would totally love to hear your twisted chromosome jokes? My kids and I have a genetic syndrome that makes life interesting sometimes and I've noticed that yeah, most people who don't also have the syndrome or have kids with it don't think it's all that hilarious when I talk about how the misbehaving middle child is going to get sold to the circus to pay the baby's medical bills, etc. (or, and here is where I'm totally going to the hot place, when I say things like "between the hyperflexible joints and stunted growth THAT one will get rich FAST in the porn industry!"). Personally I prefer laughter over tears and sometimes it's one or the other, y'know? That card was awesome :)

  2. I'm a lover of the bad joke in times of horrific stress and/or sadness. I'm in the midst of a stressful and complicated pregnancy now where my husband and I have been laughing at the worst moments and making up just bad nicknames for our child-to-be.
    My favorite sad/joke moment came from my younger sister who lost her 1st baby at 23 weeks (perfect baby, but the cord wrapped around her neck 4x.) I went to visit my sister after the loss and she shared with me the cremated remains of the baby. "Look," she said, "there's a small femur in the bag." I gently shook the bag to get a better look and she yelled "OH MY GOD! Shaken baby! Shaken Baby!!" Then covered her face and sobbed. The thought still makes me smile and tear up simultaneously.
    If you can't find the humor in the worst times, it's a very sad existence. Because, really, everyone has to be there at some point in life. I'm happy for you that your husband and you can share laughter through your pain. Best wishes for a beautiful baby in your life very soon.

  3. Oh cripes, that downtrodden little ute and fallopian tubes just made my day! (And I needed a laugh!) I LOVE it. Humor is priceless...I mean really, how else could people survive this stuff? Thanks for sharing your twisted side.

  4. I TOTALLY get it. Not only do others not get the humor, but they also don't understand the process. I feel like Ihave to give a biology lesson to everyone I confide in. It's much better to be with people who "get it" (even virtually).

    I prefer laughter to tears too. Laughter is hard to find in this process...maybe that's why we keep getting progressively more dark...we have to keep going deeper to find the laughter.

    I'm just glad we can laugh.


    You're not alone. :-) I always got a laugh- usually followed by a cry- out of those.

  6. It's good to laugh at our situations sometimes. It's great that you have such a good sense of humor. Love the ecard.

  7. Ah yes, the light and simultaneous dark side of infertility. I have had many a good laugh about meds and the wand and even the dreaded PIOs with my IF friends. Other people just feel sorry for us, but if all we did was feel sorry for ourselves, we'd jump off of the nearest bridge!

    So laugh up, Mo. Laugh until you cry and then cry until you can laugh again.


  8. Totally hearing you here:).

    I, too would crack great jokes at my own (or at least my eggs') expense. I, too, found others didn't know what to do with my humor.

    But it did me wonders anyway:).
    Glad to hear you are laughing...

  9. I think we have to find humor in the situation or we would go crazy! My hubby and I are the same way. I am sure many "normal" people do not get it, will not get it but thats ok. They don't get anything else about IF and miscarriage so whatever.

    I think the card is hilarious!

  10. Wow, I never knew an e-card about miscarriage go could say so much in a few words. Brilliant! My guy and I make jokes all the time about my miscarriages, my dead dad and having cancer. I mean what other tools do we have to deal with so much sadness, or healthy tools anyway. There has to be some lightness to go along with the darkness.

    Thanks for sharing this. You made my day :)

  11. We have been twisted for a while, and I think it is the only REAL way to deal with infertility - we can not cry all the time - so why not laugh? we even always have a fun time laughing before and after fun things like scans and egg retrievals(to the great horror of everyone else in the clinic!). Who doesn't even talk to their spouse, yet alone giggle about the bad p*rn...

  12. We totally embraced the dark humor during our IF, IVF cycle, and miscarriage. But yeah, no one else thought it was funny.

    Love the e-card.

  13. I'm so sorry your friend didn't get it. You have to laugh. It's medicine. It's sticky glue that holds us together. IMO, in bad times, the more inappropriate the humor the better.

    I remember when we first met, I joked about what we could consume (and I wasn't just talking tequila!) since we weren't cycling. You volleyed back without batting an eyelash. If a twisted sense of humor keeps you from curling up into a ball, twist away!

  14. I love you sense of humor! The other day I swore on my miscarried babies that I was telling the truth about something and DH started laughing along with me. I really think its the only way to get through all of this.

    Sometimes I get annoyed when people insist on being sad. It's sad, but it's also absurd, and it's just to painful to not make it your bitch.

  16. I do love me some dark and twisty jokes. I do feel as though very, very few people "get" me anymore. Your friend's response hit me in the gut though - you have been through hell and f**k I wish it were different for you. Right. now.

  17. This was such a great post, I can't think of a worthy enough comment for it but I'll try. Having recently endured my 2nd loss, I have to say that DH and I found that ecard hilarious. After a while you get tired of being sad and tiptoed around. If you can laugh at the situation, it doesn't mean you're not still grieving. But you're healing at least a little bit, at least enough to appreciate a dark humor take on the situation. That's not a bad thing, even if some people find it uncomfortable.

  18. You know what? Sometimes if we don't laugh we'll cry, so i totally understand! Laugh all you can! ;)

  19. Love the card! Laughter it is a good way to move forward from all that you have experienced.

    I tend to be WAY to casual when addressing my loss in front of other people and it must make them uncomfortable but that's why it's mine.

    We can treat our situations however we want and laugh or cry about it, depending on the moment. But like anything, you better have "been in these shoes" to make a joke about it. Otherwise, the insensitivity weighs out.

    Keep laughing, girl!

  20. If you don't laugh, you will cry. Isn't that how the saying goes?

    Today I laughed hysterically at some sperm magnets in the RE's office while I was getting my blood drawn. I mean, really? A hippy sperm? I needed that giggle.

    I kind of ♥ the sad vs. strong uterus in the e-card. :)

  21. Horrified that I'm LOL at that card, but heck, I am. Its funny. Maybe it's like one of those "location jokes" - you have to be there to get it.

  22. I am with you in the dark humor stage of things. Why do I try to cheer myself up about my miscarriage by saying that at latest is that at least my pants fit again.

    I love what Anonymous' story about the shaken baby. Too funny and too sad.

    The way I feel, if I can't laugh I'll completely fall apart. I try to make little jokes to my RE, but I think it makes him uncomfortable...

  23. Ok, that's the funniest card I've seen in a long time. The saddest card, but also the funniest card. And I'd love to hear your chromosome joke. Dark humor is the only kind I appreciate these days.

  24. Mo. I think that ecard was a little funny too. I guess I'm wounded also.

  25. Snicker - love that card! (says she who's had 2 miscarriages and swears she may be threatening PTL with this pg)
    I'd love to hear more of your twisted humour!

  26. I love how the fallipian tubes are the muscley arms!

    We joke about it too-usually riddled with sarcasm. I also see it as a sign of healing and resilience.

  27. Sadly, that card is probably one of the more sensitive things I've heard said when a woman miscarries.

    Thanks for a good post!

  28. I like your dark sense of humor!

  29. I actually found a card for someone who has had losses or trouble conceiving and I bought it. I've never mailed it but I just have it.

    I always was a bit dark so I can't blame IF. I will share my most mortifying moment in stirrups had nothing to do with being naked or any of the awful things they do. I was particularly exhausted one morning and I had let Ken do the laundry and put my socks on without looking... I am in the stirrups and I look down and I am wearing TWO DIFFERENT SOCKS! How mortifying... the only clothing I am allowed to wear below my waist and I don't even match!!! :)

  30. I love that card. I found one on 'some e cards' once, (but they don't seem to have it any more) that said "congratulations on NOT having a miscarriage". I always hoped I would be eligible for someone to send me that! I would have sent it to myself!! :-)

    I know what you mean about the dark humour. It is a fine line. I have it too, and find it easier to hang out with my buddies online who share it, and get what I'm talking about. I need to be able to share that humour with people. It's what gets me through.

  31. My Dad is Scottish and this sort of "gallows humour" is pretty much Scotch humour through and through. So I found it hilarious in an extremely poignant way, exactly the right thing to say in so many ways because really, what else is there to say in such a horrid situation?

  32. I am soooo with you. On:

    a.) the dark humor
    b.) failing to recognize when other people will find me inappropriate

    Unfortunately for me, this applies not just to infertility but also many other facets of my life. Ooops

  33. I couldn't help but give a little chuckle. We have to see something light in those circumstances or we'll go damn crazy.

  34. You have definetly got to laugh about it all.
    Please chek out my blog hopefuly it will give you a giggle.

  35. I would have laughed. Hard :)

    Saddly, it seems only my DH finds me particularly funny now days. Ah well!

  36. lol that's too funny about your awkward moments. I thought the ecard was pretty funny. :) We gotta take the smiles where-ever we can!

  37. oh I totally know what you mean about the dark humor. it's definitely a coping mechanism for me. I use it a lot, though I do realize it can make others uncomfortable.

    when my mom was dx'ed with a rare type of tumor with an unsure prognosis, she used it too. I recognized her humor as part of her process -- a way for her to both face it head on and put some distance. but others were taken back, including her doctor. someone told her it was inappropriate. but really shouldn't she be the judge of that?

    I realize people just don't know how to respond and it makes them uncomfortable. (especially when it's self deprecating humor -- no one is sure whether to laugh or not.)

    part of me says eff them if they can't take a joke. sometimes I wasn't laughing I'd sure as hell be crying.

  38. missing an "if" in the last sentence.

  39. You HAVE to laugh through this shit. Or you won't get through it. No matter how dark or morbid it is, it's the only way to survive.

  40. Hey, Julie of ALP is who's gotten me through much of my infertility angst and anguish so ... bitter humor? Oh yeah. Love the card. So sorry you (and so many of us) get why it's funny.

  41. That card is hilarious! And, it pretty much mirrors my behavior..I head straight for the bottle after each loss. We have to have humor to cope. There is so much in this IF world that "outsiders" don't get. Hang in there!

  42. Oh, how I wish I could hear your cracks. I would totally appreciate them.

  43. I am totally with you about the dark sense of humor. I totally get that. I would have cracked by now without my sarcasm and jokes about the absurdity of it all.

    And that was so fascinating about Japan (I followed the link to the old post.)

  44. My husband and I call his sperm Flying Pegasus Sperm, because of his poor morphology. When we were getting the run down of all the crap wrong with us( him morphology and a lowish count,me hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, PCOS, umm and a polyp) it was so awful that we were just laughing. Because it is damn better than crying. And when the RE had his back turned my husband whispered to me " flying pegasus sperm" and we have joked about it ever since.

    My RE's office NEVER laughed when I make jokes about how this is all because my husband is related to the Jersey Devil family(descendant on his mom's side of the Leeds family) and how that was why we couldn't get pregnant. Because he was a mutant. I still think it's funny.

  45. I work in law enforcement...gallows humor is all we have. I don't know why people don't find it funny. I love the ecard.

  46. thank you for the laugh. I love a twisted sense of humor that somewhat mirrors my own. Oh, if I had a dollar for everytime I was good, then had a BFN or a miscarriage, and then drank myself stupid (booze, caffeine) - I'd have like um, 12 bucks!

    I'm going to save this picture (with your consent), look at it, and laugh my ass off when I'm feeling shithouse.

  47. thank you for liking the e-card. i got so much hate mail for that thing, i took it down out of sheer laziness for not wanting to reply to people and defend my sick mind. glad to know i am not the only one not consoled by dewey roses and teddy bears.

  48. It was very interesting to read about this in your article. blood pressure

  49. thank you for the laugh. I love a twisted sense of humor that somewhat mirrors my own. Oh, if I had a dollar for everytime I was good, then had a BFN or a miscarriage, and then drank myself stupid (booze, caffeine) - I'd have like um, 12 bucks! I'm going to save this picture (with your consent), look at it, and laugh my ass off when I'm feeling shithouse.


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