Can This Be More Than a Second Life Phenomenon?

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Why do I persist in writing about infertility? Some argue that dwelling on it only holds me back. My answer: I feel an obligation. For me infertility is a special cause. It’s special because there are too many myths and (pardon the pun) misconceptions about it. The fact that many cases are assigned “unexplained” — a black hole in every sense of the term — tells me there’s more work that needs to be done in discussing, diagnosing and treating this condition.

To those who ask if we really need another cause, I respond: would you ask the same question to parents of, for example, autistic children or those advocating on behalf of people who suffer from MS or depression? Each of those causes has greatly benefitted from moving out of the shadows and into the light. 

Sure there are days when I want to forget that I ever had a medicine cabinet full of ovulation kits, basal thermometer charts and syringes as well as a refrigerator full of synthetic hormones.  I have reveled in the distraction that comes from work projects or pure self-indulgence. I have even tried to focus on all of the downsides of having children.

Then I start thinking about the young women out there who are just beginning to doubt their body’s ability to do what other women’s bodies do so effortlessly. I imagine the hopeful couple sitting in a doctor’s office who hear for the first time that there are “irregularities.” I recall the lonely isolation I once felt — the sense of personal failure and societal alienation. And that’s when forgetting or burying my experience seems oddly selfish.

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The Internet, let alone blogs, didn’t exist when I first started pursuing infertility treatment. I was convinced I was an oddity among oddities. Given that clinical textbooks were my only solace, I suffered mostly in silence. How could I not with no one to talk or relate to who knew exactly what I was experiencing or feeling? My journal became the only place where I could attempt to untangle the emotions and thoughts crowding my head. It was at times excruciating to feel so at odds with the world.

Society more often than not marginalizes, ignores, or wose yet, sensationalizes infertility. And we let it because infertility is a painful or embarassing subject. So we hesitate to step forward to open and change the nature of the dialogue. There are millions of us (one in eight couples in the U.S. alone) with some form of infertility walking the planet, and yet myths and misconceptions are the norm. That’s wrong.

I have benefitted from “meeting” people online from around the world who are stepping out of the shadows. We share information, draw comfort and simply feel less alienated by acknowledging each other. Wouldn’t it be great if we could feel this way in our first life, too? Must this only be a second-life phenomenon?

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Infertility is a life-altering condition. I write not only for those who are or will face infertility, but for those who don’t or won’t. It’s rewarding to me to hear from readers who tell me that I’ve helped open their eyes or changed their understanding of what it’s like for those among them who can’t have children. And that’s why I continue writing about it.

 

12 Responses

  1. JJ

    June 3, 2007 10:22 pm

    Im so glad you keep writing–I definitely benefit from your knowledge, and over all commitment to helping others understand the IF world….so a BIG thank you from me!

  2. lady macleod

    June 4, 2007 12:07 am

    I think you do an educational as well as emotionally comforting service, and not only to infertile couples but the general public. I am very grateful for the enlightenment you have given me.

  3. Bea

    June 4, 2007 2:28 am

    I’m glad you’re writing. I mean, if it *does* start holding you back, you look after you. But as things stand, I think it’s great work.

    Bea

  4. Mands

    June 4, 2007 12:22 pm

    Hi there! I just wanted to thank you soooooo much for the little card you sent me! I have been so busy, and only checked my snail mail recently. Imagine my surprise and delight when a pile of cards and postcards came tumbling out! It really made my day. Watch your mailbox!

    Mands xx
    The Secret Garden

  5. Serenity

    June 4, 2007 3:50 pm

    I like that you’re writing to ensure that no one will feel the isolation you did. Nothing but good can come of it, IMO.

    I did want to personally stop by and let you know that your comment on my blog today was well taken. I suspect that the root of some of my anger was borne of jealousy, really. And it’s very true – I have NOT walked in Peggy’s shoes and really have no right to judge her. However, those were my emotions when I read her book – visceral and honest. I like to think that she’s the type of person who would welcome my honesty, given how honestly she has shared her journey with us.

    But I do take your point. I really have no right to judge her until I’ve lived through the same circumstances she has.

  6. Aurelia

    June 5, 2007 3:56 am

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    I just heard today from another woman who has finally discovered the cause of her infertility and miscarriages after pushing and pushing for answers. And now she might finally have a live baby, too late to save her lost ones, but still, the relief she feels from getting an answer is very real.

  7. Carlynn

    June 5, 2007 10:56 am

    I am so sorry about your pregnant pause. I wish it could have been longer than a pause. Your post today is so true. Infertility is a life changing condition, and whether one writes about it or not, it happened and it changed a life. If you can explain even one tenth of this to people who have not gone through infertility or help anyone who is receiving the news for the first or Xth time, every word you write is worth it.

    And thank you for your comment on my blog, it meant a lot, it would have been great to have been able to hang out.

  8. Babyblues

    June 5, 2007 11:55 am

    Keep on writing and I’ll keep on reading. We need more people like you. Spread the word. There’s not enough written about infertility. Sometimes I feel like it’s a social taboo. It’s something you have to experience to truly understand.

  9. Matthew M F Miller

    June 5, 2007 8:57 pm

    Don’t underestimate the power of writing in your coping process. Sure, it is the focus of what you do, but without it you might keep it bottled inside, which is far more damaging.

    Do what you gotta do, but I say write on.

  10. karenO

    June 6, 2007 3:24 pm

    Emily Dickenson said: “If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.” If, through our writing, we can help just one person from feeling lonely and isolated, it would’ve served a great purpose. Infertility breaks your heart into millions of pieces. No-one can keep the hurt away from someone dealing with it. But we can help them through the healing process by sharing our experiences. The solace I’ve found in your blog and those of many of your readers is so precious. Don’t ever stop writing if you can help it!

  11. Foreverhopeful

    June 7, 2007 5:37 am

    I’m so glad you continue to write about infertility. I’ve truly enjoyed coming here to read your words and always get so much of out of it. I wish there were more like you. I also think its therapeutic and its better to put it down than keep it inside. I find it helps make sense of what is inside me sometimes. So thanks for this blog!!

  12. Cathy

    May 23, 2010 8:20 pm

    I can’t thank you enough for writing your blog. I have been searching desperately for someone who made the final decision to end the quest for kids and thankfully stumbled across your archive, which I’m not even halfway through. But your writing has helped me immensely by letting me know that I’m not the only one whose gone through this. My husband and I have been trying to have kids for almost 5 years. During that time, I had 7 miscarriages with the last one being a ruptured ectopic that took both tubes. So we pursued one round of IVF that recently failed. Now our journey has ended because we can’t afford to try again and we realize that we have to stop eventually. Adoption also is just not for us. So I’ve been struggling terribly with the finality and trying to find my place in the world now. But thanks to your blog…it doesn’t seem as hopeless.

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