Out of the nothingness that results from unsuccessful infertility treatment I’ve wanted to create something so that the increasingly invasive treatments and the related loss, damage to dreams and relationships and lingering sadness will not all have been in vain. Through this blog and my developing book I hope to make a small difference, to leave a worthwhile legacy, to shed some light on a much misunderstood topic (more on the misunderstandings in a later post).
It’s a delicate balancing act because I don’t want to deflate the hope of those who are in the midst of infertility treatments but at the same time I want to make it clear to those who can procreate just how complex and difficult living infertile in a fertile world can be.
Connecting with the infertile crowd has not been a problem. The millions of couples who inhabit this community — while mostly invisible or dismissed by the fertile community — are entirely welcoming and kind to anyone who has had to face the devastating realization that making a baby with the one you love is not likely to occur naturally — if ever. I’ve also heard from quite a few sensitive and caring readers who have experienced miscarriage and even from those who hadn’t had reason to dwell on infertility before stumbling upon my blog. All have made it clear that there’s little understanding of this experience.
Reaching the larger blissfully unaware population of moms and dad is the holy grail because they are the ones in the best position to ease the pain of their quietly suffering colleagues and neighbors with simple gestures of empathy. Each time I hear from a reader who wants to help in the cause I rejoice. Here are excerpts from two emails I received from Antonia, the latest recipient of my “Act of Kindness” award:
I have 3 children, but have very briefly known the obsession of trying unsuccessfully to conceive, and the sorrow of miscarriage. Nothing, nothing, nothing compared to what you and what your readers have gone through, or are going through, but enough to give me a sympathetic heart, and a great admiration for someone who bares her heart and soul in the cause of making the issue a little better understood. I have added you to my blogroll…because I do enjoy your writing, whatever the subject matter, and because I want to help the cause on its way a little.
And on the subject of well-intentioned but unsolicited advice:
“I do feel for you so much, I just had to say something. I can’t believe people who leave comments saying ‘Have you thought of adoption?’ If I were you, I would barely be able to restrain myself from replying ‘Goodness me, what a great idea! Do you know, in all the 11 years that I have been dealing on a daily basis with infertility and considering all the various options, do you know, I have never thought of that. Thank you so much for such a wonderful and thoughtful suggestion.’ I know that blogging lends itself to superficial browsing and quick comments – I’ve been guilty of that myself. But honestly. If you see it as part of your role to educate the fertile world about the agonies of infertility, you must sometimes feel you have a very long way to go….”
Yes, my dear Antonia, I do sometimes feel exhausted by how far we need to go. I would prefer to have a happier cause to champion but, as we all know, we don’t always get the luxury of choosing which life experiences come our way. We do, however, have a choice in how we choose to respond to them.
Thank you to all of my readers for your compassion and your willingness to give the subject of infertilty more than a superficial look. Feel free to pass this link along. If you’re a mom or dad who does read this blog, please don’t be shy
about commenting. You’re a very important part of the equation.
Note: On the subject of adoption, there are two very good discussions here at Miss E’s blog and here on Sharah’s. Both help to explain why it’s simplistic and false logic to assume that adoption is the inevitable and easy answer to infertility — just as signing up for a dating service is not the first step one takes, if ever, when losing a spouse.
June 25, 2007 8:20 pm
I think an important point for you to remember is that you are not only dealing with misperceptions here, but a huge well of lack of awareness of the issue, of the pain that is caused, of the lasting emotional , physical, and financial scars. I feel that I have learned so much since finding your blog. Perhaps I was fertile ground having had two miscarriages and lost a child just after birth, but I am the everyday blissful and grateful mother of a brilliant, compassionate, and beautiful daughter of twenty-three years now. And every day I know how precious that life is, and how blessed I am to be part of her life.
Thank you for doing what you do on this blog. I think writing a book is brilliant. If I may, I would say make it fiction to grab the public and then sneak the facts and reality up on them. Just an idea… and well done.
June 25, 2007 11:23 pm
And to add to Lady Macleod, it’s also the sensationalism of the media and a view that it isn’t a medical problem because it’s a “choice.” Sometimes it can be exhausting to explain. Sometimes, if the person is open to the message, it can be a wonderful connection.
June 26, 2007 1:31 am
Thank you for commenting on my blog and adding me to your blogroll. I just spent the last hour reading a handful of your previous posts and loved every one of them. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and stories.
June 26, 2007 10:20 am
Ah yes, the delightful moments when members of my very own family, who KNOW I am spectacularly ungifted in the reproductive department, ask me when I’m going to get a move on and have a baby. My calm rational part knows they are kind and interested, really, and mean well. They just can’t make the connection between my physical condition and infertility, and that infertility means babies are not very likely. And every time, I sit down with my husband and we look at each other and say ‘How, HOW, can they not get it? Would you ask a man with no legs when he was going to get up and run the Marathon?’ It’s not even rude or insensitive. It is downright SURREAL.
Also, the next relative who sends me an article cut from a sunday colour supplement saying relaxing is the way to go will, will, well, actually I don’t know what I’ll do. Ask them why they think my gynaecologist has never recommended relaxing, I suppose.
When your novel does come out, I am so buying them each a copy.
June 26, 2007 6:00 pm
Mel has a very good point about sensationalization. I just read a book that I am planning on reviewing – but I’m not sure I won’t have too much venom for the author’s lack of fact-checking and concentration on the sensationalistic versus reality.
DH is worried I might give it all away. (He is more guarded about this than I am.) It is so not fun trying to educate those who will not learn. And there are many. I deal with this not only from the side of infertility, but the side of food allergy – and, honestly, there are massive similarities between the two when it comes to false perceptions. Too many people think both diseases are fantasies rather than very real diseases.
Of course, they say infertility doesn’t kill you, rather it tears bits and pieces from your soul at the strangest times. But, I’m feeling somewhat maudlin today.
June 26, 2007 11:45 pm
Thanks for being in the place and having the energy to tackle this. I’m with you, if not so actively at the moment. Thank you for writing…your blog helps keep me sane.
June 27, 2007 12:30 am
It’s a very fine line you walk. And there will always be one more ignorant fool. Hopefully you can make enough of an indent to leave you satisfied.
June 27, 2007 4:32 am
I know that I come across as the poster child for adoption and I don’t mean to. It’s just that when I read your blog I feel so much of the pain I experienced with infertility. It is very fresh and raw here. I know it too well, but it is hard for me to relive the painful feelings again. It is like picking at a healing wound.
What I wanted more than almost anything (except getting pregnant)when actively dealing with my infertility was to stop the pain, the ache, and the feeling “less than.” It made me depressed and dysfunctional. This was not a pain I wanted to own. I wanted to move past it because it consumed all of who I was.
With adoption, I was able to let the majority of that pain go. I hope that your book becomes your way of move through/past the pain of infertility.
June 27, 2007 3:16 pm
The one thing I’ve learned through Infertility is that nothing is ever as straightforward as it seems from the outside. Every single thing in life has it’s price, if you come by it the easy or the hard way. Some of us are lucky to gain wisdom through hardships, and in turn being stronger when challenged by other difficulties in our lives.
If one of the good things coming from Infertility is the appreciation of our blessings, even though they weren’t the one we would’ve chosen for ourselves, then it’s good!
Thanks to you too for your blog: it is one of the most important ones in our blogosphere because you have an incredible way with words. Your book won’t have a choice but be a success! 🙂
June 28, 2007 5:01 pm
This is another great post. I just wanted to let you know how much I’ve enjoyed reading your blog and you’ve been able to describe the affects of IF in words that I have not been able to. So thank you for that. You’ve also helped me look deep within myself and sparked many of my own posts from yours. IF is such a complex personal journey and its hard for anyone to completely understand unless you’ve walked in the exact same shoes. Big hugs to you.
June 30, 2007 10:32 pm
It seems to me from reading your blog (and from personal experience too) that dealing with other people’s tactless remarks is a huge part of dealing with infertility or pregnancy loss. Sadly, the medical professions are often to blame here too.
Why don’t you set up a page on your blog where people can send in the hurtful things that have been said to them? Somehow, telling a sympathetic listener helps. Writing seems to help too – getting it out in print provides some kind of emotional distance. It also helps to read other people’s stories, and know that you are not the only one. You could promise to print off the comments and burn them. I would love to think of the horrid things said to people being reduced to ashes. Just an idea. Maybe it already exists somewhere, maybe it’s a bad idea. Just an idea. I wonder what others think.
July 2, 2007 8:44 pm
Pamela Jeanne, I just wanted to let you know I’m still reading, still hoping for you, and still filled with admiration for your strength. Keep speaking truth, sister. We’re all in this together, no matter where we are in our individual journeys.