Trying to Capture the Experience In a Different Form


I’ve been reluctant to post after sharing my short “film.”  You can view it on YouTube.

The images and music powerfully convey what I’ve experienced, what many of you have or continue to experience today. It seems anything I write now pales in comparison.

Compiling and arranging the images took a lot out of me. It reminded me, yet again, how painful being infertile is. At the same time, watching the final piece also motivated me. It made me want to do a better job capturing those same emotions with my other writing project — a book loosely based on my infertility experiences.

I started writing it four years ago. It’s not in the usual genre of infertility literature or “Repro Lit” as it’s now being called. It is obviously not a breathless memoir of finding my way to baby land or the latest suggestions on how to conceive.  Mine is, in fact, the mirror opposite of Peggy Orenstein’s “Waiting for Daisy.” Unlike Peggy, I always knew I wanted to have a baby. After years of trying she delivered Daisy. Me? I jumped through many of the same hoops. No baby.

Outside of a handful of you who have left comments here and just a few fellow bloggers who came away from IF treatments without a child, I’ve often wondered why I don’t hear more from or about the millions of couples out there who are living infertile in a fertile world.  Of course, it’s not easy to write about the other outcome. Maybe that’s why I’ve not seen anything like my book-to-be out there. My book, like the “film,” makes it clear that there’s more than one destination on the long road of infertility treatments, though not the one infertile couples seek, or that fertile myrtles prefer to believe is inevitable, thanks to the wonders of science.

See also  Why Do We Whisper?

So I’ll be dropping by your blogs to see how you’re doing but I’ll likely to be posting less in the coming weeks as I devote more time to my other writing. I want it to be something you’re proud of, something that captures the right depth, tone and emotion.

What are some of the elements you would bring to light?


17 Responses

  1. Lori

    August 1, 2007 6:59 pm

    1. The loneliness. When I went through IF, it was pre-blog days and I was living in an Arab country. There was no community for support. Even now, I bet many people have more “virtual” support than real life support.

    2. The feeling of being branded (and the accompanying shame, much of which is self-inflicted). The cocktail conversation killer: “How many children do you have.” “Ummm…none.” “Oh. Where did you get that shrimp? I’m gonna get some myself.”

    3. The good side. Yes, I think there is one. More time. More freedom. More money, more fun, more spontaneity. Less chaos. The occasional freaking bubble bath.

    I had never thought about it until now, Pamela Jeanne. The Childless-by-Resignation story is not very prominent. I am glad you will be giving voice to your experiences and feelings.

    Let me know when I can come to an author signing.

  2. Irish Girl

    August 1, 2007 7:24 pm

    Often I’ve wondered why there aren’t more like “us” out here in the land of blogs,. “Us” meaning couples who tried treatments, who didn’t adopt, and are now living childfree. It’s still a resolution to infertility – whether chosen or not – albeit unpopular. Do most others who take this path just leave it behind? Is it too painful for many of them to keep writing about it? I’m so glad you are writing a book from your unique perspective! Right now I think if I could get a message out to the community it would be this: Just because we chose to stop treatments and not to adopt does NOT mean that we do not occasionally long for the life we could have/should have/would have had if we’d conceived during our years of trying. The wounds still remain. The experience has shaped who we are. Yet we are not living in utter sadness or depression. We are strong most days. Some days we’re fragile. Just like everyone else.

    PJ – I can’t wait to read your book! I know you’ll make us proud!

  3. DG

    August 1, 2007 8:40 pm

    I have a child, facing secondary infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and now donor eggs… so my experience is not the same.

    But I have been thinking a lot about the road I’ve travelled, about the process of change, and acceptance, and about not always being able to “win”

    I am looking forward to reading your book.

  4. forerhopeful2003

    August 1, 2007 10:27 pm

    I think its great you’re writing a book. You are a talented writer and definitely have a way with words and expressing yourself. I look forward to reading it one day. I think it takes courage and strength to continue to make a difference after all you’ve been through. Thank you for that.

  5. Kami

    August 1, 2007 10:39 pm

    Good for you for devoting more time to your book.

    1) Social isolation
    2) Social isolation (again) when friends are grandparents
    3) You can run out of energy and money before you run out of the desire to have a child.
    4) There are so many steps of loss and unwanted compromises along the way – it really does chip away at your emotional reserves

    May the Muses be with you PJ!

  6. Bea

    August 1, 2007 10:50 pm

    Best of luck with your book. Can’t wait to read it. I would like you to show the changes in attitude over time. It seems common, for example, to experience utter despair during the first year/4-5 treatment cycles, but periods of hope can follow.

    Sometimes it seems friends give up because they expect the despair to last until the baby comes (and then they think it’ll suddenly evaporate) and with the baby not forthcoming, they just become more and more uncomfortable and eventually drift away. You can always ask how things are going one more time.


  7. Kareno

    August 2, 2007 3:41 pm

    Lori and Kami mentioned GREAT elements you can shed more light upon. I want to elaborate on what Irish Girl said. The perception is out there that once we’re trying to come to terms with living childfree, and we’re really trying hard to be positive, that the hurt is gone. People tend to think that once we said that we accepted the fact that we have to life without children, they think we should just shrug the hurt off our shoulders and out of our lives. Not so easily. The hurt always remains, we will always miss not having children.

    I so much admire you for writing this novel – it’s a story that needs to be told to those who want to listen AND those who want to ignore it. We’ll miss you, but we’re eager to read your book! 🙂

  8. chicklet

    August 2, 2007 5:25 pm

    Good luck with the book. All the ‘advice on how to conceive’ books pick my ass, so something about the actual experience instead would be cool.

  9. lady macleod

    August 2, 2007 9:20 pm

    I of course have nothing to add, but to say, the fact there is nothing “out there” that describes your shared experience is all the reason you need to write your book. I wait for the publishing date and will have my order in to Amazon. I have learned so much from you that I am having one of my characters in an upcoming story line mirror some of what you have written here. so write on..

  10. Zee

    August 3, 2007 3:20 am

    This may not be relevant, but when I contemplate what you call “the other outcome” I think of when I was in high school and wanted desperately (oh how desperately!) for my body to look like it never would or could be able to look. As I tried to “fix” myself, and cried and got frustrated, my mother would tell me that someday I would just come to accept what I had. That I’d realize that it wasn’t what I wanted so badly, but that it wasn’t completely horrible either. And I’d tell her point blank, “I don’t want to ACCEPT my body the way it is. I want it to be how I WANT it to be.” Not only did I want the body-type I wanted, but I didn’t ever (EVER!) want to be satisfied with anything less. It infuriated me to even imagine accepting anything other than my heart’s desire. At the time I found it preferable to be miserable and striving my whole life than to “sell out” and accept what I had.
    Fast forward to me now. Guess what? I still don’t look like my high school dream. If someone could wave a wand and make it so, would I take it? Sure. Do I think about it obsessively anymore? No. Am I okay with that? Yes. The fact is, over time I did accept the inevitable. And, honestly and truly, I don’t feel like I “sold out” just because I stopped banging my head on that particular brick wall.

    In the same way, right now, still in the thick of “trying,” I can’t even contemplate accepting the “other outcome.” And, like the teenage me, it makes me furious to think that someday I may have to. And it makes me doubly furious to realize that, if it comes to this, someday I will probably even be okay with that acceptance. (Well, I’ll be okay most of the time, anyway. Someday. Maybe not for a long time, but still…)And, while that thought is comforting in a way, it also makes me very, very sad. Because accepting that outcome, and furnishing it, and making it my home, means not only giving up a dream, it also means giving up my passionate determination to “never give up.” And for me (and I’m certain I’m not alone in this) that will be almost as much of a loss as the loss of the children I want so much and may never have.

    (Sorry this was so long. I hope it makes sense and helps you in some way. As someone above said already, “May the Muses smile upon you, PJ!” I’ll miss your blogging, but will look forward to the book!)

  11. Holly Braud

    August 3, 2007 1:46 pm

    Hi Pamela, just wanted to say thank you for leaving a comment on my blog earlier today! It is hard to read blogs at work but I will look forward to reading yours tonight when I get home. I, too, am sorry to meet under “these” circumstances but I am glad to have another friend with which to share the journey with! Thanks again.

  12. Geohde

    August 4, 2007 7:11 am

    That whilst I am infertile, it doesn’t define me.

    Good luck with your book.


  13. Mel

    August 4, 2007 7:36 pm

    Your long-awaited Long Island Iced Tea…

    Someone asked Peggy at a reading if she would have written the book if she hadn’t had Daisy and she admitted that as hard as it was to publish Daisy (she went through a lot to get it on the bookshelves), it would have been impossible if it hadn’t had that conclusion.

    Which is a shame that publishers believe that because they are many many many of us who would like to read the books that go to living child-free. Enough to warrant publishing them. Write it. There are ways to get the book out there.

  14. Aurelia

    August 5, 2007 5:43 am

    First Pamela, my apologies for leaving the browser open for a whole day and sitting on your blog. I’m not crazy, just horribly absentminded. Dork me walked away from the computer.

    Anyway, I’d love to know why the media, the public and even infertiles treat IF as being only about not being able to have a baby or get pregnant.

    It is a medical condition with lifelong implications. I’m always disturbed when I hear the diagnosis “unexplained IF” yet women would never just leave it alone, if we called it unexplained cancer.

    My endometriosis causes pain, hormonal imbalances, POF, and therefore osteoporosis, and endo is caused by a gene that also causes clotting problems, and in some women heart attacks. I have 2 kids, but whether I ever had them or not, I’d like to live a long life!

    PCOS is connected to diabetes. Thyroid problems are connected to IF and other health problems. I could go on and on, you know all this stuff, I just would love to know why the world acts like IF isn’t a terrible public health problem, and instead just a social one.

  15. Kareno

    August 5, 2007 10:48 am

    Hello you… about the comment on my blog, the answer is YES PLEASE!! Just say when!! 🙂 Let me know what I need to do ok?

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