A BlogHer editor has asked for our participation in a project started at BlogHer. You don’t have to be a member. Here’s the assignment: Write a letter to your body and add your URL to the end of Mel’s BlogHer post. Let’s overwhelm them. As she points out, few women know their bodies better than infertile women.
I’m also asking for your help here for another reason. I’m not going to sugar coat it. I’m tired of playing second fiddle to the ‘Mommy Bloggers.’ I find it, well, insulting that the Infertility bloggers at BlogHer are hidden under the Health and Wellness tab. While there are many other topics covered by fine writers on the site, the “Mommy” bloggers dominate. It’s hard to miss them. (As an aside: I am dumbfounded at how blissfully unaware they are about how their photo/avatars — the vast majority of which contain their babies’ faces front and center — can make other women feel. They’re clearly not worried that those images can be heartbreaking at worst and off-putting at best for those who have fertility issues.)
As I try to come to terms with my inability to conceive and the identity and self-esteem issues that infertility raises, I have to make sure I’m in the right frame of mind to visit the BlogHer site. While I’m an Infertility blogger I don’t use a photo of my endometriosis riddled uterus to represent myself. I had suggested before joining the ad network that the site separate out the “Mommies” and their concerns as one section and allow ‘Family’ as its own section. Single women have families. Infertile women are part of families. Family issues involve older relatives as well as children, so why is it only Mommies can have families? Yes, I’ve had some difficulty fitting into BlogHer. My letter, I hope, helps explain why:
When I was 14 I fell in love with you. I was in awe of you. Your new-found curves made me see myself in a whole new light. Your powerful rhythm every 28 days reminded me, continuously, that I was built to conceive and nurture life. You instilled in me a sense of power and sensuality in a way that made me feel special, feminine, a part of a long line of women who had withstood pain to bring forth a new generation.
When I turned 29 I longed to put you to work. To feel the sensation of life fluttering inside my womb, to watch my ample breasts fill with milk, to see my tiny waistline disappear. Every 28 days I waited for a sign. And waited and waited. It didn’t come.
By my early 30s I was angry with you. Throughout that decade you systematically robbed me of my innocence. Poked, prodded and then treated by hormones prescribed by an army of specialists, you refused to comply. I pleaded with you, humbled by the complexity required to allow a little a tiny mass of cells to implant and grow. Surgery upon surgery. Prayer upon prayer. Month upon month upon month, upon years and you remained unwilling to cooperate.
Now in my 40s I am trying to make peace with you. You are a riddle wrapped in an enigma. You have the toned and lean silhouette of a 20-something. With your impossibly long legs and hour glass figure you can still dazzle in an evening gown. Strangers would have no idea that you harbor a barren, inhospitable womb. You are my body and soon will lose the last shred of hope that has sustained me through the hardest months: the promise of ever conceiving life. You’ve kept from me the baby I hoped to create with my husband and raise with all of the wonder that comes with seeing the world again through the eyes of a new generation.
I believe in time we can become friends again. Yours, Pamela Jeanne
February 29, 2008 5:38 pm
I can’t read BlogHer especially for the reasons you state. I have a friend who blogs over there as well and I really believe she doesn’t understand the difference between “Mommy” and “woman”. I would love to dare to point this out to her.
February 29, 2008 6:22 pm
Pamela – thank you for this powerful piece! I think these conversations are so, so important – and I’m learning every time I read your wonderful blog.
February 29, 2008 7:23 pm
Very powerful letter! Thank you for sharing.
March 1, 2008 9:49 pm
I really enjoyed reading your letter. This topic is very near and dear to my heart — having spent most of my life overweight, despite being healthy and active. And hating my body so much for not “looking” right, blaming those pounds for everything that’s wrong with my life.
Now that I struggle to get pregnant and hold onto pregnancies, I feel such remorse for all that time spent intensely hating my body so much. Suddenly I am obsessed less with the cottage-cheesiness of my thighs and much more on the endometriosis ugliness on my ovaries that no one can see. Funny how it took replacing one set of numbers (e.g. follicle counts, FSH, beta levels) to forget about the other ones I used to care so much about (e.g. weight, pant size!).
Sigh. The kid avatars thing drives me nuts, too, by the way. Hoping you put your uterus pic up! I’ll join you with my chocolate cyst-y ovaries!
March 2, 2008 6:23 am
Wonderful letter. I do hope you make friends again. It is definitely difficult to think kindly of and trust in your body after all the failings.
March 2, 2008 9:29 pm
Great letter (still mulling over what mine should include). And I agree with you about the need to ensure our voices are heard amid the mommy bloggers. Not all women are mommies — some of us will never be mommies, even though we had hoped we would be — but our lives and concerns and thoughts still have value and interest. At least, they should…
March 3, 2008 6:29 am
great letter, powerful and heartbreaking at the same time. I have to ponder mine awhile…
btw, I have a tech blogger friend and even SHE feels overwhelmed by the mommy blogs at blogher (so it’s not just us!)…
March 3, 2008 5:20 pm
What a great letter! Like Loribeth and Luna, I’ll need to go away and think some more about what I would write… but I do think that you’ve captured very beautifully some of my own feelings – in my case, an initial sense of awe and respect has gradually given way to feelings of anger and frustration that my body won’t do what it was seemingly designed to do.
I also couldn’t agree more with your suggestion that ‘woman’ and ‘mother’ are not synonymous. I have the very same issue with the UK site ‘mums.net’.
March 6, 2008 3:46 pm
Thanks for this. It always astonishes me how ready people are to equate having a family with having children. People are always asking me ‘do you have a family?’ I want to reply ‘Do your children have a family?’ Since when did having parents, siblings, cousins and a husband not count as having a family?