Barren, Not Beaten


When I started this blog nearly two years ago I was in a world of hurt. Not just your ordinary owie or gosh, darn I’m disappointed. I’m talking the World Series of Hurt.

caged lionessThink caged lioness. I was ready to attack out of a primal sense of loss. My world was black. I harbored all sorts of ill will against those who conceived effortlessly. Behind my frozen in place smile my mind raced with angry thoughts. If you could have read my thought bubbles, well, let’s just say they were not pretty. The injustice of infertility consumed me body and soul.

I raged at the casual dismissal of my childless state. I wanted everyone else to hurt as much as me. If they could have lived a day inside my broken heart I was convinced they’d finally understand the pain of infertility. The hole in my heart felt like a black hole. It’s said that black holes are stars that collapse into themselves. That about describes infertility. My black hole was once the star that held the promise of my children. It became a place or thing into which dreams disappeared, not expected to be seen again. That just begins to describe the magnitude.

Today? Well I’m in a different, better place. Is the hurt still there? Yes. Do I still want to land a left hook when I hear a careless remark slung without any sense of understanding from a smug mom or dad? You betcha!

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Why do I keep writing about this topic? I feel an obligation. When I see a cluster of girls and boys who might one day face the dreaded diagnosis I see an opportunity to convert my anger and loss into something more productive. I’d like to think that by standing up and speaking out that maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a day when infertility is seen as something more than a self-inflicted Western condition. (Try explaining that to a woman in Africa or Indonesia who can’t conceive).

I’m also branching out with my writing. I’m contributing a column called Barren, Not Beaten on a website looking to bring women together to sort out the confusing and often misleading information about fertility.

I think of myself as a senior helping out the incoming class of freshman. I want them to know that while infertility is scary and confusing they’re not alone with their complex emotions and worries.


19 Responses

  1. Infertility Warrior

    January 21, 2009 8:55 pm

    It is hard to describe the feelings associated with infertility, but you have done a really good job with this post. For infertiles with loving and supportive partners, try hard to be grateful for that at least. I did not have this, during infertility with my ex-fiance. Now alone on this infertility journey I not only envy the fertile but the infertile with loving partners. I will add though, for any infertiles with lousy partners, it is easier, emotionally, to go through treatments alone than with a moody, unsupportive partner.

  2. Phoebe

    January 21, 2009 8:58 pm

    Nothing like channeling all that energy from your anger. I usually get depressed because I stuff the anger. Blogging has been a creative outlet for me.

    I think you are a really important voice on the internet. There are plenty of women out there who are struggling to define themselves after they discover that having children is not an option for them.

    BTW, commented on your new site. The commenting is a little awkward because it requires you to preview your comment before submitting it. Too many clicks IMO.

  3. Iota

    January 22, 2009 1:28 am

    Good for you. I think you have made a very productive contribution to the subject, and this is a new outlet for your talents and commitment.

  4. monica lemoine

    January 22, 2009 2:21 am

    I think it’s great what you’re doing Pamela. You are providing a service, as you said, to “incoming freshman.” Sometimes what helps the most is some reassurance from the higher-ups like you.

  5. luna

    January 22, 2009 7:32 am

    love your description. as usual, eloquent and thought provoking. I agree you are providing such an incredible service, not just to educate the incoming, but to enlighten the unaware.

  6. sherylhs

    January 22, 2009 1:14 pm

    PJ and all those who blog here, I need to send you a great big THANK YOU today. I feel like I’m in the exact same place as PJ – a senior who is moving on after finally realizing I will never conceive. It’s so interesting that we don’t always get what we want (to bear children), but we often get what we need – a support group like this who shares wisdom, experiences and who actually empathizes!! I do believe that similar scenarios follow all types of loss, nonetheless, our experiences are somewhat unique. Society does not support us nor are we likely to find any real compassion or understanding of our plight OUTSIDE OF EACH OTHER. That’s why I’m so grateful to PJ and to all of you who visit and post here. I went from feeling totally alone in the world to feeling completely normal! Your shared experiences and your shared feelings have completely validated my own. You’ve given me exactly what I need — and what my extended family and some friends could and have not — understanding, compassion and wisdom. THANK YOU!

    • Pamela Jeanne

      January 22, 2009 3:30 pm

      Your comment made my day … so very glad that you and other readers have found empathy and understanding here. It’s exactly what I hoped would happen when I first tiptoed into the blogosphere.

  7. Cindy

    January 22, 2009 3:46 pm

    Why do you keep writing about this topic? Because you are a lantern bearer bringing light to those who are still traversing the dark valley of infertility. I am beyond trying to have our own children (a hysterectomy making that a pretty clear conclusion). But I am still working through the all of the emotions. I can’t put words to them myself, but you have been able to and that is a tremendous help to me. I absolutely love the first three paragraphs of this post. They are a perfect description of my feelings, especially the black hole imagery.

  8. lady macleod

    January 22, 2009 5:00 pm

    Not only am I pleased (beyond words) that your hurt has found as a purpose to help others and thereby ease it for you but you are an education to those of us who had “no idea” and we are grateful. Your message does need to be out there for those with the problem but as well for those who have no bloody idea there IS a problem. Proud of you my friend.

  9. loribeth

    January 23, 2009 3:04 am

    I can’t think of a more authoritative voice on this subject than yours! & I hope those incoming freshmen realize how lucky they are to have someone like you showing them the way! 🙂

  10. Sassymama

    January 23, 2009 6:25 pm

    I think it is fabulous that you will be on Fertility Authority. Your voice within the infertility community is invaluable and I have no doubt that you will help many couples who find you through your new site. Congratulations!

  11. Rachel

    January 23, 2009 8:28 pm

    “My black hole was once the star that held the promise of my children.”

    That’s got to be one of the most elegant phrases I’ve ever read on any of these blogs. Well said.

    A+ on the drawing on the next post.

  12. Bea

    January 25, 2009 11:17 am

    Congrats on the new job! Two very well written posts. I think it’s great that there is a senior in the room ready to lend a helping hand.


  13. Ms Heathen

    January 29, 2009 10:32 am

    “It’s said that black holes are stars that collapse into themselves. That about describes infertility.”

    That has to be one of the most moving and eloquent descriptions of IF that I’ve ever read.

    Congratulations on your new column, Pamela Jeanne. Yours is an incredibly important voice which deserves to reach a wider audience.

  14. Maritza

    February 4, 2009 7:05 am

    Whenever I try to recall a blog with the message “victory over infertility” or “hope after infertility” your blog is first to come to mind. Please keep up the excellent work you do and being the much needed and rare voice that you are.

  15. Me

    February 18, 2009 7:09 pm

    I just now finally got around to checking out your column over there while I was eating my leftover pork for lunch at my desk… Very nice opening piece!!!

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