The calendar doesn’t lie. It’s my two year blogoversary. A pomegranate-infused martini or other adult beverage anyone? I’m pouring.
So…hundreds of posts, a book manuscript, a BlogHer panel, a New York Times feature article and thousands of your comments later, I ask: am I a dreamer or a masochist ?
Why? The subject of Coming2Terms has hardly been light reading at times though I have at other times shown there’s plenty of opportunity for black humor where infertility is concerned. Where have we been the past two years? Well — let’s just say we’ve been all over the map — we’ve been to denial, sad land, angry alley, melancholy valley, and to the mountain top when I knew I touched a heart or helped a fellow infertile. But there’s still so much work to do.
That’s clear when I periodically check in on the new comments logged in response to the article that revealed my infertility (and its struggles) to the world. While it ran last June in the New York Times, this being the Internet age, it lives on 24×7 and has something of a Ground Hog’s day effect.
When the article and (my picture, see left, as I review edits on my manuscript) first turned up on the New York Times homepage, my world turned upside down. I thought I had prepared myself for the response, but as with anything deeply personal it’s one thing to think you’re prepared and another to actually live it.
On the plus side, I was overwhelmed with the kindness and fellowship of those who had either experienced infertility or knew and empathized with someone who had. There were those who didn’t fully appreciate the difficulty and acknowledged they had more to learn. Then there were those who, like the Grinch, had hearts so small that they couldn’t be bothered to take the time to even try to empathize. I always feared there was a subset of society who passed judgment on those who struggled with infertility but kept it themselves.
In a masochistic sense I wanted them to “out” themselves to surface some of the smoldering hostility I sensed around this topic but couldn’t prove. This article was the flint used to ignite the flames of intolerance. More than half of the commenters weren’t at all shy about revealing their true sentiments. And it was worse than I ever imagined.
Feeling the intense heat at a primal level, I’ve wondered more than once since then why I started this blog, why I felt compelled to devote a few years writing a book about the experience of living in the shadow of failed treatments. And then I saw, recently, comments left this fall on the NYT site from Essie:
“Here’s the thing: This is a medical issue. It is not just a matter
of drinking a glass of wine and relaxing. It is not that we just needed
to go on vacation or that we needed to stop wanting it so badly. It is
not a character flaw, it is a physical impossibility.
Though most people in my life offered solid support, I always feared
that some of them thought the things so many have written here.
I told myself that people aren’t really that callous or, frankly,
stupid to think these things about infertile people.
I wish I could use expletives here and still have my comment posted.
But I can’t, so I will close with this: If you have not personally
experienced infertility, you have not earned the right to spew your
disgust and hateful opinions on people who have. You simply do not know
what you are talking about.”
And this from Moved On:
“I had a problem with infertility which resulted in divorce. My
husband did not want to adopt. He wanted biological children and I was
unable to perform to his expectation. Frankly, my heart was broken and
my life devastated by this loss. This was on top of years of
miscarriages and infertility treatment which had left me physically
depleted and somewhat depressed. I lived in a rural area and had no one to talk to who understood.
After my divorce, I moved, went on to establish a fairly successful
professional career and adopted two beautiful daughters as a single
parent. Several years of therapy helped me to deal with the lost
marital relationship. To anyone looking at me from the outside, I have
However, to be perfectly honest, I have scars from those years
that I still deal with every day…if you have never had a limb amputated, you cannot understand the
feelings of the person who has experienced this loss. If you have never
experienced the death of a child, you cannot tell the parents you
understand how they feel. Likewise, those who have not experienced the
loss and pain associated with infertility are simply unable to
understand and speak to the issue.”
These are just two examples of what propels me forward with Coming2Terms. I have accepted, reluctantly and with much effort, my infertile state. My legacy may not involve children, but I hope together — with you, my readers — we can lead society to a more understanding place. This journey is not over.
Now, who needs a refill? Today I want to dream big…