“to mom or not to mom” day 4 – the invisibleness of infertility: to pass or not to pass?

It’s Day 4 of the “To Mom or Not to Mom” Open Salon hosted by Keiko of The Infertility Voice and Pamela of Silent Sorority.

Today’s topic: The Invisibleness of Infertility: To Pass or Not to Pass?

Please be sure to read Keiko’s post and Pamela’s post for different takes on the subject and join the discussion on their blogs.

*****

So, I’m a pastor’s wife.  When my DH got his first assignment to a church we had been married 4 months.  The instant we moved to this new church I felt like it was ‘Womb Watch ’08.’  Because that’s what you do as a pastor’s wife, you get knocked up, you sing in the choir, and your volunteer in the nursery or Sunday school classes.  Well, I’m tone-deaf, and while I love other kids, I don’t love new strange kids every week who want their Mom and are pissed that they’ve been left in the nursery.  And I curse too much to teach Sunday School.  So I was pretty much behind the ‘eight ball’ upon arrival at this new church.  And then we got the IF diagnosis.  Strike 3, I was out, ‘project pastor’s wife’ resulted in one big failure after another.

But then I had the BRILLIANT idea to start telling people that we were struggling.  And at first, that seemed like the biggest mistake EVER.  Because you get “those comments.”  You know them all by heart, say them with me now:

“You just need to relax”

“It’ll happen in God’s time”

“I had a friend who was infertile and then she adopted and got pregnant”  (Ok seriously where are all these women I’ve heard about who adopt and then get pregnant?  I’ve yet to meet one.)

But then, I got mad.  And I started speaking up for myself.  Not rudely, but I respectfully started educating people about infertility.  And then I started blogging about it.  And THE RESPONSE.  People came out of the woodwork identifying themselves as fellow IFers.  And the more I talked about it and wrote about it, the more people responded.  Older ladies in my church who had gone through infertility in a time when there were not treatment options and whose eyes still shown with the pain of that struggle, or who would tell me how they still felt the loss of their miscarriage or still birth.

And those connections, they made up for all the insensitive comments I got.  Because each connection, each shared story, was like another link in a chain, showing me I wasn’t alone, and offering me the strength of our common struggles.

So for myself, I have chosen not to “pass.”  And for most of you reading this, you too have chosen to share, even if it is anonymously. You have chosen to share your vulnerabilities, and in doing so have offered me, and countless others, strength and support.  But for those of you possibly reading this who are not “out” who have chosen to “pass” on sharing your infertility story, I get it.  I really get it. I get the shame society assigns to us, especially if there are issues of MFI, because you know damn well once you say “MFI” society jumps to that conclusion.  I get the overwhelming sense of worry and loss you feel from suffering countless failed IUIs/IVFs/miscarriages, and that sometimes that loss rises up so much it feels like it is choking you. And the thought of expressing that grief, opening those flood gates, letting it out and not knowing if you’ll be able to stop, is just unbearable.

I’ll end with one point that Keiko and Pamela made quite well.  There should be absolutely NO shame surrounding issues of infertility.  It is a disease recognized by the World Health Organization and should be accorded no more shame than having diabetes or allergies, which is to say, none.  “To pass or not to pass,” either way my hope is that any person going through the ALI journey feels supported in their choice.  Because IF, it’s hard enough.

*****

Did you choose to “not pass?”  What factors helped you make that decision?

If you blog anonymously, why? And what factors would need to be in place for you to not be anonymous?  (Or would you always feel the need to be anonymous?) 

How do you feel about “Infertility amnesia?”

*****

If you have posted about this topic before, or if you are inspired to talk about it now, please provide the URL of your post  in the comments below, or simply post a comment and share your thoughts with us.

Advertisements

Comments

  1. This is an awesome post, Chandra. Thanks for sharing this part of your story with us ❤

    I'm working on a blog response since I have too much to say to fit here! I'll come back to link it up when I'm finished 🙂

  2. “And those connections, they made up for all the insensitive comments I got. ” Yes, yes, yes!!!! I so wish my offline friend who still struggles with her IF diagnosis would blog and get some of this out. Blogging has helped me feel normal – and normal feels SO GOOD.

    I have never passed on this. I share my story with everyone. EVERYONE. I don’t think my husband loves it – but he’s OK with it as long as I don’t out him as our infertility factor (ha – just outed him again. I love the comments sections for this reason alone!). He now shares our story and struggles too – with perfect strangers. It’s unreal how FREEING it can be. Why do we share? Because if our story helps just one person, one couple, feel normal and not alone – then it’s totally worth it!

    I started my blog out as anon (I abbreviate because I slaughter the spelling every time and I’m too lazy to copy and paste from above) and that lasted a week, maybe? I don’t share our last name, obviously, or B’s first name – but everything else is out there including photos of all three of us. I just feel more authentic blogging under my real name and image. I PWP some posts but only those having to do with our crazy families – none that have to do with US or infertility.

    I don’t undrstand “infertility amnesia,” but I have a friend who has it and she’s a wonderful person who has supported me through thick and thin. It works for her, and I don’t think she lives that way out of self-preservation. She’s a sunny person who likes to put bad things behind her. It’s not for me to understand – I just need to let her be her, and me be me.

    This is an awesome topic. AWESOME! Must post about it tomorrow or over the weekend!

  3. Chandra – this is an amazing post. Made me think a lot about my past. I’ve got so much I want to talk about on this topic I’m going to leave it for a blog post.

  4. I tell everyone Molly is IVF because you never know if someone else could be struggling too.

  5. great post. I choose not to pass more often than not IRL, but I have a hard time sharing IF on FB. there’s something about it that is just too big – but it’s the one place I feel like I should make more of a difference because I know more people than I know about are struggling on there.

  6. Did you choose to “not pass?” — Totally. I’m a thought vomiter by nature though, so maybe that’s part of it? 🙂 I am very open with people about our IF journey, and I have made a lot of connections and educated many others about it.

    What factors helped you make that decision? — Being tired of hearing “when are you going to have kids.” I started just being honest – DUDE, we are TRYING!

    If you blog anonymously, why? — I started out anonymous, but ended up sharing with my Mom after just a few months, and now my siblings and close friends know about it. I’m still anon overall b/c I don’t want my name googlable (EWCM!), but at the same point, I know that many of my followers know my name and location, and that’s fine.

    How do you feel about “Infertility amnesia?” — I get it and I don’t. Some people are able to compartmentalize and leave the past in the past – more power to them, as long as they’re still sensitive to the IFers in the trenches.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Chandra offered up her experiences in The Invisibleness of Infertility: To Pass or Not to Pass? […]

  2. […] by a post by Chandra in PAILbloggers, which was inspired by two other posts by Keiko and Pamela as part of the fourth day of the […]

%d bloggers like this: