featured post: “never going back again” by arch mama

What does it mean to heal from infertility?

This week, we’re featuring a post by Arch Mama, who has a unique ability to put a complex issue into just the right words to make it click. That’s what her post “Never Going Back Again” did for me. I’ve been thinking around a topic for a week and knew what my thoughts were, but not what the topic was. Turns out it was healing, and how I plan to manage healing from IF when I haven’t yet finished building my family, or while I’m still knee-deep in this community. I know how to avoid the rain by staying indoors in a storm; I’ve not yet figured out how to hold my umbrella at just the right angle to keep my legs and feet dry when the wind picks up.

It’s something I wrote about in a post syndicated over at BlogHer and something I mentioned in my contribution for PAIL’s vlogoversary: we, as individuals and as a community, sometimes do ourselves a serious injustice, unintentionally and otherwise, by sabotaging our paths to healing. We forsake healthy boundaries and repeatedly expose ourselves to trauma. And we guilt and judge others… who try to find new footing beyond their infertility.

An excellent question pops out from between the lines in this paragraph: how can we move on when we’re still right here? More specifically, how can someone manage the delicate balance of personal growth and momentum toward healing while remaining steeped in advocacy and dedication to one’s personal history with infertility and loss? And on the flip side, if someone chooses to move on from an infertility blog, to cut the majority of her blog reading list, to shut down her blog entirely and walk away, is she a deserter to the sisterhood and to her own personal history? Is it possible to spare oneself and not “repeatedly expose ourselves to trauma” while making an active and conscious decision to remain knee-deep in a world built around the very notion that infertility is ongoing and seeps into the experience of parenthood?

Forgetting infertility would mean forsaking something incredibly sacred to me: my journey to motherhood. It would degrade the very inestimable meaning of my parenthood experience.

My point in all of this: Some of us aren’t repressing our infertility experience as a coping mechanism; we’re healing. We’re not IF deserters; we’re healing. There is a distinction, and it should be acknowledged and respected.

This post is a two-parter. Normally we shut down comments to encourage our readers to head straight to the post we’re featuring and leave comments there. Today, we’d like to ask you to visit Arch Mama and read her full post “Never Going Back Again” (and if you can, play the song while reading it– trust me). The post in full is a real eye-opener and may set a blog post in motion for you like it did for me (that draft may be sitting for a few days while I try to process). We’d also like to invite you to comment below and share some of your thoughts on these questions inspired by Arch Mama’s post:

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Where are you in the path towards healing?

What is helping you to get there? What is holding you back?

What role does infertility play in your identity, and how actively do you participate in that part of your identity?

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Share. Visit. Read. Comment. Support.

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Comments

  1. My point in all of this: Some of us aren’t repressing our infertility experience as a coping mechanism; we’re healing. We’re not IF deserters; we’re healing. There is a distinction, and it should be acknowledged and respected.

    That is the best sentence ever to sum up pregnancy and parenting after infertility.

  2. I feel like it’s important to distinguish between childlessness and infertility. Mali (who has a lovely blog about being child free that I’ve lost the url to) pointed this out in the comments elsewhere in blog-land recently-ish. Infertility is a medical condition with a host of causes, some of which alter our lives and health forever. Infertility causes childlessness. When the latter is overcome through birth, adoption, or choosing to be child free, that disease doesn’t go away. For me, the emotional healing is from the experience of childlessness and the fear of it as well. I think one reason I mostly/exclusively follow blogs of folks who are in a similar place as me in building a family is to avoid traumas that are beyond my capacity to cope with. I choose to limit the number of blogs I follow too so I can be blog buddies rather than just an observer (generally). I think that really successful advocates move on from reliving their traumas to sharing some parts as part of advocacy and it’s a struggle in the ALI community because of the deeply emotional nature of the experience.

  3. I have grown MUCH more comfortable over the past couple of years with my identity as someone who has struggled with Infertility. Being able to help others who find themselves struggling with similar issues has hands down been the best part of this shitty experience. Even beyond blog land, I’ve had multiple IRL people approach me in the past few months to confide that they are having ALI issues and need help – and to ask for my advice on what to do next. It feels GOOD to be able to give them advice, reassurance, and hope, and that has been a big part of the healing process for me – helping others. I get that not all people are comfortable doing that though, and that’s okay. Also, I don’t identify myself primarily as an IFer parent anymore, and that’s been a huge mind-shift for me. Now I’m a parent who has struggled with IF. There’s a difference…a subtle, healing difference…and that feels good.

  4. OMG thank you for sharing this because it did not show up in my reader and missing a post from AM makes me sad!

    I feel like I’m getting close to getting to a place of healing, if I’m not 100% there already. I’m really, really close. B mentioned someone being pregnant just yesterday and i hadn’t heard yet, and my heart was FILLED with joy for them. I was so excited for these people, and that would not have happened a couple months ago. Sad, but true.

    I think what’s getting me to a place of peace is possibly being done building our family. We may try for a third, but I’m treating this pregnancy like my last because it easily could be (not sure about the embryos we have left…), and I’m enjoying it a great deal. I feel good knowing that this could easily be the end of my 4+ year struggle. It’s time to move on. It’s time to heal.

    There is a part of me that will always identify with the IF world, but it will get less and less painful as time goes on. It already has.

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  1. […] a post by Arch Mama about infertility, sharing our stories, and healing. It’s a poignant and powerful post, so […]

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