Monday, March 11, 2013

Your Story Matters...And Mine Does Too

Not too long ago I wrote a piece about how infertility and it's methods of treatment are seen by many as a failure. If you can't have children "naturally", you have somehow failed and utilizing IVF or adoption in order to become a parent is implied to be some sort of consolation prize. It's even worse if you decide to resolve your infertility by living life child-free. I have long-believed that this is simply not true and despite how difficult and heartbreaking infertility can be, it doesn't mean that we have failed in any way. In my article and related blog post, I specifically discussed the sentiment that my needing IVF and FET to have a child is some sort of undesirable extreme to be pitied. I just don't feel that way and I wanted to write a piece that expressed how proud I am of what I have experienced. Like all of my writing it was from the heart and based solely on my own experiences. (you can find the post I'm referring to here)

I was proud of that piece and the impact it had on those that chose to share their thoughts with me. It is no secret that my favorite part of blogging my infertility journey has been the experience of being a part of the online infertile community. I have spent years praising the loving, supportive people I have met here and I still have unending gratitude to all of you for keeping me from going off the deep end. The infertility community I found online has been my safe place, the place where I can share my thoughts and feelings on this struggle and be understood and treated with compassion. But now that I am a mom, some of that has started to change. 

The piece I brought up earlier is one of my most emotional and complex. I put myself out there but I felt safe doing it because I trusted that the IF community would respond with love and understanding. Which is why when I witnessed passive aggressive feedback through a third party, implying that my struggle was too easy I was completely floored. It seems that my voice on the issue matters a little bit less to some because IVF worked for me and it doesn't work for everyone or because I was able to find a way to finance my treatment while there are many who are unable to do so. So basically, I am not "infertile enough" now that I am a mother. Last time I checked, infertility wasn't a contest with the biggest winner being the one who has endured the most pain. Since I *only* endured 3 years of heartbreaking infertility, one IVF, one miscarriage, one FET before becoming a mother does that mean my feelings are less significant than someone that has been struggling 10 years or someone that has had several losses? Would my experiences matter more if I had undergone a dozen ART procedures before becoming a parent? Or does being a parent at all, no matter how long and arduous the journey to get here, preclude me from ever again identifying as infertile and having feelings on the matter?

I always try to include many other possible paths through infertility in my writing, but having only experienced my own path and no one else's, I focus on IVF and FET as that is what my story entails. I do my best to be considerate and inclusive toward others' experiences but in the end I can only understand so much of what someone else has been or is currently going through and I have never claimed to know what it's like to live anyone's story but my own. The best I can do is be here for you, to let you know I care and allow you to be heard. When you experience victories, I will cheer with you and when you encounter heartbreak, I will mourn with you. We don't have to have the same experiences, or the same opinions or even the same emotions for me to care about you, to see your journey as worth caring about, your story as worth hearing. Isn't that what this community should always be? We all face enough thoughtlessness in the world without hoisting it on each other. 

I know it's hard sometimes encountering any parent, whether they are infertile or not. People with kids are who we want to be and sometimes seeing them, hearing what they have to say, is a painful reminder that we are not one of them. I know, I felt that way too. So if you need to turn away from my blog, my story, my journey because it hurts a little too much. I understand. I don't blame you for doing what you need to do to protect your heart. But if you do encounter me now and then, please remember to be kind. Just because I have a child, it does not mean my wounds are healed. Even if they were, nether of us benefit from judging the other or minimizing and discounting each other. My story matters and so does yours.