My heart goes out to a recent reader who began her comment with the thought that she doesn't belong here (on this blog or in this book) because she had no difficulties getting pregnant. She lost her beautiful daughter at 38 weeks. She is struggling with the recent news of a sister who is pregnant. The reader shared her pregnancy journey with a friend who gave birth to a healthy child--a person who would have been her child's playmate--and needs to navigate that relationship. She is healing. She is mourning. And she belongs here.
We define infertility with broad brushstrokes. It's a diverse community--those who can't get pregnant and those who continuously get pregnant yet miscarry. Those who are rich and can afford fertility treatments and those who need to quit their journey to parenthood due to financial means. Breathing inside this space are those who are using donor insemination, donor eggs, surrogacy, adoption, IVF, IUI, Clomid, or timed intercourse. Everyone is at different points in their journey. There are women who have been trying for 6 months but have the nagging suspicion that something is wrong because their cycles vary each month. And there are the 4 years veterans who have been dealing with 48 BFN and don't know if they have the emotional wherewithal to face number 49.
We are defining infertility as someone who either has difficulties getting pregnant or has difficulties carrying a child to term.
Why this community needs to be inclusive--infertility is hard enough without second-guessing whether or not you belong on its streets. We frown on any level of comparative grieving. There should not be a hierarchy in the different classes of infertility. It is impossible to measure grief and it's not helpful to quantify your grief (I'm mourning my miscarriage. Yeah, well, I'M mourning my stillbirth so my loss trumps yours. Really, well, I'M mourning the fact that I've had four miscarriages so my loss is worse than yours). It doesn't assuage the pain of the other person. I'm not sure what people believe they are accomplishing with this type of comment.
There is a phenomenon that we've noticed--this need to apologize for your grief. This need to diminish your loss by comparing it to the loss of others. To be embarrassed to admit that you cry over a not-yet-child when there are others mourning the loss of a husband or wife that has been in their life for years and years.
I'm guilty of this same kind of thinking. I would cry and then in the same breath admonish myself for crying when there were people who had lost their whole family. What was my pain in comparison to theirs? I would lurk on the message boards and then feel guilty because I had only been trying for ten months, and how could I think that I was worthy to sit at the Infertility Girls Popular Lunch Table when those girls had been trying for three years AND had been through fertility treatments.
You know what--it did nothing to minimize my pain. You can't talk yourself out of mourning. You can be distracted from mourning (and yes, infertility brings with it both literal mourning over the loss of a not-yet-child AND figurative mourning over the loss of how you viewed yourself as a woman/man), but it always has a way of creeping up on you in the dark. Damn those night time monsters under the bed...
Therefore, YOU belong here--and I'm saying this to all of you who have stumbled across this blog and later to all the people who stumble across the book. You have something valuable to add. You have something you need to vent. You have a story that will help others know the best possible way to support another person. Please keep posting in the comments section or writing us directly (firstname.lastname@example.org). If your heart has ever hurt you belong right here.