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Friday, September 15, 2006

The History of Infertility's Common Thread

For anyone who has experienced infertility or who is currently experiencing infertility. For anyone who has suffered through pregnancy loss. For those who have conceived naturally, utilized treatments, adopted, used third-party reproduction, or chose to live child-free: a movement.

It all began when Paz lamented that there should be a secret handshake for those who have experienced or are currently experiencing infertility. She was finally pregnant after multiple miscarriages and she wanted infertile women to know when looking at her pregnant belly that she was one of them still--in heart and mind. She was open to questions and to passing along any information she had obtained along the way.

This led to a lengthy discussion about a signal we could give one another as well as a tangible object that would invite questions and subsequently discussion about infertility. The conversation jumped from idea to idea--a pomegranate-shaped charm, a Livestrong-esque bracelet--until it finally settled on a simple thread.

With the idea being that it was an item that was easy to obtain no matter where you lived. It posed a minimal cost. It could be ornamented or braided any way the wearer chose. It could be sent through the mail. It was simple. It was discreet. We picked the embroidery floss #814 because it was the colour of pomegranates. Which was one of the fertility symbols considered along the way.

Royalyne stepped forward and got the ball rolling with a write up that we tweaked until it became this statement:

Pomegranates, a longstanding symbol of fertility, serve as a strong analogy to those suffering through infertility. Though each pomegranate skin is unique in colour and texture, the seeds inside are remarkably similar from fruit to fruit. Though our diagnosis is unique—endometriosis, low sperm count, luteal phase defect, or causes unknown—the emotions, those seeds on the inside, are the same from person to person. Infertility creates frustration, anger, depression, guilt, and loneliness. Compounding these emotions is the shame that drives people suffering from infertility to retreat into silence.

In addition, the seeds represent the multitude of ways one can build their family: natural conception, treatments, adoption, third-party reproduction, or even choosing to live child-free.

The pomegranate thread holds a two-fold purpose: to identify and create community between those experiencing infertility as well as create a starting point for a conversation. Women pregnant through A.R.T., families created through adoption, or couples trying to conceive during infertility can wear the thread, identifying themselves to others in this silent community. At the same time, the string serves as a gateway to conversations about infertility when people inquire about its purpose. These conversations are imperative if we are ever to remove the social stigma attached to infertility.Tie on the thread because you’re not alone. Wear to make aware.

Join us in starting this conversation about infertility by purchasing this pomegranate-coloured thread (#814 by DMC) at any craft, knitting, or variety store such as Walmart or Target. Tie it on your right wrist. Notice it on others.

Paz also created a write up that people could place on blogs, bulletin boards, and email forwards:

For anyone who has ever had a miscarriage, struggled with pregnancy, and all things infertile...there is a movement upon us that you might want to join. It's rather simple actually: a discreet ribbon on your right wrist to signal to others that they are not alone in their struggles.

As someone who has had 5 m/c but am currently 5 months pregnant (YEAH), I wonder who looks at my big belly with sadness because they are in the month-to-month struggle. I mentioned to a friend that I wished there was some secret nod or international sign as if to say, this belly was hardwon. Well, she posted this quandary on her blog (http://www.stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/) and the response has been quite overwhelming...and a movement has been born!

The pomegranate-colored thread holds a two-fold purpose: to identify and create community between those experiencing infertility as well as create a starting point for a conversation. Women pregnant through any means, natural or A.R.T., families created through adoption or surrogacy, or couples trying to conceive during infertility or secondary infertility can wear the thread, identifying themselves to others in this silent community. At the same time, the string serves as a gateway to conversations about infertility when people inquire about its purpose. These conversations are imperative if we are ever to remove the social stigma attached to infertility.Tie on the thread because you’re not alone. Wear to make aware. Join us in starting this conversation about infertility by purchasingthis pomegranate-coloured thread (#814 by DMC) at any craft, knitting, or variety store such as Walmart or Target. Tie it on your right wrist. Notice it on others. Just thought I would pass the word along!

Lastly, we have a graphic people can add to their side bars in order to get the word out (and create a link to this post or a similar one so people understand what Infertility's Common Thread is about). Feel free to take and place on your blog or create your own in order to get the word out to others:

http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/4171/3241/200/Thread.2.jpg

and please add a link back to this post: http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/2006/09/history-of-infertilitys-common-thread.html.

Read more about the brainstorming that went on to create Infertility's Common Thread and the many people who brought it to fruition through comments, discussion, and write-ups:
The Secret Handshake
Raise Your Right Hand
Operation Pomegranate
Common Thread Project

63 comments:

Suzi said...

This is such a wonderful idea.. I went out today and bought my 814 and made myself a bracelet, and two more for friends also...
xx

Gallifrey said...

It is just good to know you are not alone, and although you are suffering it needn't be in silence. Thanks to Ams for passing this on to me, so I am now going to passit on to others

Anonymous said...

I am going to post this to a group - I hope you don't mind. This is a wonderful idea.

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea! I will be posting it on my board that I co host if you dont mind!!

The Town Criers said...

Post, post away! Tell everyone you know, send it out through listservs, post it on bulletin boards and through support groups. It's only going to work if everyone knows. They can either wear the string if they want to be open to letting others know. Or, at the very least, they can recognize the string on others and start a conversation.

CarolineO said...

What a fantastic idea! I'll be 44 in 2 weeks time and feel that time has run out after 20 years of ttc, but I will wear me dmc bracelet with pride. Thank you for such a great idea.

Vacant Uterus said...

What an awesome idea! I'll be doing this right away and posting on my blog for others to join.

gotrocks said...

This is such a great idea! I will get mine tomorrow and spread the word to all I know. Thanks

Anonymous said...

Terrific idea!
We would like to help you spread the word. My co-author and I wrote "IVF: The Wayward Stork" and I would be honored to add this to our website www.thewaywardstork.com. In November, we will be traveling to various fertility clinics in the northeast for speaking engagements and book signings. You can count on us to have our fertility threads on!
Additionally, I co-manage an infertility website on MSN with over 500 members, I will be sure to add this to that site as well.

Anonymous said...

Another idea could be these types...that way they can last longer. http://www.band-together.com/

Anonymous said...

I struggled for years anf finally after 3 IVF's, i have my miracle... i am buying this thread tomorrow and i hope many others do the same!
xoxo

Kimberly Chapman said...

Awesome idea! I'm going to post the graphic and link on my LiveJournal's info page, plus poke through my floss to see if I have the right colour. If not, I'll pick some up in the next week or two and make a quickie little bracelet to wear.

I have one daughter, born one year and one day ago, after five years and $25,000 of infertility treatments. I've always worked very hard to express my joy in a way that is respectful to those who haven't yet succeeded in TTC.

This is a really, really good way to do that! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow what a great idea. I have thought the same thought when I was pregnant that "there is hope, don't give up, this is a hard won belly" I just had my 5th m/c and am still trying for another babe. On my way to the craft store!

Miriam said...

Wonderful idea! I am always very open about my IF so that others will know that miracles can hapen. My 3 girls attest to that!!!

kiwi said...

This is a wonderful idea. I talked about it on my blog, to reach out to french speaking women too.

Thank you.

Ciao Baby said...

I think that this is a fabulous idea. One concern though...after looking at the thread color online (not always accurate), I kinda worry that it will look like we are all wearing the popular red Kabbalah string. Does the thread look a different color in person? Thoughts? Thanks.

Lisa said...

This is a great idea, and I've already bought my string. I also posted about it on my blog (http://myvasectomyreversal.com) and mentioned it in a few online communities I'm a part of. Thanks for making it happen!

The Town Criers said...

Lisa--I've been trying to leave you a message at my vasectomy reversal, but it wouldn't let me leave a comment or send you an email. Just wanted to thank you for posting this.

Cibele said...

what a great idea. I am going to buy mine tomorror and try o start this movemente here in Brazil too

Anonymous said...

It is nice to know that we are not alone. It is difficult to see others that are blessed with children and feel like you are completely isolated and alone in your struggles with infertility. This bracelet will be a great comfort to me knowing that others share and have overcome the issues I fight everyday! I will purchase my 814 tomorrow.

Laura said...

what a wonderful idea! I had three miscarriages, but still have been blessed with five children. I still mourn the three I lost.

Beagle said...

What a great idea!

Anonymous said...

Did you know that a red thread on one's wrist is a sign of being a follower of Kabbalah? (namely, the cultish Kabbalah Center) See:

http://www.cultnews.com/?p=2162

cluttergirl said...

HI, I just looked up the color of DMC #814, and it says Dark Garnet http://www.amazon.com/DMC-Floss-814-Dark/dp/B0001DTHNW instead of pomegranite. Is this right?? thanks.

Anonymous said...

I wondered too, if the red bracelet could be mistaken for a Kabbalah bracelet. But I have a thought, in order to differentiate this from the infamous "red string," maybe I will add four beads to my bracelet, one for each of my two children and my two angels, in the colors of their birthstones.

The Town Criers said...

Anonymous--that's a great idea--and one that honours your children as well. A lot of people are doing things to make it their own--knoting it into "friendship" bracelets, adding charms, wrapping it multiple times.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that the Babycenter Canada Grief & Loss Board (www.babycenter.ca) is distributing the bracelets to our community. This is a wonderful idea and I am proud to be wearing my bracelet.
Thank you so much...
Marianne - Grief & Loss Board Moderator

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
amy said...

It's a fantastic idea and looks like it's starting to become a campaign. I'm looking for something postive to do with my baby-making energy while we wait to start our next cycle. I was thinking I could use my web skills to create a simple web page with the message from paz and the symbol, and then optimize it so it ranks really high in the search engines. could even allow google ads on it and funnel any proceeds back into paid seach. however, I don't want to step on any toes, or duplicate work someone else may be doing that's closer to the originators of the idea - please let me know what you think?

The Town Criers said...

Hey, Amy--you didn't leave a way to write back :-) Why don't you send a note to my email (thetowncriers@gmail.com) and we can talk about the website.

Anna said...

I'm adding the string to my blog today. What a great idea. After 4 long years of pain, procedures and loss, I have finally crossed over to the other side and have a precious baby boy. But I find that the old pain is still with me, particularly since I want and cannot have another child.

Kelly said...

Just wanted to let everyone know that I picked up my floss today, and I also found (at Michaels) some beads that look like pomegranate seeds in size, shape and color!! I incorporated them into my bracelet, and if others want to do the same, they are Halcraft 6x10mm Ruby glass twist beads.

nat said...

This is brilliant guys!!Does anyone know where I can get this thread in Vancouver Canada? Email me at nataliekwest@hotmail.com cuz I'd love to get this for me and my three other infertile myrtle friends.

oimiloy said...

I'm so glad i came accross this. Can I please modify your icon to make it fit the avatar guidelines for a forum that i am a mod of?

I'm an Australian and will tell all my friends, let's make this a world wide symbol.

thanks

Rick -Proud Husband- said...

I have never been so proud of My wife Royal on the article Operation Pomegranate. She is truly an inspiration to all the Women,Men, and couples who are suffering thru infertility and all things associated with it. I can only say that i will wear the bracelet with pride knowing that it bears true emotion and stands for a purpose that I am willing to fight for. A cure to infertility, A stand against insurance companies that have no compassion and a statement to those who dont understand that infertility is real it is not something we can just let happen without taking a stand for our bodies, our lives, our marriages, and above all for children the greatest miracle on earth. Me and my wife have struggled for a long time, we have gone thru treatments, and i truly never understood, We lost a child and it devastated us and grieves me to this day. I will wear that bracelet as a reminder everyday that I too suffer from infertility along with my wife and will do what is necessary to have a Child Stand by my wife and to better understand and to try and help others understand and cope.
My wife is my hero and all of you who struggle with infertility remind me everyday now that you are all heroes in all the things you do.

Sara said...

I am sitting here crying- you guys are awesome- I have thought so many times horrible names when I see big pregnant bellies- because I am jealous that I don't have one- but then I feel bad, because I don't know how hard they had to try to get theirs- I will be making and proudly wearing my bracelet- mine will have a ribbon as well for my 3 m/c- maybe one day I too will be proudly wearing a big fat pregnant belly too. Thanks for the great idea- I think infertility issues need to be brought out and not hidden away like they are....it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Anonymous said...

My name is Jamie and we are on the third year of pain and sorrow associated with 6 losses. This is fabulous and I truly hope that Resolve and other similar organizations will pick this up and run with it. I am always surprised at the number of women/men suffering as I do online but don't see most talk about it in reality. I will be out tomorrow to pick up floss and beads for myself and the others I know who have suffered. Thank you!

Keri said...

At the age of 16 when I had my first miscarriage I was told that I would never be able to have children! I would be able to get pregnant but not carry them to term! The doctor said I had an issue with my uterus and cervix! His recomendation for me at 16 so I wouldn't suffer anymore was to have a hysterectamy(sp?) My parents and I discussed it and decided against it that I was to young!! Since that first M/C I had 2 more m/c's and then my son one of the m/c was a twin after my son I had 2 more m/c and I know have a beautiful little girl. This past march I found out I was pregnant again only to find out less than a week later that the baby was Ectopic, after having surgery to remove the baby I was distraught and I kept thinking to myself why do I keep putting myself through this? And then I see my children and think that is why to have the beautiful faces of angels look up to me and love me unconditionally! I always wanted children and a lot of them and I will keep trying until the day I hit menapause My husband and I will begin trying again as soon as he returns from deployment!!!! The idea and the thought process behind these bracelets is incredible and such a great way to pass on valuble information!!! Thank you!!!

Barbara said...

I struggled with 12 years of infertility and had my twins 10 years ago. Despite my being disabled, being a mother has made my life worth something ago.

Polka Dot said...

Here it is, almost a year after the blog, and I'm just now finding this post. I'll be going out in the next couple of days and getting a few to make a bracelet of my own.

archaeogirl said...

Over a year has passed since the original idea and I'm just now finding this post. Is it still spreading? Are there other websites? How many women are wearing these common threads?

I'll be getting mine tomorrow, so the movement's still growing by at least one... when ttc after miscarriage, anything that feels like action helps.

Best of luck to all.

Monica said...

This is just spectacular! After five long years of meds, IUIs, IVFs and m/cs, we finally have our family. I've found, however, that the old wounds are always still there...always just below the surface. And I worry that the sight of me rolling through the mall with my multiples in tow could cause the same level of intense pain that I once felt. This is an amazing idea. I'm going to buy my 814! Thank you for caring enough to come up with this.

JackiJaguar said...

This is one of the most supportive, kindest gestures I've ever seen. I love it and can't wait to share it with others who are also struggling with IF. Thanks...

chrysallys said...

This is such a wonderful idea, though I know I am coming to it late. I've been wearing my bracelet for almost a week now.

I also made a couple graphics, one blinkie and one not, to share if people are interested.

http://i25.tinypic.com/t9wjti.jpg

http://i29.tinypic.com/2dr6gq9.jpg

felicity said...

It's a wonderful idea but I think it will be confused with Kabbalah bracelets. Maybe it should be two blue threads, for two blue lines. I am just launching into this world and reading a lot online, and there is a whole vocabulary that has evolved that is special to this situation. Something that says 2ww or OPK or TTC would send the secret message as well.

emilythehopeless said...

got mine this week.. posted about it: http://emilythehopeless.wordpress.com/2008/06/20/814/

really great idea.. i love knowing there are other women out there with 814's like me..

BarnStar said...

Just wanted to let you know that the word is still getting out about this. I m/c'ed in Jan. 08 and considered making a bracelet then. I just had my second m/c in June 08 and I finally made a bracelet tonight. You can check out the pics here: http://i28.tinypic.com/rwjc5v.jpg and http://i28.tinypic.com/w15klh.jpg. One bead for each pregnancy I lost, and a heart clasp for the love I have for the babies I'll never know! Thanks for this awesome idea!

Busy Momma said...

i am in tears. this is such a great idea. I will definately post this on my blog, my facebook, and anywhere else I can think of.
big hugs to everyone out there still trying for a child of their own.

Anonymous said...

Today is July 17, 2008. Almost two years after the original message, and word is getting out still about this movement. I think I'll make a few. I lost a child when I was 16. I have a sister-in-law who miscarried before her BFP that stuck. Also have a friend who m/c and then (after 2 healthy boys) lost a son at 8 months gestation. I think I'll make them with charms or beads, to signify their losses.

The Infertility Diaries said...

I am going out to buy it today :D I just started blogging about my infertility and it is great to know I am not alone in this. I will link it to my blog and help spread the word!!!! THANKS :D

Sarah said...

I am just amazed. And I am SO glad I found your blog! So, so glad.

Rachel said...

i am thrilled to add the button to my page and pass the word around!!!

how encouraging!! I lost my little one last year at birth and have yet to get pregnant....Ive got all sorts of fun internal problems that make it a skim chance... i keep praying.. and Im so excited to be a foster mommy for now!!

Anonymous said...

I have found this page 2 years after it's original post and will be proud to wear my bracelet!! I think I'll go out on lunch today to buy my thread!

Hang in there women - united, we stand strong :)

And to the women who started this movement - KUDOS!

Anonymous said...

I just found out about this too- two years after it was first posted. I will DEFINITELY share it with other dealing with infertility!

I've been struggling with infertility for 2 years (hardly any time compared to some others, but still a significant feat) and also have severe endometriosis with a blocked tube, adhesions and suffer all of the physical, emotional, and financial pains these things come with. When I see a pregnant woman in public, I admit I am jealous, and then quickly remind myself that she could have been suffering like me at one point. Not always though.

I think this Pomegranate Thread is a wonderful idea! I was thinking that we needed a bracelet or ribbon of some sort to promote infertility awareness, but this "secret handshake" will do for now. I understand not all infertility patients want to announce to the world what they're going through but seeing another infertile person with the Pomegranate Thread is enough to make me think twice. What you see on their right wrist stands for more than words could ever explain. Starting a conversation would be great, but the thread alone is worth a thousand words.

The Kabbalah thing also came to mind when I read that it was similar in color, but reading further, this Pomegranate Thread can be worn braided, or decorated in various ways, not necessarily just a single piece of thread. I thought about twisting two strands to signify my two years, but I'm afraid it will still look too thin and too similar to a Kabbalah string. I may have to make knots or add beads like someone mentioned or charms instead onto a thicker, almost rope-like bracelet. For those that want words like TTC or something similar, you can get beads with the letters on them and incorporate them into your bracelet.

Again, thanks for starting this and I'll pass it on!

The Pifer's said...

I love this blog!!!!! I found this from another fellow blogger!!!!

Lynn and Mike said...

Great blog! Just what I needed today!

Anonymous said...

So happy to have found this site-I hope this movement continues, my loneliness feels more diluted...I too will wear the thread.

Sarang said...

The pomegranate thread is going strong in San Francisco...we have a large group of women who wear their bracelets and continue to pass them on...thank you for this symbol of hope and understanding.

Mrs.Tiye said...

I love this! Adding it to my blog!

J said...

Love this too and just added it to my own blog.... I'll be heading to AC Moore after work to grab some 814 for a bracelet for me, and one for a coworker who just had her first IVF baby :)

Abbee said...

I, too, just want to say thanx. I loved this idea from the minute I read about it. I have made several bracelets for myself & friends that I know affected by IF. I wore mine for the first time last night to a function with friends. Of course there were lots of kids, a few babies & even a close friend that is 8 months pregnant. Even though I was beginning to be hopeful with the start of our first IVF cycle, it was still very difficult to see her huge belly. Any time that I felt sad or became tearful I would touch my thread and remind myself that I was not alone. I finally felt like I "knew" people that understaood me (even though none were physically in my presence) and it helped. I will be trying to spread this idea in my area to help others who feel like I...like we do. :0)

tamberlee said...

I LOVE this site! Or should I say this BLOG! I have been through so much--surgery, 4 m/c's, emotional pain, etc.--and absolutely love the idea of having this bracelet. I am going to buy the things needed to create my own. It will probably have something for representation of my unsuccessful pregnancies. I am 27 and not giving up! =)

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