The Daily News

LFCA Latest Issue: Friday, September 25, 2009.

Latest Post on BlogHer: Parenting after Infertility.

My Status: Fed Josh's almonds to the squirrels. They needed them very badly.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Naked and Crying (Children Mentioned)

We went out to Ben and Jerry's for an ice cream cone this afternoon (and not to bitch, but my daughter ordered a kid-sized cone and I ordered a medium-sized cone and her's was twice the size of mine. But I felt childish going back into the store and whining, "you gave my daughter more than me. That's not faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaair."). My son likes ice cream and picks at it very neatly (always in a cup). My daughter loves ice cream, loves getting it on her face and hands, loves narrating the entire cone experience.

Afterwards, I was not letting her back in the car in her sticky little dress so I had her stand on her chair while I took off her clothes and searched the diaper bag for a clean shirt. "I'm naked," she exclaimed to everyone walking past. "I'm a naked Tallulah bird." Which is a reference to one of her favourite Maisy books where her friend, Tallulah, enters her house, runs up her stairs, strips, and jumps into the bathtub. It's an amusing tale that child and adult can enjoy on so many different levels.

She danced on the chair telling one and all, "it's nice to be naked. I'm naked. Mommy, get naked." I explained to her that once you're old, no one wants to see you naked in public. And it's actually a crime. Which I know because police once came when I was sunbathing topless up in my old state of Massachusetts.

We're finally ready to leave, with my daughter dressed in one of her brother's shirts and no pants (which she also has to call out to everyone as we walk past--"no pants! I'm not wearing pants!"), we had to walk past a couple about our age sitting at an outdoor table at a nearby restaurant. The woman watched us walking towards her, with my daughter chirping loudly about her pantslessness. She watched us for the entire walk to our car, not speaking to her husband. I tried to shake my wrist a bit, show her the pomegranate-coloured string, but I'm sure she just thought I had a nervous twitch. Regardless, she wasn't watching me. She was watching my kids.

And then we got into the car and I saw her bring her head close in to her husband's forehead. And she started to cry. And I felt like ass even though (1) I had been there and knew how she felt, (2) I was back in that infertile space again, and (3) I cannot hide my kids waiting for the entire world to not be infertile.

Brad Pitt (this is becoming quite the celebrity site) recently said that he wasn't going to marry Angelina Jolie until everyone had the same right to marriage. And I would love to say something similar. I'm not going to bring my kids out in public until every stirrup queen has access to fertility treatments or adoption. But even having access isn't enough. Having access doesn't mean the problem is solved. It just means the financial headache goes away. It still isn't a guarantee that the path you want will be available to you.

I am pretty sensitive about parading my children. Back when we went to synagogue, there was a portion in the service when they invited all the kids to go onto the stage and sing the prayer. One or two kids would actually sing the prayer. About twenty toddlers would run around on the stage, crashing into each other. And then a handful of mothers would bring their infants to the stage and hold them like trophies. Like they had just won the U.S. Open (and believe me, there was a big part of me wishing the kids' heads would fall off like the top of the trophy did for Maria Sharapova. Made me feel great being that petty in synagogue).

And I promised my husband I would never be one of those women bringing up their child who obviously couldn't participate. Those women brought up their kids to show them off. And I promised I would never treat my kids like that. We never parade them or bring them to events just to show them off. There are other people in our life who would like us to do this, but I won't allow it because I know how it feels to watch a mother parade her kids. And it makes you feel like shit. And you never know who is around and what they're going through. And I'm just not going to make someone feel like that on purpose. If we bring them to something, it is either because it's for them or because we need to take them because we're going ourselves.

But what do you do with the fact that even if you don't parade your kids, you end up making a woman having dinner with her husband feel like crap just by walking past? Which was the whole point of the pomegranate-coloured string. Except unless you read this blog or someone who has posted it on their blog or had a friend tell you about it, you don't know what the string represents.

Which is my question: how do we get the word out there? A newspaper article? A forwarded email? Because the reality is that there is an entire world of stirrup queens who are not going to a clinic or reading blogs or visiting bulletin boards. So while it needs to go out through infertile venues such as bulletin boards, clinics and organizations, it also needs to get out there to the general population. Which is where someone like today's woman exists. Perhaps not yet part of the openly diagnosed infertile world, but hurting nonetheless when a pantsless girl walks by her.


Lisa said...

Who doesn't know what the yellow plastic LiveStrong bracelets stand for? Very few people are unaware of at least the fact that they have something to do Lance Armstrong and cancer. So that's what we need to do-- find a celebrity (Marcia Cross? Brooke Shields? Julia Roberts? Or someone who's already out about IF like Cindy Margolis?) and an organization (Resolve) and get the word out on television and in magazines. Get the celebrity to go on the Today Show, on Oprah, etc. And most importantly, get people who are affected to wear the bracelet and talk about it. There's such a stigma with infertility- once that changes, maybe we can start to get the word out.

Ej said...

Just found this blog - wish I had found it 3 years ago. Being sensitive to those who are dealing with fertility issues can be hard.

Sometimes I want to shout "Look at me I had a baby FINALLY - isn't that great huh huh huh!" But I remember many times when others did that and it made me feel horrible. Those of us who have 'crossed over' have a unique perspective. We know the pain - physical and emotional of infertility. Yet we also know the joy of being a parent. It is a fine line between enjoying the gift we have been given and hurting those who deal with infertility.

There were times when people made me cry and there was nothing they said or did wrong. Of courses the time a friend sent me her ultra sound pics was probably not one of them :)

Love the wrist band idea - I'll buy myself some thread and pass them around.

C said...

Has anything happened with RESOLVE and the bracelets? I agree that it's going to be hard to really get the word out unless there's a larger organization/movement backing it.

What about getting the big-name infertility bloggers to talk about it and put the icon on their sites? I'm thinking about Julie, Tertia, Julia, and maybe Amalah. Even getting them to link to you and the Common Thread post for a day could do a lot.

annmarie said...

Infertility is still one of those topics we're not supposed to talk about. When there is coverage on TV or in a magazine, it's a happy ening. What about the unhappy endings? It drives me crazy. I think the fact that all of us blog is fantastic and there are so many out ther living with the pain of infertility lacking this secret support system. C. has commented that we should post on the ribbon icon on our sites. Let's do it. It's a small step, but a necessary one. Everyone should also write a brief paragraph about it, or something. Is there a constitution we can create? Sounds odd, but I'm game for anything that will make a difference for someone else. Being able to get across the "I get it" message to another is so great.

KE said...

This story really broke my heart. I feel for that woman and her husband. It's hard for me not to feel like her when I see happy, beautiful children.

I love the idea of the string bracelet and always wear mine. I do think the "Lance Armstrong" type bracelets are more noticeable, though...they are more likely to start a conversation. I've found them online in many colors with customizable slogans for about $1.00/bracelet. If there's enough interest, I'd be glad to take on the responsibility of ordering and sending them to anyone who wanted one. Perhaps they could be packaged with a string bracelet and the pomegranate story? Maybe even given to people like the woman you saw?

Kathryn said...

I love the idea of the plastic bracelets. I know the intent was to keep it cheap with the string, but a $1 bracelet isn't a big difference over a roll of thread and it doesn't have to be replaced. Just throwing out my 2 cents!

joan said...

Does anyone know how to get in touch with Suz Redfearn? She's a freelance journalist who lives in the DC area. She's written a lot on health issues - including her own infertility. She also wrote the article on Elizabeth Edwards and donor eggs. She might be someone to help get the word out about the pomegranate strings or give some pointers on how to go about it. I googled her quickly, but didn't see anything that looked like a current email address.

Katie said...

Wonderful wonderful wonderful entry.

I don't want to be a wet blanket, but the rubber bracelets seem cliche to me now. I much prefer something different like the string. Plus I can't help but think of DNA strands when I see the string.

And as for celebs, how about someone declaring that s/he will not seek further treatment until EVERY INSURANCE CARRIER COVERS ART!?!?!?!

T said...

I have a similar story from this weekend -- I went to a gathering of friends fresh from playing with my kids, and couldn't resist relating some of the crazy things my kids were saying and doing. You know, proud parent stuff. Later, while giving me a tour of the house, the hostess referred to one room as a future nursery, and then later commented that "everyone taking bets on us being the first to have babies has been so wrong." I should have shut up about the kids after that, but then someone asked me some questions about them, and I couldn't resist sharing a couple more stories. I went home feeling guilty guilty guilty, and this morning went and apologized to the hostess for blathering about my kids. I fessed up about our needing fertility treatments, and she told me not to worry -- that she enjoyed the stories, and that they would eventually have kids once they sorted out their health issues. I felt better getting the issue out in the open, but it raises the good point that ej makes above -- where is that line between respecting other people's struggles and also enjoying being a parent?

Being IF makes me enjoy my kids more than I might have if they'd been oopsies -- I savor everything they do and say, and love to share anecdotes about them. They are the center of my universe -- how do I leave them out of casual conversation? How do I brush off other people wanting to talk about them? I try to limit myself, by talking about them just with other parents, but it's hard when you are a proud parent, a parent who worked really hard to become one. At least I have lived in the Land of IF long enough to recognize the signs -- I am sure I would have missed them completely if I'd never lived it. At least I knew enough to apologize later!

BTW, I am wearing my bracelet!

Dee said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm a board member of our local (soon to be regional) Resolve chapter and we're putting the "Operation Common Thread" info in our upcoming newsletter. I forwarded a link to your blog to all of my fellow board members after bringing it up at our board meeting yesterday. It's too great an idea not to share with others who aren't reading the internet and aren't getting information from their doctor's offices.

Speaking of which, perhaps some sort of local grassroots campaigns with doctor's offices would be one starting point? And I agree that perhaps a spokesperson--Brooke Shields, Cindy Margolis, etc.--may be another way to spread the word.

Regardless, wider-spread word of Operation Common Thread won't be possible without some sort of larger publicity and Resolve would be a great way to hopefully get that going, as would INCIID, and some of the other organizations (perhaps ASRM, etc.?).

mandolyn said...

I'm with Katie, I'm partial to the string. I like "The Common Thread." I agree that celebrity attention would certainly open more eyes.

megan said...

also, we can all contact our local news stations and newspapers about it.. maybe in the next week or so we can all be thinking of a writeup that can be sent to all these news stations.. something uniform, with all the major information we need to get across, links to resolve and local chapters, blogs etc. we need to prove that this is a huge issue, and we need support!
I'll be willing to write something up, but I'm just starting out.. maybe one of you veterans can write a better story than I could.

if we all sent the story to our local news stations, we could at least start the ball rolling.

my dh's uncle is a meteorologist at a big station in atlanta, maybe I can get some contact info from him, or have him help me out.. I don't know..

there have been studies that show that there is no longer 6 degrees of separation, that it has been lowered to 5 degrees, that means that somebody on here has to know someone who can help us out!!


The Town Criers said...

There were two write-ups a little while ago:

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.

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.

Another version by Paz:
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 ( 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!

So people can send those along to any news station/newspaper/sources out there.