I am having a pretty hard time over here with guilt, shame, and anger. So, I wanted to delve into what the word community means. Admittedly, I wrote this post before I’d publicly disclosed my pregnancy. I have been absolutely overwhelmed by the support I have received from you all and I appreciate it more than you know.

It makes the 10 weeks of agony and terror leading up to the disclosure seem ridiculous now. But, having inhabited the land of IF for 4+ years, I’ve seen many a person get a “natural” pregnancy and the reactions really run the gamut. You might be surprised by the number of people I have watched be torn apart after a disclosure. I count myself lucky that so far I have not been among them… But I can’t help but wonder if there is still a necessary dialogue here. About the amount of vitriol and lack of support that can happen when someone announces a pregnancy. I thought long and hard about pulling this post, after all, I’ve been lucky… why anger the internet gods? But I ultimately decided to keep it, there is truth in these feelings. I had a lot of fear around disclosure for a reason. So here goes, I want to unpack that today.

To start with, I feel like the bigger your influence and the amount of time that you spend advocating for the community actually increases your risk of getting serious blow-back on a pregnancy disclosure. It’s just a fact: the more people you reach with your blog or social media account the more people who don’t know you that will wind up reading your news. The people you are close to your friends, family, support network, etc. are the most likely to be overjoyed that you have conceived and the most likely to react well. The other people, whose lives you are touching but don’t know you from Adam, will have a much harder time not feeling the familiar sting of jealousy at your news. They are also much less likely to reign in any negative reactions because, frankly, it can feel good to be a bitch to others when you are hurting… and the fact that they don’t know you in person makes you an easy target. What do they care if they make you cry?! I am expecting a bit of this kind of blow-back. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s out there lurking. It is the internet after all. Trolling happens when a person is in great pain, infertility causes a lot of pain, and my natural pregnancy is bound to be a trigger for some. I get this. I still think it’s shitty to lash out at someone simply because you can, but I accept that I run this risk by putting myself out there on the internet. That’s why I stated in my original post that I wouldn’t be responding to negative comments about the pregnancy. You’re hurting, you lashed out, I refuse to feed into that bullshit. I get it but I choose not to engage.

The second kind of blow-back I am less tolerant of. This is the person that takes my pregnancy as an affront to their sensibilities because I’m an outspoken infertility advocate. Because I have made it my mission to reach a larger audience, write for other sites, give lectures, and generally “stand” for infertility. Because I got pregnant “naturally” these people are likely to tell me that I can no longer use that platform.  This will rear its head, it certainly did last time I was pregnant and that one wasn’t even naturally conceived! This really irks me… Never mind the 4+ years of actively trying, never mind the countless rounds of fertility treatments that didn’t take, never mind that my previous pregnancy only happened via IVF-ICSI, never mind that my dr. gave me a 5% chance of conceiving naturally as PART OF MY DIAGNOSIS OF INFERTILITY. The pregnancy itself erases all of the other criteria and makes me no longer infertile in their minds. Does it also erase all of the good that I have been doing for the community? Does it erase all of the people in the trenches that have been helped to laugh during this shitstorm of a journey? Does it erase all of the fertile people that I have helped to educate about these conditions and struggles?

Does it?!

Because, no, it doesn’t. You know that it doesn’t!  To these people I implore you, GO! Be outspoken! Share YOUR journey!! The community needs, like DESPERATELY needs, more people to stand up and be open about their struggles. The more you’ve struggled the better. Please, please, please, with a capital P, become an advocate! It is incredibly important work. But do not strip me of all I have done. It’s insulting to me and to the community.

Which brings me to my mother-fucking point. What does that word -community- even mean here? I have never seen more infighting about who is the real infertile and who deserves a voice and who should or shouldn’t stick around ever, in any other situation. And I’ve taught Jr. High. Did you get pregnant using Clomid? Not infertile enough. Only had one IVF? Not infertile enough. Never had a miscarriage? Not infertile enough. Got pregnant naturally? Not infertile enough. The list goes on and on. I really think we need to take a good hard look at ourselves here and consider how we can best move forward to SUPPORT each other in our fight to become parents. Becuase, like it or not, that’s the goal for most people in the community, to get to where I am. If you accept that like 90% of all the people in this space will one day wind up with children, one way or another, then it seems abhorrent that we also accept that people will attack that 90% when it happens. What bullshit!

In what other community can you be sure that you will get attacked by other members, especially when you finally have something to celebrate?! I know the common refrain here is that it’s because the infertility community is so diverse. We cover everything from cancer survivors, to LGBTQ couples, to ladies with no uterus… admittedly the types of diagnosis here are broad. But it’s not really that different from the diversity in, say, the LGBTQ community. I mean… they added letters to the acronym BECAUSE there is so much diversity! They use a RAINBOW for Christ’s sake because they want to represent every flavour of gay! You can’t tell me they don’t have diversity in their groups! But do they wake up every morning and have to pick what to share in support groups, do they have to worry about not seeming gay enough? NO, because being gay is about YOUR UNIQUE EXPERIENCE with your own brand of gayness. Tim’s is not the same as Tom’s, is not the same as Leslie’s, is not the same as Barb’s! I know this is not a perfect analogy, there is infighting in all communities, including LGBTQ, but I feel like it is really expected here… it is accepted and touted as NORMAL in our space.

So why is it that in our community, the place we turn to for support, the place where other members should really GET IT and help us through … that we are busy attacking our own? It needs to stop. Yes, I’m pregnant, freak natural conception, completely blindsided… but I still get it. I really do know what it’s like to see negative after negative. I really do know what it’s like to have to swallow the cost of treatment. To have people leer at you across the party and just KNOW they are going to ask you about kids. I get it. So please don’t act like I’ve now developed amnesia.

Also, my situation is really not all that uncommon, infertility isn’t necessarily sterility, people do get pregnant here by chance. Less so than in the broader society, but it happens. And my experience with infertility changes how I feel about a spontaneous pregnancy… about ANY pregnancy I might achieve actually. It changes the support I need. But I am not allowed to ask for it. Because my infertility is stripped of me. Because I am not hurting ENOUGH to voice my pain. Because I am carrying a baby. Because I will be a parent. Which is really what we are all chasing… This is sickness. It needs to stop.

We deserve better. We can DO better.

The Chicken

What Does Community Even Mean?
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7 thoughts on “What Does Community Even Mean?

  • October 5, 2017 at 8:41 am

    Great post. Infertility can bring out a bad side in some people unfortunately when they get caught up in the feelings of anger and bitterness. I understand and totally get it but it’s still not acceptable to try to make someone feel bad or guilty if they get their much wanted pregnancy. I’ve been accused of having “infertility amnesia” and being “smug” about my pregnancy which was upsetting. I haven’t forgotten what I went through to get to this point and I feel grateful every single day! But maybe that’s how my writing came across to some people. The majority of people in the infertility community are lovely and supportive though!

  • October 5, 2017 at 10:15 am

    The way I see it, it’s human nature to sort ourselves into groups and then define that group (at least partly) by who doesn’t belong. Is there any part of life where you don’t see this happening? I see it everywhere. Of course we also have the sense (sometimes) to realize it’s better to not put people in boxes.

    I’m maybe a bit weird in that I don’t *want* to completely belong anywhere. I like to be welcomed and accepted, but there’s no group identity I completely accept and there never will be. I like the frisson of not fitting in. It reminds me I’m an individual, and so are other people, and to stay alert. So if anyone tells me I’m not a real infertile (nobody ever has), I’ll be like, cool, thanks. I like being a real person and individual and not a statistic. And I see the people I build community with the same way. Sure we don’t share identical stories but if I can learn from somebody, then I appreciate that and I don’t really care how or if they got pregnant or started a family, And congratulations again on your pregnancy, may everything go beautifully.

  • October 5, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    It’s actually very interesting for me to your read this post as it reminded me of how I found you in the first place, which was through a common blogger friend Jay during that period where she was caught in one hell of a social media storm following the community learning about her second pregnancy ( I remember being incredibly upset that someone who was advocating so hard for the community was being attacked so terribly. I got that people were hurting and likely surprised, but the hate that came out truly, TRULY left me speechless. Most interesting is that there are still people who refuse to let it go, insisting that somehow she was in the wrong. Shocking doesn’t begin to describe this reasoning.

    Honestly, I don’t know how one prepares themselves for backlash. I agree it’s certainly not fair. I think the best you can do is what you’re already doing, which is continuing to share your story unapologetically while advocating for those who need it. Because the reality is pain causes people to say and do things that they would otherwise be embarrassed by under normal circumstances (horrified when they find themselves on the other side).

  • October 6, 2017 at 12:06 am

    I’ve read a stat that 1/3 of women who have a baby through IVF will go on to have a natural pregnancy. That’s a lot of people for haters to hate. Seriously, they should check themselves. Once affected by infertility, always affected. It’s not an experience you just leave behind. Don’t waste your time worrying about these people. It’s a beautiful thing that you are having another baby. Congrats!

  • October 6, 2017 at 8:28 am

    As someone who has been the person who has lashed out at others (including yourself) I can tell you how guilty I feel for how I behaved. This is such a tough topic and with so many emotions involved it makes it tough to remain a community with so many in diffeeent places. More so than the community I’ve found that certain individuals who I’ve friended and others I’ve learned from are the value I’ve taken from the community. As Cristy pointed out I remember Jay’s situation almost 3 years ago well very similar to yours right now. Though at least from what I’ve seen (unless I missed it) you haven’t received the backlash she did.

    Being the one who lashed out I can tell you that obviously as you pointed out it comes from a place of hurt. For me all of the IF pregnancy and birth announcements were reminders for me of what my wife and I would never experience because of me. Even though others pregnancy had nothing to do with our situation I felt like and still feel like a failure. I felt like we were or I was doing something wrong and that others were working harder and more worthy of success. It’s a shitty place to be. But it was and still is no reason to lash out.

    Fertility is not an exact Science your situation isn’t all that uncommon. A lot of times there’s no explanation for it all. In no way does getting pregnant naturally erase the road you went through to get to this point. Nor does it remove your infertility advocate card. You’ve been someone who has opened up to others advocated even after becoming a parent for all people. You’ve done all this despite people like myself giving you shit along the way. For that we should all be grateful for your continued work and support.

    I wish you and your family the best of luck moving forward.

  • October 7, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Nothing can undo all the good you’ve done! You have always been a valuable member of my support network, and I know that this spontaneous pregnancy won’t make you forget everything you went through on the incredibly difficult journey to parenthood. I admire your honesty, but in a truly supportive community, nobody should fault you for “not being fertile enough”. Love ya!

  • October 10, 2017 at 4:10 am

    I had to try to concieve only for about 1.5 years and then I concieved naturally. Still, I remember so vividly the feeling that maybe we will have to go down the ivf road and it might never happen for us. The pregnancy did not erase any of this and I’m incredibly grateful it happened for us. I deeply feel for everyone who has had tough times ttc regardless what their story is. Congrats on your pregnancy and all the best <3

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