a post in honor of National Infertility Week
I don't write a lot specifically about infertility here any more. Part of me feels like that silence, or that lack, is a betrayal, because it was such a significant part of the forward-movement of this blog for such a long time, and because the community that supported and continues to support me on this journey deserves a better advocate. Part of me feels like that is the natural evolution of this space. Part of me worries that people who come here for cupcakes or soup won't want to read about pregnancy loss. Part of me thinks that maybe cupcakes and soup are excellent ploys to raise awareness for a disease that affects one in eight women. Part of me knows that infertility is one of many subtexts for everything I write.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine posted an April Fool's pregnancy announcement on Facebook. After he revealed the truth, most people thought the joke was funny, but it took him a long time to untangle the rumors that had spread. He's a nice guy, and I was surprised that he would have done something so cavalier, but I felt that I needed to say something. So I wrote him a private Facebook message, telling him that I didn't want to speak on behalf of the entire ALI community, but that a post like that might be hurtful to people in ways that he didn't intend.
To my surprise, he wrote back that his wife had also experienced recurrent pregnancy loss, fibroids, and other complications with her reproductive system. They were no longer able to have children, and the two they had were hard-won, like ours. He should have known better, he said, given their own experiences with grief and loss.
It was yet another one of the instances of my making assumptions about my own friends, wherein I was acting the part we usually assign to the unaware "Fertile."
In a conversation months ago with another friend whose first child was stillborn, she said that she often felt unwelcome in the ALI community, in the blogs that seemed to make assumptions about women who had children. She reminded me that women on the playground, watching their children ... women in church ... women who are friends, neighbors, relatives ... may also have walked on this path. I think about her words often when I catch myself making assumptions about the women I meet, reminding myself that the assumptions I make could stand in the way of deeper friendship, trust, understanding, and support.
In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, my request is this: don't ignore the assumptions we make about each other. Those assumptions support the wall of silence that surrounds infertility, that makes it so taboo. Don't ignore the silences, the things that go unsaid because there is no safe space to say them. Don't ignore the subtexts of strained or happy conversations.
Because ignoring these things promotes ignorance, and more ignorance is the last thing we need.
Thanks for reading, for listening, and for witnessing, both with me, and with so many others.