I have to say that when I agreed to have my piece published on The Huffington Post, I thought about who might see it, but I didn’t really think about the comments. I didn’t think I was getting any – my piece wasn’t on the iPad version (sob, I would have been so chuffed to read it there) – and so I didn’t look till yesterday. After Kate’s comment on my previous post suggesting I'd be better off hitting my head against a brick wall, I braced myself, and went in.
They were all there - positive, negative, off the topic, angry, and just plain nuts. It was weird seeing myself referred to as “the gal” or simply “she.” Especially as my mother was a strict believer in the “She’s the cat’s mother” rule. It was weird that people had taken the time and effort to comment on something I had written, on an international news/magazine site. I mean, blog commenting is different; we develop more of a personal relationship on a blog, and there is more of a conversation. So reading the comments made me feel as if I was eavesdropping on a bunch of people talking about me.
Quite a number had missed my point. I don’t feel guilty for not being able to have children. I did (but don’t any more) feel guilty for feeling happy and enjoying my life without children, when I had wanted to be a mother so much, and had grieved my pregnancy losses, and the end of my fertility, so very much. They also obviously thought I was much younger than I actually am - not realising that my insight (or happiness) didn't come over night!
No one, i repeat no one should ever feel obligated to have children, or feel any guilt over not having children.
Some people just don't want to have kids. If you are one of those people, why grieve the loss of something you didn't want to start with?
There were the meant-to-be-supportive, vehemently child-free:
I choose not to over populate this earth with drooling little crumb crunchers and Im perfectly happy. There is adoption for the desperate, and there are many, many puppies that need good homes. No grieving needed. (Actually, I'm a cat person).
... if I couldn’t have children I’d throw a party!
There were the adopters (with many variations on the theme):
I am not sure that it seems she really wants children. Adoption seems obvious.
I'll never understand what is wrong with adoption? (Fortunately many commenters pointed out the many barriers to adoption).
Adopt a child and do some real good.
There was the one “just try surrogacy”:
Actually, before age set in ectopic pregnancy is easily solved by IVF ... carried by surrogates. (The commenter wanted me to go to India for this!)
There were the mean or smug:
Of course, she's infertile. She's old. Can't have your cake and eat it too, sweetheart. (Sweetheart?!)
I am so sorry but part of this problem is that woman are falsely given this "you can have it all" line which we clearly can not. (No kidding? I do agree with this - I certainly was fed that in the 1980s. But I could have done without the smug, I know best, tone of voice.)
We can not wait until our mid to late 30's to start thinking about kids. Otherwise you see this. (Ditto above).
You are lucky your man did not leave you. (I suspect this was written by a woman who had been left - but it still jarred.)
And the nastiest, probably from someone who calls herself a Christian:
Thank you God for not allowing this person to bring life into this world.
For a while there I felt indignant. These people didn’t know why we didn’t adopt, they know nothing about me other than that article, and many of them didn’t really understand my point. But, as I explained to my husband who said I should reply, these people would never understand. They didn’t want to understand, which is precisely why they were commenting. In fact, I was really surprised to find myself laughing and rolling my eyes at these comments. They didn’t hurt. Even the last one. (Well, okay, it does irk ... just a bit!)
But the positive comments were wonderful, and made me smile. They include:
Why the guilt over one's strength and one's ability to re-balance?
Any loss is difficult. For me, it was the loss of a husband when my children were young. I remarried, and had periods of time that I felt guilty because I was happy again.
I applaud her for being honest and sharing her innermost feelings regarding her personal experience.
I could have written this article, because it captures my thoughts exactly.
Thanks for sharing your grief. It helped me. (From an infertile man, this moved me unexpectedly.)
God Bless all of us women for being women. ... God bless us to be what we want.
...if we do not become mothers, that does not lessen our worth as women in any way. (This commenter must have read Nicole's fantastic article a few days earlier!)
Sounds like you're a person with her head screwed on straight. Continued happiness!
This woman to me would be a joy and a treasure. (Either a lonely or horny or both man. I made a point of passing this one on to my husband. Just to make sure he remembered how much of a a joy and a treasure I really am!)
Thank you for this article, for your honesty and your thoughts. This is a wonderful attitude.
It is wonderful to read a post reminding people that you can have a happy ending even if this means you did not get to be a parent. (Yes, yes, yes!)
Reading these comments reinforced exactly why I blog, and why I am feeling motivated to write more widely about the subject. To know that I had inadvertently helped some complete strangers was amazing. The examples above, and the wonderful wonderful support I’ve received here on this blog from you all, made this rather scary “coming out” venture worthwhile.
And at times, especially after weeks like this, it does feel as if I'm "having my cake and eating it too" - it's just a different cake, sweetheart!