03 May, 2012

What they said ...

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!


  1. I read your article in Huffington Post before I came here, and I wanted to leave a comment on that article. I wanted to say something in the line of how it resonates so much with me, that I could've written that article. But then I stopped and thought "Hmm no I couldn't have written that article, because no way I'm that eloquent"

    And, I am too scared to read others' comments on that lovely article, knowing how rude some people can be, or how clueless, or both. I almost cried reading some of the insensitive, clueless comments you pasted here, and I adore you for handling them so elegantly.

    At the risk of sounding both horny and lonely, I'd like to thank you for being you, for sharing so bravely and showing us that there is an elegant way of journeying the path of infertility.. for each lovely piece post that has helped me a lot during my own journey, thank you...you sweetheart you.

  2. I'm sorry that there are so many stupid people in the world who apparently have nothing better to do than go around leaving mean or irrelevant comments on things that have nothing to with them or which they do not understand. In my classroom, the rule is that you can disagree with someone but you must do it politely. Apparently these people have forgotten the old "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." Thank you for having the strength to put yourself out there. There are those of us at the end of our futile infertility journey who need the guiding light to see that life doesn't end with stopping TTC.

  3. You're an amazing person. I'm not sure if I would have had the strength to face people's comments. You are right. A lot of people don't understand unless they have to deal with it themselves. I've often gotten into useless matches on public online boards in defense of stepmoms - another foriegn land to many. All it has served to do was raise my blood pressure. Keep writing. You are helping many. You help me. Forget the rest.

    Would you mind terribly if I reference this in a piece I'm working on?

  4. I read the comments and cringed at the negative/harsh/judgmental/wrong ones, but you're right...the positive ones are really something that should be the focus. :-))) KUDOS to you!!!

  5. Your article is beautiful. Some of the comments are inexplicable (at best).

  6. Last week, I read Tracey's, Lisa's, Nicole's, and your post. I guess you sort of have to look at comments as the poster's own way (in many cases at least) of getting their own article on the Huffpost, or anywhere. In many cases, the response has less to do with the article and more to do with what the reader wants to say about an issue in general regardless of what the original article was about. You have the right attitude though. It is not about writing for people that have no interest on the topic, and are just bored and post whatever comes out of their heads, it is about those people that can use reading your positive perspective because it affects them or someone they love directly. You always have to focus on those you can make some difference with, and this is about everything in life, otherwise your mental resources would be drained. (I did this when I taught Middle School and High School, make the class really good for the top students and hopefully those who had little motivation might join in, if I focused on the apathetic, I would be drained and ineffective.) That said, the most common refrain I heard all across the articles was "Adoption, adoption, adoption."

  7. I try to resist reading comments these days. ; ) I don't think I read the ones on your piece, but I did read the ones on Nicole's. I honestly think some people don't read the article, or the entire article -- because you're right, many of them seem to have totally missed the point. They see the headline, maybe read the first paragraph, form an instant opinion (or have an old one spring to the fore) & start spouting off.

    I do notice an increasing number of positive/supportive commenters on these things, though. Yay!

  8. Before my article was published, I decided not to read the comments, because I knew Huffington Post commenters could stink and commenters on sites in general can. I had a friend tell me the comments were amazingly positive for the Huffington Post, and so I did go read a couple pages of them. I much more expected them to be like what you are describing.

    Stupid people. I agree, focus on those positive ones and the positive fact that you had a wonderful article published!

  9. I hope that even those rude commenters read your article, because words stick with you and show up in unexpected circumstances. So, while you know how many people have told you about the effect your words have had, you can probably count on a few more who have attitude changes or recall your article when they are presented with something that skews their worldview.

  10. I admire your bravery in putting your story out there, and applaud your attitude in dealing with the stupid and rude comments. Despite the nasty and small-minded commenters, you did reach some people with your words - and that is wonderful.

  11. I really really hate reading those comments. The first post I saw last week, I was so excited to see some push made nationally in "our" defense...and then I read the comments and I really felt like all the progress I was personally making was crushed to nothing. I had to block it all from my mind and refuse to go back. It's really terrible the things that people say without knowing anything at all! Ugh...as if this journey isn't hard enough.

  12. Commenters on sites like HuffPost are so the epitome of the "hide behind your anonymity" aspect of the internet. I applaud you for putting your truth out there. Most people who comment like that on your article are so afraid to live their truth they have to attack others to feel better about themselves.

  13. Oooh, you are very brave to dive into the comment section. I don't even dive into the comment section of posts on certain sites that aren't personal to me, much less jump into the comment section of a post that is about me. Because you hit it on the head here: "They didn’t want to understand, which is precisely why they were commenting."