Mid-last year, I was asked to address the issue of how No Kidding
bloggers talk about others who are going through infertility or who are now expectant mothers or parents. (That should explain my last post
, the one I wrote here
last year, and this post - and apologies in advance, for any repetition.) Accusations were made – at some No Kidding bloggers, though not
all of us, and not all the time. So I agreed to write about this from my
First, it is important to recognise what all No Kidding bloggers have in common. We are all writing with the
knowledge that we will never have children (and that once we wanted them). This
is an inherently different perspective from those who were infertile and are
now parents, or those who are pregnant and full of hope and expectation and
fear, or those who are still trying and hoping. It means we might have different views on the experience of infertility, views that might be unwelcome to those who are going through infertility now, or who have come out of it with the prize they wanted.
The underlying assumptions to
our lives are now different not just to the bulk of society, but also to those of our previous fellow
infertiles. This is a very different dimension to our lives. We experience something they do not, feel different pain and different joy. Stating this is not competitive, comparative,
divisive, or playing Pain Olympics. It is a plain and simple fact. We have a
different starting point.
Secondly, when we live without children, we can (and do)
experience a real sense of isolation. We are rarely (if ever) recognised as a
legitimate group in society, but are easily ignored, invisible beside the
over-powering norm of those who have or expect to have children. It happens in wider society, and in the infertility blogging community. So the normal, natural and strong desire to look for tribes and
for connection is accentuated. Our blogs help us find that.
When No Kidding bloggers write about expectant parents and parents, we do so
in a number of ways:
- We might write focusing on our personal experiences with the
pregnant and parents, articulating our feelings, trying to understand ourselves,
our emotions, our motivations, our relationships.
- Or we might write in a genuine attempt to understand the
motivations of pregnant people or parents, rather than simply to be offended by
their presence, or their words or actions, their ignorance or casual insensitivity.
- Or we might write about systemic biases and issues, whether
societal or commercial, recognising what was and is hard for us, and wanting to
improve the situation for those who follow behind.
No Kidding bloggers write too with a number of emotions:
- We write with gratitude, when parents are thoughtful, when
they try to understand our experiences and decisions, when they respect our emotions, understand our sensitivities, and either embrace us in their lives, or respectfully
keep their distance when that’s what we want and need.
- We write, perhaps, with envy, frustrated that they don’t
appreciate what they have and take it for granted, and/or when they fail to
recognise our losses.
- We might write too with hurt and resentment, when they have
been condescending or insensitive or smug and self-congratulatory, or when
they are clearly judging us as weak, as failures, as those who opted out when the going got tough, without making an effort to understand.
- We write with hurt and fear and loneliness, when their words or actions
have made us feel marginalised, vulnerable, isolated, forgotten, and dismissed.
- We might be angry too, when they have laughed at us, demeaned us, and made us
I have felt all these emotions when reading blogs
or interacting in real life, and I am certainly not alone.
Whilst sometimes we might
write defensively, filled with emotion, there are other times we are able to be thoughtful,
and objective. Importantly, I think that sometimes writing on our blogs - amongst people who understand - can be an outlet so that in real life, or in correspondence or on someone else’s blog, we can
continue to exercise restraint, and be polite and decent and respectful!
But when we are writing with emotion, when we react to actions
and words, spoken or written, that have hurt us deeply, cut us to the quick, we can be less than kind towards those who instigated these hurt
feelings. We might make gross generalisations, or attempt to use humour to ease
the hurt we’re feeling, or defensively adopt a hurt, or angry, or mocking tone. Likewise, simply by being honest about our own experiences we can inadvertently
hurt someone who feels as if they are being targeted by our words. Because it is easy to take offence. And so a cycle
of hurt continues.
Whilst I’m not condoning it – either the hurtful words or
tone, or the ultra-sensitivity that can exist in any sector of the infertility
community (including ours) -I do understand it, and I don’t think that it should be entirely unexpected. It certainly happens in all sections of the wider infertility community that is, after all, full of hurt people. The truth is that we’ve probably all experienced both
ends of these emotions.
Personally though, I don’t believe that anyone* intends to hurt others. Rather, it is an inadvertent result of expressing
emotions and seeking connection, perhaps in an attempt to communicate to others how words and actions can hurt, or in an effort to understand and explain the environment in which we find ourselves.
Fortunately, though, we heal and grow, and we evolve
and mature as writers and thinkers. Emotions ease, and we can step back more objectively. We might still unconsciously hurt others, but I don't think it's possible to avoid this entirely. I will certainly defend the right of bloggers here to talk about what hurts them, to express their emotions, and to recognise the particular pain and strength and benefits of the No Kidding community. I don't think that supporting a minority, asking for equality for a group that feels ignored and dismissed, takes away anything from the majority.
But I also like to think that we all (regardless of where we sit in the community) heal and grow as readers as well as writers. It is much easier for me now to feel compassion for someone who has hurt me, to begin to understand their motives and their pain, and to accept that it is about them, and where they are in their journey, not about me. I see other bloggers who are parents after infertility, who are able to agree with much that is said in our community too, once they have some distance.
I do think though that we need to understand that a post can feel divisive and
competitive, or reflective and inspiring, depending on where we sit in the
process. I recognise that. It all comes down to motivation and delivery, and its worth - from time to time - stepping back and thinking about our own motivations for and delivery of our posts. As long as we display tact and good manners
and empathy, are being honest about our emotions, are exploring them with a
genuine wish to understand, and are not being deliberately unkind, then I think that we can
all continue to blog with pride.
least in the blogosphere, I can’t and won’t speak to what happens in Twitter