16 January, 2017

Reflecting on our days “in the infertility trenches”

When writing here, I sometimes reflect on what it was like when I was trying to conceive and carry a child, and I frequently (as I am sure, other No Kidding bloggers do this too) recognise myself in those who are still trying to conceive or resolve their infertility. This recognition, this hindsight - knowing now what I wished I had known then – causes me to reflect, to think about what would have helped, and to be – at times – brutally honest about my emotions and thoughts at the time.

I don’t believe that, in reflecting on and analysing our own feelings and experiences, there is any actual or intended judgement of the actively infertile, but I do understand that our thoughts and discussions (in blog posts and comment threads) can at times feel judgemental to those who are still stressed and emotional, still vulnerable and fearful, who feel perhaps that their choices are under attack, even though many or most of us made those same choices, and trod the same path.

Yet I firmly believe that we make these comments as a recognition of ourselves, of what we didn’t and indeed couldn’t understand at the time, and from the benefit of knowledge and experience and hindsight and time. I think that we look at these issues in an effort to understand not only ourselves, but often also the commercial and societal environments in which we are living, and in an effort to improve the environment or to ease the process for those who come after us.

Saying, for example, that it is possible to be scared or stuck on the treadmill or immersed in grief (as examples of words I have used) is not an insult, although it can be and has been taken as such, just as recognising societal pressures or problems in the fertility industry is a systemic discussion and indictment of structural and societal issues, not of the patients who, of necessity, use the industry’s services.

My intention at least is that when I think of those still on their infertility journey, I do so with love and empathy, having been there myself, knowing how hard it can be, understanding the pain they are going through right now, the pressure, the doubts, the fear, and that I write with the hope that their paths might be eased as a result of our discussions, our reflections, and our sometimes unwelcome honesty.

But I wonder, how successful do you think I am, and perhaps the No Kidding blogging community is as a whole, in remembering where we have been?


  1. This is an interesting thought exercise. The benefit of hindsight is seeing the path we took and the outcome of choices and decisions along the way. Hence many people fall into the trap of offering advice with the idea of trying to alleviate pain and to offer insight.

    The key, I believe, is including empathy. To recognize also that though we have our own stories, the person walking down their path still has their story. Even if the immediate outcome is the same, there are many other factors in play that we may have zero experience with. Similar decisions may also lead to different outcomes.

    There is immense value with sharing our stories. It builds community and helps normalize difficult traumas. But we all have our own stories. And just as we want to be heard and to tell them, so too should we grant this respect to others.

  2. I think that you do a terrific job of presenting realities with empathy, of being sensitive to where they are but true to your story and to the truths of infertility that aren't always apparent when you're in it. I agree with Cristy that recognizing that we all have our own stories is key, that there may be similarities but no two stories are actually exactly alike. I know I dislike when someone tells me that I will definitely adopt one day because they did and it can happen... well, it happened for you, but that doesn't mean that it will come together for me necessarily. When the advice is personalized and recognizes that there are parts of the story that apply but obviously we are all individuals with different pieces, different variables, it works out best. I so appreciate your stories, your perspective, as a person with hindsight and who can look at the industry without the emotion of being a part of it. I have noticed that myself, that the farther I get from my IVF days the more I can reflect on it and see things I didn't want to see at the time.

  3. There is a huge difference between reflecting on your own story and giving advice (or even passing judgment). Please do not worry too much, dear Mali, you are doing great!

    There may be times when we are more vulnerable and therefore may take things a bit too personal. I know from myself that I was extremely sensitive when I was deep down in grief. But these are the times when you just skip certain blog posts (I never had to do that with yours!) and stick with the ones that help ;-).

  4. dear Mali, I started reading your blog when I was still in the last two IVFs. I am confirming Elaine's words - I never had to skip your blog posts... You have always been awesome.

  5. I personally believe that people like you and I, the childfree community that have made peace with our resolution, have this hindsight and empathy that it's needed in our community but sadly, it's ignored due to not being the desired outcome. I feel you do a good job sharing your past experiences and your life now.

  6. I've been lurking and dipping into your blog since about 2011 when I was still contemplating treatment (donor egg by that stage was the only possibility). My brain was already trained on stopping, and living without children, even then. So I was looking for normal-seeming, inspirational women who were facing life without kids and didn't present it as an end-of-the-world-scenario. If I'd been a die-hard, serial IVF-er determined to get a baby, I might have looked at it differently but as it is, I have never ever read anything in your blog that irked me or annoyed me, as I did in some blogs at the time (and still do). I second the above comments that your blog is one of the awesome originals! Interesting topic, I like your post of today also (19th Jan) and I'm going there now.

  7. I am not of the community but you have written in a way that enlightens. I thank you for your insight.

  8. I have found your voice to be thoughtful and measured despite intense emotions that may have been roiling around within, and very often you touch on challenges that are universal to people, whether in the trenches or recuperating from them.