My writing today was inspired by Pamela's post on the 10th Anniversary of her book, Silent Sorority. It has also turned out to be an opportunity for me to think about some issues I've raised before, but relate them to my life today. It's why I love reading other women's blogs, because a few comments can inspire me to think further. And because writing posts can take me in directions I never expected - as in this post!
Pamela went back into the archives and looked at a discussion on Infertility Amnesia. She suggested three possible reasons for why some women who have children after infertility seem to suffer from a degree of infertility insensitivity.
I had one or two additional thoughts to - or perhaps expansions on - Pamela's three reasons (a variation on survivor’s guilt; denial; or ‘false sensitivity’) for infertility amnesia.
I know that some women think that we took the easy way out, and that in contrast they "hung in there" and endured additional hardships to achieve their children. Their pregnancies and subsequent children validated their efforts, and proved them "worthy." They then felt that they earned the right to fully join the "mothers" club, and participate in all the rites of passage of being pregnant and mothers (scan and bump photos, using photos of their children as their profile pics, etc). They defend their right to do this, regardless of the fact that they know from experience that in doing so, they will hurt some women who are either still waiting to be pregnant/have their baby, or some of those who, like us, will never do so. (I have covered this in a slightly different context before, here and here).
But rather than revisit their insensitivity (which I did in my draft just to get it off my chest), I instead want to think about the fact that despite going on the same journey, sometimes for many years, different outcomes can lead to such completely different outlooks. One group sees that effort, hard work and perseverance pays off, and they are validated by that. Another group sees simply that they were lucky, and remember that they could have easily not achieved their outcome. A third group, the No Kidding women, see the opposite. We see that hard work, effort and perseverance can often make no difference whatsoever to the end result.
It's a classic example of how our personal experiences shape our world view. But it is also an example of how we can, if we are not careful, use those personal experiences to justify our views. When, really, it would be more honest to continue to test our views against evidence, to question their premise, examine them with sensitivity and compassion from all sides, and be prepared to change them if we need. Rather than being defensive when challenged, we need to try to take into account different perspectives and experiences.
It has been timely for me to reread these posts and apply them to my life today, and my approach towards people in it. I guess it's another example of accepting and choosing to use the gifts of infertility - of empathy, and humility. A reminder too that, as a commenter on one of the earlier posts linked above pointed out, in the absence of it from others we need to practise self-compassion.
And that is not how I thought this post would end!