06 May, 2024

Thoughts on my Otherhood

It's been a long time since I felt the need to read other people's experiences and say, "that's just how I feel." I needed that a lot when going through my ectopic pregnancies, and a lot too when going through the realisation and acceptance that I would never have children. I got plenty of satisfaction during the first example, and much less during the second. But there were at least a few people around in similar circumstances, and we would share our experiences and the Things People Said and for a moment, feel understood. Much later, when I began blogging and reading blogs (for over 13 years), I also found that comfort. But because I am older than most writing about this, and had already been writing about it (on messageboards etc) since 2001, it has been more of an exercise in personally putting words to what I think and believe and have learnt, and more importantly, sharing that knowledge, than the discovery and relief of finding I am not alone. Although knowing others understand is always, always, a bonus.

Yesterday, I had to take a selfie of me with Otherhood, the book (see Note below), and make a video reading a sentence (or two) from my essay. To do that, I'd watched the video of another contributor. Her sentences were ones we all know: 

"Just a note: never say to someone who is struggling to get pregnant, 'Have you thought about adoption?' Yes, they fucking have."  Kate Camp, in Otherhood: Essays on being childless, childfree, and child adjacent.

I grinned with delight. This was going to be good! For some reason, I'd been holding off reading the other essays. But Kate's sentence, her grin and glare in her video, set me off. I finally picked up my copy of Otherhood and started reading.

I laughed at the first essay I chose to read, by Kathryn van Beek, one of the editors. With humour and heartbreak, she ticked off so many issues I've talked about here over the years, and except one, that all the blogs I've read have mentioned too. She mentioned an experience I thought I alone had had. But of course, I wasn't the only one. And although I felt alone, I was not. It was the one mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. It was then that I realised anew the power of sharing experiences, of letting people know they're not alone, of knowing that there are others out there who understand. All this time later, over 20 years, I finally know that someone else saw those signs, and felt the same way I felt seeing them in the midst of losing a much-wanted pregnancy.

Since then, I've dived into other essays. In every essay I've read (only 4-5 so far), there has been at least one thing that has made me think, "that was (or is) me!" Including in at least one childfree essay. I'm resisting the urge not to mark the book, because I hate writing on books. I mentioned to my husband I think I need to buy another copy that I can write on or highlight! (He thought that was weird.) There is so much in it worth blogging about. I feel a renewed enthusiasm. I don't want to overwhelm you or push the book on you. But I definitely want to share some of the thoughts I have about it.

At the moment, I'm only reading the essays from my town, because we have our launch function on Wednesday. I want to meet those other authors, tell them what their essays mean to me, and share in an environment when, for once, I'm with my tribe in real life. But I'm so happy and grateful that I have my online tribe to share this with too.


Note: Links to buy can be found here, including for ebooks. Our editors advise that the print book will be available internationally from 8 August. Orders from overseas distributors come quite late and then the books have to be shipped via Melbourne, aggregated with other publishers’ books and then shipped to Chicago and London, hence the delay in availability. However, from May 9 people overseas will still be able to buy OTHERHOOD from NZ retailers, or from Massey Uni Press directly – they'll just have to pay international shipping fees.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing job and a huge congratulations on the release of the book. Putting those thoughts out there are so important because we're not only sharing information. We're building connections.