Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Further Thoughts on Crossing That Line

I am so grateful to everyone who commented on my last post. I am glad that my words were received with such sensitivity, and found each and every one of your comments helpful in enabling me to clarify my feelings on this very complicated topic.

Several of you suggested that this blog is my space, and that I should feel free to use it in whatever way is most helpful to me. On one level, this blog does indeed function as a kind of personal journal, in which I document my shifting experiences of, and feelings about, infertility. And yet there is, I think, an important difference between a journal and a blog: while a journal is primarily a private document, a blog is written (at least partially) with a particular audience in mind. Whenever we hit that 'publish' button, we do so in the full awareness that others may well read what we have written. Obviously, there is nothing to prevent me from using this space to chronicle my pregnancy symptoms in repetitive detail, but I think that we should at least try to be mindful of the effects that our words may have on other people (and, frankly, are any of you really going to be that interested in my sudden aversion to Marmite?). Perhaps I could follow Hekateris's example and start a new blog specifically about my pregnancy, but, as IG Lisa (as opposed to HMS Lisa, for this is how I think of you, my dears) pointed out, my experience of infertility has had a profound effect on the way I feel about pregnancy, and so it doesn't really make sense to try and separate them out in this way.

One of the reasons why I started blogging (as opposed to simply keeping a diary) is because I wanted to connect with others who were also struggling with infertility. In the process of sharing my story, I have come to realise that that story is part of a larger patchwork of stories, that I am part of a much broader community of women. But, as Luna pointed out, that community is necessarily a fluid one: some people stay just long enough to get that BFP and then move swiftly on, while others continue to ponder the profound impact infertility has had on our lives long after we have finished treatment - whatever the outcome of that treatment. We were all of us drawn to this community by a common inability to conceive, yet ultimately may end up in very different places. Although it can be difficult to accept, sometimes we may find ourselves on very different paths from those to whom we had previously felt particularly close.

HMS Lisa asked an interesting question in this respect: when someone who has struggled as we have finds success, are they capable of offering the level of support they offered when they were still struggling? It is a very tricky question to answer. I don't think that I will ever forget the depths of despair to which infertility took me. But if I offer my support to those who are in similarly dark places, do I run the risk of sounding pitying or patronising? Does the mere fact of leaving what I imagine to be a supportive comment inadvertently remind them of what they cannot have?

As Pamela Jeanne suggested, however, pregnancy/delivery don't have to be a barrier if both sides are sensitive to the difficulties and make the effort to be deferential and accept that that there will always be a modicum of guilt and envy regardless of the outcome. We're human and we make mistakes but we can always learn from them. And this really is perhaps all any of us can try to do: to document our own stories, while continuing to remain sensitive to the stories of others. And yes, Pamela Jeanne is right - we may make mistakes in the process, but that seems a risk worth taking.


Pamela Jeanne said...

We are in altogether new territory all of us. The power of connecting online on such a personal and yet far-reaching, life-changing experience means that we're learning and testing boundaries as we go along. I, too, fear commenting on some blogs. I worry about being the embodiment of the "curse of treatments that didn't work" for those still TTC, or possibly looking snarky to those who have reached pregnancy or inexplicable to those who move decisively to pursue adoption. Ultimately it's the insights and the capacity to grow that keep me reading and posting. Thanks for being such a big contributor to making me a better person...hopefully we're all setting a good example for those who come up behind us.

luna said...

I'm glad your thinking on this has been clarified a bit, and that you are encouraged by the great support you have here. I hope you keep on writing.

Shinejil said...

Keep on writing, Ms. H. What happened was beyond your control, just as the cancelled cycles and other setbacks were. No need for guilt.

I know I will be terrified if/when I ever get pregnant again. I'm looking to your words to learn how someone who's mind and writing I respect and enjoy will talk about the experience.

the Babychaser: said...

I read Lisa's post, and was shocked by how similarly I felt. It used to be fun when other IF women got pregnant with IVF--it was a sign that the process worked. Now I find I have a harder time with that than with women who get pregnant the old-fashioned way.

So sometimes I read less of the pregnant women's blogs, and sometimes it hurts to read them at all. But I never mind when they keep reading my blog, or comment, or give advice.

One thing I do like, though. Most women who are pregnant have some sort of countdown in the top corner of their blog, so the moment you check in with their blog you know they're pregnant. At first I thought it seemed kind of braggy, but now I really appreciate it as a warning, so if I'm not in the mood I can move on.

I'm really glad this is going so well for you. I just wish I could cross that line and join you. I'm feeling very left behind, as poeple keep getting pregnant and I become one of the veteran infertiles left behind.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

It's sounds like such an 'old-fashioned' feminist concept: to feel there is value in actually recording our own voices. By documenting ourselves, and being sensitive to the voices of others - surely that's the best we can hope to achieve but also is one of the most valuable things we can do for ourselves and each other. And for the future.

The secret diary of an infertile said...

I have just started to read your blog and I would definitely be interested in reading more.

It gives those that are still ttc hope. And I'm sure that those who achieve a pregnancy after IF have a totally different outlook on those that haven't, so you may even find that you need this blog as much as we need success stories like yours.