When I was actively going through infertility and treatment, I heard a lot of stories. I think everyone who goes through any sort of medical or social crisis hears stuff like this, you know, the “the doctors told them they’d never get pregnant/recover/etc., but they did!” Sometimes this was helpful, particularly when related firsthand by the person the story had happened to, and often, those storytellers (whether in person or on blogs) would point out that while it had worked for them, they knew it wasn’t necessarily going to work that way for others. It was solidarity, not inspiration.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t always the case. Sometimes the stories were told more prescriptively (often by people that they hadn’t happened to), in the “if you just hang on, it will happen!” or “if you do _______, you’ll have a baby!” Often, it occurred when I was already beating myself up and wondering what I could have done differently or when we were making painful decisions whether or not to continue treatment. Those stories made me feel guilty, my decisions unaccepted, and left me second-guessing whether or not I’d done “enough”.
I’ve lurked this year for National Infertility Awareness Week, mostly because reading everyone else’s blog posts proved interesting and the topic – “Flip the Script” – is one I’ve had to mull over a bit. Finally, though, I’ve realized the script I want to flip: be careful with stories.
A couple of years ago, I realized I’d become that cliché, walking urban legend of infertility stories: IVF works on the third embryo transfer after losses, rare, tragic complications, and out of that, a beautiful, healthy child. Getting spontaneously pregnant with my second with no interventions or treatments only added to it.
I’m grateful for how things worked out. But it is by the most bizarre circumstances and strange, against-the-odds events that I am where I am in life right now. There is absolutely nothing that is able to be generalized to someone else struggling with infertility.
It’s not because of my hard work. It’s not because of my persistence. It’s not because I’m somehow “special”. It’s not because of my good attitude or positive thinking (please, ask anyone in my life – I did not accept infertility/PCOS with any grace whatsoever, still dislike many pregnancy announcements/going to other people’s baby showers except under special circumstances, and hated pretty much every moment of treatment). It’s not because of “baby dust”. It’s not because I deserved it more than anyone else.
Truthfully, I have no idea why things worked out the way they did. I’m grateful, but I really don’t have an answer to the “why/how”. And I resent the idea that if things had not worked, I would have been any less worthy.
Basically, what I’m saying is this: I hope no one (including me) ever uses my story as a cudgel or as a prescription or as a “this could be you too if you just keep trying!” Because anyone who is struggling with infertility, needs to take a break, or needs to consider their options (including resolving without children), does not need that pressure or guilt. It’s great to tell our stories and truths. But there’s a way to do it without generalizing out-of-the-ordinary happenings to others or giving false hope.
Let’s flip that script, straight up.
This post is a part of Microblog Mondays. If you want to read more, please head over to Stirrup Queens! Thanks to Mel for originating and hosting.