I am sorry I didn’t get to come in person to hear you speak on the panel at fertility fight club last week during Fertility Fest, I was resting at home after my third miscarriage.
I wanted to write this letter to you as a way of responding to your claims that Secondary Infertility does not, nor should have a place in a forum such as Fertility Fest. I am indeed “one of the fortunate ones” who had a successful IVF, first attempt none the less. My son is now two years old and I am as you say, now indulging in the “middle class life” to try to have a second child.
I want to try to set a scene for you. We are sat in a hospital looking at a monitor on the wall, at a silent lifeless pregnancy scan. Here is another one. I’m in my bathroom, staring down the basin of my toilet at blood. Desperately trying to catch my breath whilst realising what I see before my eyes is my pregnancy. The presence of my son sleeping in the next room to me didn’t make it any easier to pick myself up off the bathroom floor with a shattered heart. That does not make me ungrateful or not whole heartily appreciative for my son, but at that moment in time did it make it easier to lose another baby? No it didn’t. Despite the possible sibling status of that baby I was still grieving, still hurting. How can my anguish not be as deserving or valid as any other woman going through the same?
You see here lies the biggest grievance I have. It’s called the Trying To Conceive Community and the emphasis here is on the word community. How can we support and be inclusive of one another’s pain and struggle if we only allow those who haven’t experienced motherhood to be protected. Believe me when I say it is no less painful for me to see a pregnancy bump now than it was prior to having my son. That doesn’t mean I can’t show empathy or compassion for that person and what they have been through now they are expecting a child. After giving birth you don’t suddenly lose the function that controls your ability to feel. There was still blood in my veins, I still have a beating heart and a very real memory of what is like to long for and lose a child.
Are we to divide women into two groups, mothers and non mothers and therefore pit them against each other? Why can’t we be inclusive of ALL women? Because fundamentally if you break it right down, what you have on both accounts is a HUMAN BEING. A woman who regardless of how many children she has, still has the ability to feel pain and sadness. A women sobbing on her bathroom floor to a negative pregnancy test is no less or more of a woman who is clutching a pregnancy scan picture after many rounds of IVF.
I too have sat in a waiting room whilst going through fertility treatment watching women with pregnancy bumps and newborns. I have felt the desire to be pregnant more than anything in the world. Let me tell you it still hurts just as much as before. But I also have the compassion and the knowledge to understand it is ok to have those feelings but we don’t need to fuel the divide further. Yes I believe there should be sensitivity and I would never describe my pain anymore or any less than anybody else. But should women who are suffering recurrent miscarriage for their second, third or fourth child just hide away their pain and suffer in silence in fear of upsetting those who are childless? Where do women seek help and guidance if not from the community they first started in? We are all trying to break the silence around this issue not shut it down further. I have messages all the time from women who have children but feel so alone and isolated in their journey to have more.
I think your presentation does continue to open up the gaping hole and ignorance that I believe surrounds Secondary Infertility. Infertility can evoke the worst personality traits possible, I know I have experienced many of them. But without the voice and experience of both degrees of Infertility how will be ever learn to be accepting of others and their pain too? It is not a competition to see who can be the most heartbroken. There is not an argument in the world that would say primary infertility is not devastating, consuming and heartbreaking. But please don’t invalidate my pain. You see I may be a mother but I am still a person too. Motherhood hasn’t stripped my ability to feel lost, vulnerable and utterly inconsolable.
It’s the divide that your dialogue could create that hurts me the most. We already live in a world rife with prejudice and exclusion please don’t bring this further into the TTC community? Are we not going through enough as individuals without adding the guilt and burden for those of us that are experiencing motherhood? Why can’t we all just be dealing with INFERTILITY and lose the connotations that derive from the words Primary and Secondary? Or better not why can’t we all just be kind to one another?