A Leg Up

A Leg Up

For a long time I toyed with the idea of writing a letter to family and friends explaining why I avoid baby showers and other heavily child-laden activities.  My letter never got off the ground and then I stumbled on Angela’s An Open Apology to My Friends with Babies and I cheated.  In other words, I pasted her post on my Facebook page with a byline of how I couldn’t have said it better myself.  If you read her letter, you can see why.  Her letter is heart-wrenchingly honest with a twinge of humor (I adore her pet elephant metaphor).  She has since written a post entitled, A voice from the dark: why talking taboos makes for a better society, describing the outpouring of response and her reflections on the letter.  In this post, she outlines how important it is for our psyche’s and our society to share our stories of miscarriage, baby loss, infertility, childlessness. While I agree it is helpful, even vital, to share, I also know straight up why I often hesitate to do so…

Many of you will be head nodding as you read some of my experiences.

  1. The infamous, “have you thought about adopting?” response. Possible interpretation:  It is your bloody fault you feel sad/are grieving because you could just adopt and make it all better.
  2. Here is a copy of The Secret. Possible interpretation: You haven’t had the right mind set yet, honey.
  3. Everything happens for a reason. Yeah, try telling that to a holocaust survivor and see how that goes over.  Not that I am comparing the pain of infertility to the holocaust, but for cryin’ out loud, how is this supposed to help?  Furthermore, how about you tell me “the reason,” smarty pants?
  4. Upon finding out she was pregnant, a friend who was also struggling with fertility issues divulged to me (who she knew was also desperately trying to get pregnant), that she finally felt like “a woman.” I am not sure what that makes me. A man?
  5. And one of my personal favorites—upon excitedly producing a picture of the lake property My Man and I had just purchased, another friend piqued that she hoped it was going to be a picture of a baby we were adopting and how much joy her children and grandchildren give her. Really? I have no comment for this one.
  6. And, finally, let’s not forget “a woman without children has nothing” comment documented in my post It Happened Again.

I guess what I am thinkin’ is that it is pretty darned important to have a firm foundation and support system in place before you disclose your tender, vulnerable infertility and decision to not have children.  I also don’t want to bad mouth the people who made the above comments, they are human and are dealing with a complex set of emotions regarding this issue just as I am.  I do want to dis the insensitivity and sometimes outright boundary violations.  In other words, I want to focus on the behavior and how to effectively convey how it makes me feel without shaming the person who said it, so it can be truly heard while taking good care of myself.  And getting to a place where I can do that is taking real work.  For now, at least, I am incredibly grateful that Angela modeled the type of effective communication I am aiming for by posting her letter and thereby giving me a leg up to “talking taboos.”



  • Mali

    July 4, 2016 at 1:37 am Reply

    Oh yes, all those possible responses! I’m much more likely these days to respond bluntly to any of the comments you have listed. People need to think about what they say, and I’m much more prepared to let them know I think their comments are B-S!

    I cringe at the so-called friend who told you she finally feels like a woman. I guess I’m sorry that she feels the definition of woman is so narrow. And I have to say, the grief and isolation of women who can’t have children in this society is uniquely the experience of, well, women! What could make us feel more like a woman than that?

    I remember your “It happened again” post. My response to that is now one of my most read posts.

    I know that these days, many years into my No Kidding life, I feel it is easier to respond. And so I do. I think it is important to do so. But it is important to do so when we are ready, feeling stronger, less vulnerable. Because the backlash can be tough.

    • Ruby

      July 6, 2016 at 12:18 pm Reply

      I wish people would think more about the stupid comments they make. With that being said, I am still scratching my head over why I feel so compelled to try and make people comfortable for making me uncomfortable with their BS. After all, most of the comments they make, no matter how they try to paint it, are designed to make themselves feel better about my situation.

  • loribeth

    July 5, 2016 at 4:39 pm Reply

    “While I agree it is helpful, even vital, to share, I also know straight up why I often hesitate to do so…” Yes. This. EXACTLY. I find it much easier to be brave & honest from the safe, semi-anonymity of my blog than face to face with someone asking dumb questions and making hurtful remarks. It does get better as you age, though, people tend to ask much less often. 😉

    • Ruby

      July 8, 2016 at 7:57 am Reply

      Oh my Loribeth–this comment ended up in my spam box (thanks a lot Akismet :/). So sorry I didn’t approve it sooner! I am so relieved that I looked in there…I too love the safe anonymity of my blog (and support from people like you). I appreciate how blogging helps me to clarify my ideas, so maybe, with time, I will feel more confident about sharing them with folks who are asking the dumb questions and making the hurtful remarks. I am relieved to hear that it gets better as you age.

  • nicole ciomek

    July 27, 2016 at 1:43 pm Reply

    The adoption thing is the number one thing I’ve gotten over time “You can JUST adopt”. I know people think this will some how be comforting, but we all know it never is. I sort of had less choice in being open since cancer led to my infertility and I learned it is pretty hard to hide having cancer 😉 So most people put it together that it equaled no children and would just blurt out about adoption and surrogacy. It was frustrating, but I knew they were trying to be comforting… to remind me there would still be options.

    • Ruby

      July 27, 2016 at 1:53 pm Reply

      I hear you…I sometimes find the disconnect between their effort to be comforting and the lack of comfort I find in their effort to be painful all by itself, if that makes any sense. I am sorry you have to hear the “you can JUST adopt” comment so often, Nicole.

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