well it’s already been an action packed morning and it’s not even 8 am!
a few days ago I posted the image I took of my husband giving me the first ever intramuscular shot into my bottom on a rather large professional photography group on facebook. the comments ranged from sympathizing to empathizing, which always fuels my heart on so many different levels.
my kitty woke me up at 4:30 this morning, and much against my better judgement, after a few minutes of not being able to fall back asleep- I went on my phone. there was a new comment on the photo, to which a woman wrote: “adopt. there are so many kids that need a home and here [you] are struggling through pain and years of waiting just to make more kids, just for the sake of it. sad.”
thud. a deep pang right into the heart.
I’m used to the advice of “just relax”, “try this herb”, or even the simple question of “why don’t you just adopt?”. these kinds of remarks, while honestly not intrinsically helpful, always come from a place of good. this…..well, this just hurt. it was condescending and insensitive and cruel.
I have a general rule with interactions on the internet of ‘don’t feed the trolls’; I didn’t want to fuel a fire even though I saw this as an opportunity to educate. so instead, I posted what happened in a secret infertility group I’m part of on facebook. I wanted input on what I should say, or if I should say anything at all.
my goodness, I love these women. you’ll never hear me stop saying how incredibly beautiful and powerful and amazing it is to be part of this community. my fellow infertility warrior sisters. it’s a bond like no other. here I was, lying in bed, in the dark, at 5am, having very deep and personal conversations with women I’m probably never going to meet in person, about how those words made us feel.
ultimately, I decided to private message the commenter. I took bits and pieces of the conversations I had within my support group, and did my best to try to let her know the impact of what she wrote to me.
this is what I said:
“I wanted to personally message you about the comment you made on my photo that I posted in lookslikefilm.
I have been documenting and sharing my husband and my journey for nearly a year. I have connected with hundreds, if not thousands of people, who have supported, encouraged, offered advice, or thanked me for making them feel less alone. your comment was by far the most hurtful and condescending remark I have ever received. I don’t know if this was intentional or not, but as an advocate for breaking the taboo of infertility- I cannot let you not know how much your words deeply hurt me.
the desire to be a mother and for wanting a child isn’t “for the sake of it”. it’s not a superficial want, but a biological need. I have wanted to be a mother my whole life. I have worked in early childhood education, as an infant caregiver for many years, helping foster and nurture over 80 infants. my photography work centers around capturing the authenticity of children and babies.
you know what is “sad”? my tears every month for the last 2+ years. my feelings of my body failing me. me feeling like “less than” a woman. me going through injections and medications and hormones and debt because I ache for a little person of my own. THAT is sad. and you’re right. I am sad. but I’m also determined and hopeful.
I married into a family of adoptive siblings. my husband is 1 of 7 kids. 5 of which are adopted. the adoptive process isn’t a quick fix to not being able to get pregnant right away on your own. it is just as painful, emotional, and expensive. it is unfair to place the responsibility of adopting on women struggling with infertility. would you say the same thing to fertile couples?
I will never, ever wish this journey on anyone. and if there comes a day you decide you want a family of your own, I hope you never feel the absolute pain and loss that comes with this world and this fight. and if you have children of your own, I hope you cherish them- for they are true miracles.
I’ve found a new purpose in my life of helping other women feel less alone. I’ve connected and made lifelong friendships with others who are fighting the same fight I am. there is a selflessness, sensitivity, and force within this infertility community that is beautiful and incredible, and I am so grateful for it. this fight is so much greater than just “wanting a baby”, and while I recognize that you may not relate or understand or even sympathize- I urge you to be sensitive to those who are struggling. You have no idea how hurtful those words were, and I beg you to never say anything like that to anyone again.”
I was able to see that she saw my message. and a few minutes later, her comment was deleted from the image. she never responded back, and I don’t think she will. but I’m proud for what I did. I stood up for myself and my community. as much as I didn’t want to confront her (I’m super non-confrontational), I couldn’t let her think those words were okay. I couldn’t let her ever have the opportunity to say something like that to someone else and not think about the emotional consequences.
nothing about this journey offers a quick fix. there are lots of alternatives and options, and every couple chooses how to navigate what they are willing to consider and when. from adoption, to surrogacy, to purchasing donor eggs or sperm, to IVF- it is a deeply, deeply personal choice between a couple. there is no right or wrong answer, ever. and I’ll be damned if anyone, ANYONE, makes another infertility warrior feel bad for how they are choosing to fight their fight to parenthood.