The Problem with the Vocal Minority

Some friends and I were talking the other day, and the topic of the vocal minority came up in our conversation. You know the ones – the few who talk a lot of shit and shut down all other perspectives. I then started thinking about this concept in relation to my place in the infertility community and the PAIL (Parenting through Adoption/Infertility/Loss) community, and it really hit me how sad & frustrated I am that many of my friends and fellow bloggers have continually censored themselves in their writings about both their joys and their trials, simply out of fear of the vocal minority.

To back up, I believe that there are instances in life where having people who are willing to be a part of the vocal minority is hugely important. We have changed the course of the world for the better by embracing the ideals of members of the vocal minority who had the courage to stand up and say this isn’t right – we need to change. This is true in regards to topics from race to religion, from familial status to sexual orientation and beyond. We have also changed the course of the world for the worse by choosing to embrace the vocal minority’s views of rudeness, fear & judgement instead of kindness, love & equality.

In the Infertility community in particular, it becomes an issue when the vocal minority shuts down long awaited joys, tough conversations and legitimate feelings with cliché statements and judgmental tirades.

Just be grateful…
I’d never complain if *I* had a kid…
Can you believe she posted a picture of her [pee stick, belly picture, ultrasound pic, etc]?

The problem comes when the quiet majority ends up sitting by on the sidelines feeling afraid to share everything from jubilant thoughts to frustrated feelings, simply out of a fear of facing loud criticisms and hurt feelings from the vocal minority.

Last fall I started writing a post about being defensive. There was some crap going around the blogosphere where a few judgey asshats were being incredibly rude about other bloggers’ pregnancy & parenting choices, and it really bothered me because we are all obviously following the paths we think are best for our children or we wouldn’t be choosing those paths. I never published the post because it was mostly a tirade and I felt better once I got it off my chest, but it has stuck with me how important it is to be kind to others – to react with love and not fear – to understand that one person’s joy isn’t the reason for another’s pain – to accept that a person’s voiced frustrations don’t mean she isn’t acutely aware of the blessing of being pregnant/parenting in the first place.

This Saturday will mark 5 years since Charlie and I started trying to build our own family together. Those first couple of years of TTC and infertility struggles were insanely tough on us. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t found this online community of women who got it — these fantastic ladies who never tired of analyzing my temperature spikes and ovulation sticks — these soul sisters who understood my deep longing to be a mother and my deep seated fear that it might never happen.

At the same point, this is a community that wears on you as you move into the pregnancy and parenting realm, because it is a community of women who often struggle to celebrate the joys of others who have moved on before them. Our pain is so deep, our desire to parent is so all encompassing, that sometimes we forget that though we’re allowed to grieve and be frustrated with our own place in the journey, it doesn’t mean that others should be afraid to post a belly picture or a parenting complaint because they don’t want to face our wrath or our tears.

With every year that moves by since first Stella and then Harvey were born, I feel myself healing more and more. We are pretty sure we are done building our family, and with that decision comes some peace and some closure on the TTC/IF aspect of our lives. I feel regret for not following IFers journeys are closely as I once did, yet I find myself exhausted and wary of following those painful journeys too closely because it brings back my own memories of heartache and despair that threaten to swallow me up whole if I step too close to the abyss. It’s a delicate tightrope to walk, and though I still try to offer support in honor of all those who did the same for me over the years, my type of support is changing, and the women to whom I offer my support are changing.

This post sort of rambled in a few different directions, but I’d like to close with this: No matter where you are in your family building journey, remember that love & kindness are what make the world go ’round. Remember to love your neighbor as yourself. Remember how much the support of your friends & family & community meant to you in your darkest moments and give back when & if you can — but to those on both side of the IF struggle, please remember that the challenges don’t end with a child in your arms, and that’s okay. Remember that it’s your right to express joy about your pregnancy, your growing bump, and those first fluttery kicks without writing a disclaimer about your happiness… just like it’s okay to hate being pregnant, to be anxious about childbirth, and to be a little afraid to actually parent after all of those years of trying for just that. Remember that raising children is a blessing — but also remember that they are still frustrating little humans who we are wholly responsible to raise, and it’s okay to be intimidated by the little buggers at times (and to write about it and ask for help!).

Remember above all to treat each other with love and respect and to set the guilt mongering and snide comments aside, because we are all better than that. We deserve better than that. We are all in this world together, no matter what part of the journey of life we are currently on.

 

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21 comments

  1. Well said, Josey!!

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  2. Couldn’t agree more 😘

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  3. What you have said above articulates many of the reasons I needed to leave this party, though I suppose I am still at the end of driveway, unable to get in my car, unsure of how to say goodbye to the small crowd I am finishing a beer with.

    “Just be grateful” is so pervasive, and so very damaging. It silences people.

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  4. Agreeing with all of the comments above. The hypocrisy I find in the IF community infuriates me. With the exception of a few intensely good friends that I’ve made, there has been a LOT of conditional support– “We’re in this together, unless you beat me to the prize. We’re in this together, tagging on ‘fertiles’ until we get pregnant and start doing all the stuff we said we hated to see them do. We’re in this together, unless I think my journey is harder than yours.” A lot of things I’ve seen over the past few years would have played out VERY differently if people, on the whole, actually supported one another. I wish everyone in the greater IF community could read this and hope that many of them do.

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  5. Beautifully put Josey. Really beautifully put.

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  6. This post is so well written and I agree with everything you said!

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  7. I don’t have a blog, but YES I agree wholeheartedly. My first 2 children were a tough TTC journey, then a few losses and my last 2 children were much like your pregnancy with Harvey (first month trying for both) so I can appreciate both ends of the spectrum, as well as the early loss part. It gives a unique perspective I think having been though both “sides” of it.

    I also don’t read as much as I used to, because I am in a different place now. I will never, ever forget, but I can’t let that overtake my journey/parenting now.

    Well said Josey. 100 percent with all the comments above.

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  8. St. Elsewhere · · Reply

    Even though I try to keep up with the people I originally connected with in the blogosphere, I do find that things have changed.

    I started as an IFer trying to have a baby. I had lot of support then. Then I lost my baby. The support overflowed.

    But things have dried since I slipped into the parenting mode. Lot of people who were there where when I was struggling have gone away. Even if they are reading my blog, not many of them are commenting. I can fairly understand that it must be painful to read my updates.

    I like their silence, and wish them well. And you are correct. Kindness must always be the currency. I do not envy what others achieved before me. I hope to not be subjected to it myself.

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  9. I agree with what you say. I don’t have a blog but have experienced this in other aspects of my life and find other people reactions really hard to understand. All the blogs I have followed all seem to have had baby number two or just pregnant. We have just made the hard decision to stop trying with just our one beautiful boy. I think the blogs I have read have made me sad for me but oh so happy for them as I would never wish bad things to happen to people. How can being awful make your own life any better. I definitely live by treat others as you want to be treated.

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  10. Though I am certainly aware of the judgey shit that goes on, I self-censor out of “survivor” guilt more than fear of the vocal minority.

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    1. Yep, I get this for sure. It’s obviously part of the reason many of us hesitate to post pictures and things as well, and that’s totally understandable. That being said, I’m just tired of so many people feeling like they shouldn’t be allowed to express their joys & concerns because of the rants & feelings of others who are in a different place than them. It’s hard when we’re not all in the same place at the same time, but that’s life too.

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      1. I totally agree. I joined in a conversation that inadvertently offended newly pregnant people last week and I felt bad but I just thought I was chatting about someone’s blog post with the person who wrote it, ya know? It certainly made me feel like I couldn’t talk about the subject any more. On the other hand, I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings either so argh.

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  11. […] that I can’t say anywhere else… That’s the part that wins for now, helped in large part by this fantastic post of Josey’s. I’m going to write for me, not worrying about those who once read and now don’t or those who […]

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  12. I agree 100% with what you’ve written here; people do not need to censor themselves or rein in their joy for the sake of others. I have never bought into the idea that we should be anything less than completely authentic with our feelings.

    I suppose that is why I finally found the courage, after reading this post, to write about my own struggle to WANT people to acknowledge my infertility in some way, or at least to acknowledge their own luck. But I don’t know if that’s fair… I think that it’s probably not, and yet the sting of envy I have felt at some recent pregnancy announcements in “real life” has sent me reeling…

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  13. I agree *mostly* with what you say here. It’s common sense. Celebrate your joys, be authentic to yourself, rant when you want to. But I also, for myself, believe in a practice I learned in relationship training at work. I believe in mirroring your audience, in a way. If your audience (or in the blog realm, commenters) are primarily still struggling to get pregnant, I do think it’s tacky to rant about how much you hate being pregnant. I’m not talking about bitching about morning sickness or fatigue, but things like the weight gain and overall, “I hate being pregnant.”. I’ve only seen this a few times, and never from those I comment on, but I have seen it and it is infuriating. I do feel like if you’re still blogging under the label of infertility, then you should be sensitive, in a way, to those struggling who may find you via an internet search on “infertility blog.”.

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    1. But how do you know who most of your readers are? I started blogging BEFORE infertility and I blog about things OTHER than infertility, and many of my readers are from other realms of the internet. However, even though I rarely blog about IF now, a google search will always bring up my blog b/c I’ve talked about it in the past, so where does that leave me? (genuinely curious here – not being argumentative *grin*). Also, even while in the throes of TTC, I never begrudged ppl who didn’t like being pregnant. When I got pregnant and was frickin’ miserable sick and hated it, I feel like I had every right to talk about that on here. It’s the difference between talking to the world and talking to 1 person. Of COURSE if I was talking 1-on-1 with someone in the midst of IF I would be sensitive to their place in the journey… but when talking to the world via my blog – my cheap version of therapy – I don’t feel like it’s necessary (or even healthy, really) to have to censor myself or my true feelings about what I’m going through.

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      1. You have a long history on your blog, long before you started TTC. Your header says nothing about infertility. You don’t advertise yourself/blog as an IF blog. Many people do advertise an IF blog. Hell, my header says something about parenting after IF. You bet I feel responsible for being a touch sensitive to those still trying.

        In regards to knowing who reads you, I’m talking about being cognizant of your commenters. You can’t be sensitive to those you don’t know are reading you, but I definitely feel a bit sensitive to those who comment on my blog.

        By no means do I expect anyone to agree with me. It’s why I said in my comment that I feel this way for MYSELF. I’ve read enough blogs to know that how I feel about this is not the norm.

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      2. Also, I follow and lend commenting support on a lot of IF blogs. I don’t know why I do, maybe because we’re not done yet building our family. I find this community and the people in it fascinating and like to be supportive to those still in, or even newly in, the trenches. The last thing I want is for one of those ladies to click over to my blog and read a ranty post about pregnancy or my bratty kid or my sleep deprivation. This is probably the main reason I censor myself. I don’t want to cause more pain for someone already experiencing more than enough.

        But again, I know I’m not the norm. And that’s ok!

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  14. I echo everything you say and would add that a blog-reading rule of thumb, especially infertility blogs, is not to take any post out of context. My two or three posts complaining about pregnancy do not outweigh the two years worth of posts documenting my infertility. Luckily, I do not have the energy or time to give any fucks if one of my posts is taken out of context. 😉

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    1. Hahaha. Amen.

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