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.