“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” - Audre Lorde, Our Dead Behind Us: Poems
Full disclosure, I know that Audre Lorde’s poems are speaking about racial tensions, sexuality and surviving cancer but when I saw this quote for the first time it resonated with me for the infertility community as well.
I had 4 miscarriages. A friend had a stillborn. Another got pregnant with her first round of IVF and another went multiple miscarriages before conceiving with medication. Some stopped without pursuing fertility treatments and others are going on ten unsuccessful rounds of IVF. All these experiences put us in the same community but they do not make us the same.
I want to see us recognize differences and be empathetic to the person and their experiences rather than just apply the general sympathy that comes with fertility challenges. We need to celebrate what makes us the same while honoring that our journeys are different. The infertility community is made up of many stories and is there to provide hope for those still in the trenches whatever their circumstances may be.
But if there is one thing that really gets under my skin it is when someone with children calls themselves infertile.
If you have kids, you aren’t infertile. You had fertility issues or maybe you have a child and are still having fertility issues (secondary infertility is a very real thing) but you are not infertile.
I am infertile and when people with children say that they are infertile – not only is that nonsense - they make my journey into one of failure. In trying to feel a sense of belonging we can inadvertently brush over the experiences of others.
I miss my babies every damn day, but I didn’t hold them forever sleeping in my arms and I don’t ever want to take that away from someone else. Just like I don’t want the person who hasn’t been pregnant to take away my feelings of loss nor I would I want to belittle their pain in never having the joy (however fleeting) that comes with a positive pregnancy test.
Yes, we are all in this together, but we will make our community so much stronger by acknowledging not only what makes us the same but also what makes us different. Much love.