How to roast an infertile

A couple of days ago I did something both spontaneous and stupid.

I was browsing on the internet and counting down the minutes until 5pm Friday, so I could leave work and start my weekend. I clicked onto a popular site that is completely geared towards women. Think articles about cooking, celebrity gossip, fitness and most definitely raising kids. Even though heaps of the articles on the site are about babies, I usually feel comfortable enough ignoring them.

But not that day.

At the top of the home page was an article about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mum. The title immediately flared both my curiousity and my anger, so I decided I had to click the link. Oh to go back in time and stop myself from reading that story…

The article was written by a journalist who had recently given birth to her first child. At the top of the page was a gorgeous professional photo of the author, with her hair and make-up perfect, cradling her baby. In the photograph she looked happy and contented.

But the article was completely different. It went on and on about how stay-at-home mothers are invisible. Nobody cares about them or pays attention to them. The author complained that all she got to do all day was sit at home and feed her baby, change her baby’s nappies and eat family sized blocks of chocolate. She lamented the fact that she had gone from a fast paced job to a hellish sea of nothing but babies.

She then admitted the only time of the day where anyone paid any attention to her was every afternoon when she took her baby out for a walk and everybody on the street stopped to admire and compliment her gorgeous daughter. On one such occasion while out for a stroll, a drunk man in a pub leered and wolf whistled at her, basically insinuating she was a MILF. She was apparently so incensed by his behaviour she decided to turn her life around, start eating healthier and think more positively.

I was completely taken aback by the article. I was glad that it had ended the way it had, with the author realising she wasn’t helping herself or her daughter by feeling sorry for herself. But I still couldn’t believe that she actually thought nobody cared about mothers with newborns, or that she was somehow a victim because she had to raise a small child.

And here’s where the stupid and spontaneous part comes into my story. You guys, I decided to write a comment
on the article.

I tried to be very diplomatic about it because I didn’t want to insult the author, the way I felt she had insulted me. So I explained that I had been through four failed IVF cycles, experienced pregnancy loss, and desperately yearned to be a mother. I told her I would happily lay down on the road and let a car run over me if it meant I could have a child, and I would gladly live in a ‘hellish sea of babies’.

But then I went on to say that I thought she looked like a great mum who was doing the best she could, and her daughter looked lovely and happy. I basically just wanted to remind her that she was very lucky and even when things are bad, that she should remember that she was blessed.

Feeling quite pleased with myself, I posted the comment anonymously and then carried on with the rest of my day. I thought my perspective might give the author, and other readers, something to think about. I thought I’d done a good thing.

Yesterday I happened to log back onto the website in search of a recipe for Christmas slice, and saw the article again. I wondered if anyone had left a comment under my own, so I clicked back into the story again.

Basically, all hell had broken loose. The internet mummies, who typically spend such a large part of their days nastily attacking each other and tearing each other down, had all united against me. I was an infertile in a sea of mothers. They’d sniffed me out immediately, and closed ranks against me. I did not belong. I was enemy number one.

A lot of the mothers told me I was horrid, and I had no right to say what I’d said. They told me to shut the hell up. They told me I was insensitive, uncaring, and it was people like me who caused postnatal depression. My lack of sympathy for the author was apparently grossly unethical and frightening. More than one commenter told me that someone dying of cancer would gladly lie down on the road and let a car run over them if it meant they could just be infertile, and there were lots of people out there with problems far worse than mine. It was suggested that if I was so sad about the fact I couldn’t have children, why didn’t I just adopt one. How dare I say something negative to a new mother who was struggling to come to terms with her new routine. How dare I suggest that her life was somehow easier than mine. It was pointed out that I was clearly mentally unwell.

At first I just stood there, with my ipad propped up on the kitchen bench, staring intensely at the words on the screen. You know that sensation when you slip and land on your tailbone, and all the wind is knocked out of your lungs? For a minute you can’t move or breathe and you’re consumed with pain? That’s akin to what I was feeling. Then I started to panic. And then I started to hyperventilate.

I was shocked by how nasty these strangers on the internet had been. Bullying hurts, even when it’s online. I hadn’t meant to insult anyone. I’d told the author she was a good mum and her baby was lovely. I hadn’t expected such a vitriolic reaction.

Suddenly all these thoughts started running through my head…

Why had I read that friggen article? Why had I commented on it? Why had I ventured out of my little infertile bloggers community, where I am safe and protected, and surrounded by women who understand me? Why did these people think I was trying to be insulting? Why did I think I was allowed to comment on an article in a parenting community, when I don’t have any children? Why was it clearly not okay for me to have a negative opinion of the author, but it was quite acceptable for all these women to have a negative view of me? I am a horrible person. I am selfish. Infertility is nothing compared to what others go through. I should take that advice and shut the hell up.

Then the rational side of my brain kicked in and I started to negate the stupid arguments these commenters had made.

First of all, nobody can directly cause postnatal depression. It’s brought on by a hormone and chemical imbalance in the brain, following pregnancy and childbirth. The author did not have postnatal, but even if she did I was not the cause of it. It was irresponsible of these women to suggest that.

Secondly, it is certainly understandable that new mothers struggle. They’re tired, confused and overwhelmed. If a new mother came to me seeking help or support I would gladly do everything I could for her. But this was not a new mother reaching out to her family and friends for help. This was an article on a large, popular website written by an award-winning journalist, carefully crafted to generate interest. The headline sucked you in! The author had written a controversial opinion piece. It was meant to be thought provoking. It had provoked a thought in me, so I had left a comment. Wasn’t I simply doing what the author wanted me to do when I voiced my own opinion?!

I wasn’t off-the-cuff leaving comments on the internet about how new mothers need to suck it up. I was commenting on an article about how tough new mothers have it compared to the rest of the human population. I was allowed my opinion on the article, and I didn’t see why I was being roasted for it.

Thirdly, I have never in my life said that I have it harder than people dying of cancer. That is a gross exaggeration of my opinion. If the article was written by someone dying of cancer, and I’d left a comment saying “Suck it up Buttercup, I’m infertile. Try that out for a day or two and see how you like it.” I would expect to be abused by everyone on the website.

But I was comparing having a child to childlessness. I was comparing two sides of a coin. This lady was basically pointing out how awful it is to be the mother of a young child, and I was counter pointing out that it’s even worse to not be the mother of a young child (when you badly want to be).

But comparing infertility and terminal cancer is like comparing apples and oranges. It was not what I had intended at all. Of course people dying of cancer have it much worse than me. I never said they didn’t! I’m not trying to say my problems are worse than anyone else’s. Am I making sense at all here?

Finally, I feel I should address the good old “why don’t you just adopt” throwaway condescending line from mothers who have never experienced infertility. Oh my gosh! You guys! I should just adopt! This never occured to me before now! How silly that I’ve been wasting my time and money on IVF! I can just go down to the shop and adopt a baby! It’s practically the same as adopting a stray dog from the RSPCA!

Never mind the fact that Australia has the lowest adoption rate in the developed world. Never mind that adoption here takes an average of nine years, once you even get onto the waiting list, and many couples “time out” because they get too old waiting to reach the top of the list. Never mind that I can afford to go through at least eight to ten cycles of IVF for the same price as adopting one child. All my problems are solved! Yippee!!

In all seriousness though, I just want to sincerely apologise. I genuinely never meant to offend anyone with the comment I left on that article. I feel like saying that, even here on my blog, will somehow get this weight off my chest. I didn’t mean to hurt the author, or anyone else who read my comment.

Maybe the others who commented didn’t mean to hurt me, although I suspect they did. Maybe my tears and sorrow were for nothing. But don’t worry, I have well and truly learned my lesson. I feel awful. I feel like a sub-human. I feel unworthy to breathe the same air as everyone else.

I will never, ever, ever step outside my blogging community again. I’ve noticed that some of the nastier comments have now been removed by moderators, but it’s too late to unsee what I have seen. I won’t try to give fertile people perspective. I see now that they really, honestly don’t want it. They will just resent me for trying. They don’t get it. They’ll never get it. They don’t want to get it. They don’t want to even try.

It’s two days until Christmas. That author will be celebrating her first Christmas with her new baby. Her first Christmas as a mother. I will be miserable, and barren, and alone. If anyone is angry at me for my comment on that article, maybe they can remember that fact and they will feel satisfied that I have served an adequate punishment for my words.

Now I’m going to push this whole incident out of my mind and try not to think of it again. Like the author, I want to turn this story around and end on a positive note.

So here’s three great things about being me, so I can remind myself that I’m lucky to be me:

1. Later this week I’ll be jetting off to Malayisa to enjoy my first overseas holiday. I’m so grateful.

2. Even though this is my last week in my job, I get to go back to another job next year. Sure, it’s less pay, but so many people are out of work at the moment. I’m so lucky to have a permanent position.

3. I have amazing friends and family who rally around me to support me all the time. I know not everyone has someone they can turn to when things get tough.

See, isn’t that a much nicer way to end a post? 🙂

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15 thoughts on “How to roast an infertile

  1. You did nothing morally wrong! Your only mistake was going back to look at the comments after you posted! Those b*tches are called “sanctimommies” and you can say nothing that will please them except praise for them–praise that they don’t deserve. I’m sorry you had to deal with that BS & please don’t take it personally! XO

  2. Oh my goodness! You did nothing wrong! Nothing at all. The whole time I kept thinking.. “Seriously? How terrible it is to say at home ALL day with your little miracle??” I know you read the post I just wrote about my SIL.. it’s the same thing. It’s sooooo terrible your boobs are sore even though you get to hold your 4th baby in your arms. I’d take that any day over this battle. YOU DID NOTHING WRONG. Even if you got one mother on that blog to think, “Maybe I should quit complaining” it was worth it. The reason they attacked you is because they know you’re right. They know they should shut up and quit complaining. I will never feel sorry for someone that has a baby and then complains about it. I know parenting is not easy, but I guarantee it doesn’t tear you apart like this battle over and over again. I’m so mad for you! You were so right though when you wrote, ” I won’t try to give fertile people perspective. I see now that they really, honestly don’t want it. They will just resent me for trying. They don’t get it. They’ll never get it. They don’t want to get it. They don’t want to even try.” They don’t get it and they never will. I know you regret posting, but I’m happy you spoke up for us even if I didn’t read the article.

  3. Ditto all of the above! What a bunch of cows! They just got pissed off because you’ve ruffled up their reality…they should be ashamed of themselves! It’s just a bunch of close-minded losers who value materialistic crap over a human life. You had every right to leave a very diplomatic comment…they just couldn’t handle reality!

  4. All I can think through my anger is “THIS is why people need to be more aware!!!” Something I try so hard to remember is, it’s usually guilty people that spend the most time being defensive! I’m so sorry those women were so insensitive. You were extremely brave for doing what you did and didn’t deserve to be stoned for it. It’s people like you that will change mindsets. For all the negative comments you got, I can guarantee that there were women that read your words and completely agreed, but were too cowardly to rally with you. Props, kudos & a standing ovation to you!! ❤️❤️

  5. I wish I could have been there to close ranks with you. Absolutely everything you’ve written here is how I would have felt to, including how you felt afterwards. I’ve read articles like that before, but never had the balls to write something. Even though it didn’t go over well I’m proud of you for trying. In my mind the biggest difference between a ‘poor suffering’ new mom and us is that they had and have choices. They chose to have a baby, they choose to be stay at home moms, they choose to sit at home instead of finding help or support. We have no choices. We didn’t get to choose if we’d rather be infertile or be a stay at home mom. AND its just ridiculous to say that the world doesn’t respect or pay attention to new moms, they are practically idolized.

  6. This makes me want to give you a hug and a high five. I often go to the dark side and read these articles. I convinced that some are designed to get me going – the other day I saw one about having a baby when you’re “not a baby person” , or I commented on one about “what I learned when I was pregnant” ( I said I learned that being pregnant didn’t mean that I have a baby). I’m so upset that “the people” reacted that way. I get it when people dint have IF on their radar, but to bad mouth you for it. Punches for all!

  7. i’d love the web address for the article. fertiles banding together have NOTHING on us infertiles. i say we turn the tables…
    enjoy every moment of your vacation! so envious right now.
    Merry Christmas!

  8. I am so sorry about even wading in the fertile sea. How bloody awful! It doesn’t make it better, but I hope (HOPE) that most of those woman have no idea about what they were even saying. I can’t even imagine that they should…that those precious babes they currently are blessed with could only have been with them after countless treatments and countless dollars. You are amazing because of all this struggle but also despite all of this. Heart you!!!!

  9. People can be incredibly cruel online. Sorry you got more than you bargained for. But here is a small consolation from the other end of infertility: having gone through hell and back to finally conceive, I am so much more grateful for every sleepless night and diaper blow out than they’ll ever be. And no amount of quiet uneventful days filled with nothing but baby will ever make me regret or deeply miss my life before becoming a mother. The higher the tree, the sweeter the fruit:) Hugs.

  10. I’m so, so sorry that you had such a horrible experience – personally, I agree with you. Not only were those harpies really nasty – and how ironic to call someone out by saying they can’t possibly understand when they, themselves, can’t possibly understand what dealing with infertility in all its gory glory entails!! I, myself, have been struggling with infertility for a long time – never been pregnant to date. I’ve all by sequestered myself at home for fear of the constant insensitive comments by the few we did tell; or predatory, inquisitive nosiness from those who don’t know for sure but who, given our ages, suspect. All I can say is that what I’m trying to learn is to accept not only how people approach things differently but how the grass always seems greener on the other side. Perhaps this author previously thought that having a baby and staying home would be living high on the hog – and now she misses her job. I got equally incensed by an article I read last year where a woman not only complained about her fecundity and ensuing unplanned pregnancy, but actually referred to her unborn child as “the blob”. Either way, good on you for saying something – too many people these days think the internet is a free-for-all on mob mentality, leaving others to fear “retaliation” for what, after all, is just an opinion in a free, democratic society. HUGS!!

  11. Also? I don’t think you owe anyone an apology. I think the whole “oh IF is so much less bad than terminal disease” notion is PREPOSTEROUS. Makes you want to say – oh yeah, than what are you whining about being a mom for? WAY WAY down on the totem pole – especially since, presumably, she decided to try to get pregnant and leave her job. So…all those choices and then a pity party? Me thinks NOT! And I also wanted to say something about the whole adoption thing – seriously, people who say that to someone struggling with IF need to be smacked upside the head. One, it makes me want to say – oh yeah, why don’t you just fork one of yours over? Second, who’s going to give you the money for it?? While it seems far more complicated in Australia than it does in the US, here you’re looking at $25-50K (US) for a single baby. You know, the kind that’s already conceived, already going to be born anyway – and yet you have all these ridiculous adoption websites where prospective “parents” are jockeying for position, trying to vie for the “favor” of someone who the agency/website tries to bribe with free iPads, iPhones etc. To say nothing of the fact that bulk of the exorbitant adoption fees are unexplained/undetailed as “other costs” from what I’ve seen – further confirmed by the fact that if you adopt someone’s child without all the hullabaloo, the legal fees involved are closer to about $2K. HMPF!

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