I have had this on my mind a lot lately. Partially from judgements I find myself making, and partially from things I’ve read both on other blogs and IF related message boards. I’m really perplexed as to why we infertiles seem to think this way.
The way I mean is assigning a hierarchy to infertility. For example only needing Clomid isn’t as bad needing IUI which isn’t as bad as needing IVF which isn’t as bad as not even IVF working. I find myself making these comparisons in the sense that I think of infertile women, who have achieved “the goal”, but who haven’t experienced loss as being “less infertile” than I am. Where the fuck do I get off. I mean seriously, who am I to judge another person’s pain? So, I’ve been pretty critical of myself for this tendency.
Until… I started noticing the same kind of rhetoric popping up in other places. More often than not in IVF blogs, but also in some message boards. (Now, I am NOT calling anyone out, I am NOT talking about you. I am just talking. As you’ve seen above I’m as guilty as anyone else for this kind of thinking.) I started noticing comments that insinuated if you can get pregnant using Clomid you are less infertile than if you have to have IVF. And that ruffled me, after all, I got pregnant on Clomid. I got a little worked up even, does loss count for nothing? I’m less of an infertile than “you” because I can get pregnant more easily, even though I have been trying longer and have been pregnant many times with no baby? No, I’m definitely more infertile than “you.” Of course, this is the point where I caught myself, called myself a moron for competing over infertility and realized, this is probably how other people feel when they read my comments insinuating that they are less infertile than I because they’ve never experienced loss.
All of this got me to thinking: Why do we feel the need to categorize and assign a more than/less than status to other infertiles? More importantly why do we feel the need to know and assert our position in this undocumented hierarchy? Why is it so important to segregate ourselves into these categories?
I still don’t have a full answer, but I do think that it’s partially for validation. So much of infertility invalidates us as women. Even if we’re dealing with male factor, the fact that WE can’t have a baby makes us feel like less of woman. At least it makes me feel like less of a woman. I personally take comfort in having a diagnosis and having a reason. In not being “unexplained.” Because that makes it less my fault. It gives me a sense of validation, in that I haven’t failed as a woman, my body has failed me. So, when someone else with “my” diagnosis or treatment protocol has a baby, I have to find a way to process that. In a nutshell, it comes down to me or her. I can be less of a woman, or she can be less infertile. I think you can guess what my very insecure mind chooses.
Before long, though, you see more and more and more of your “infertile” friends having babies. Which is what you want for them. (Let’s just assume, “you” means “me, and others who think like me, but I could be on my own here”) Now, everyone is more a woman. Obviously, they must be “less inifertile” too. Then after a while, it becomes all too easy to start lumping women into these groups before you even know them. All women who have success with a treatment protocol that did work for you, must by default be less infertile than you. So, it’s a coping mechanism.
The problem is it’s a coping mechanism that has the ability to hurt our sisters. To hurt the very ones we aim to support and from whom we seek support. I think of my blogland friends as my sisters in this fight. I truly desire that every one of us get to hold at least one baby in our arms. I want each one of us to have the ability to become mothers on our own terms. Whatever those terms end up being. I don’t have the answer to the hierarchy question. I know it’s a coping mechanism, I know it can hurt, I know it has hurt me, but I still don’t know how to stop it.