Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Truth and Hope December 7, 2012

Crossed fingersThe “hope” discussion surfaced again this week, when Pamela at Silent Sorority wrote an eloquent post about the dangers of misinformation regarding infertility.

Pamela brought to light the writings of another infertility awareness advocate, Julie, who criticized celebrity infertiles (now celebrity parents) Guiliana and Bill Rancic for publicly telling infertile couples, “If you stick with it and never quit, it will pay off.”

You can read what both Pamela and Julie have to say on the topic here.

I heartily agree that this kind of blind encouragement gives people a false sense of hope that infertility is always surmountable. There are enough of us here to shout that belief soundly down to the ground. I’ve written about this kind of “don’t give up hope” comment on this blog in the past and how paralyzing it can be to someone who doesn’t want to keep hoping for a miracle.

But what do you say instead?

I remember working with a young woman who was planning to start trying for a family. I can well remember calling on the wisdom of my experience and offering her my unsolicited, yet sage, warning that getting pregnant might not happen immediately. She got knocked up the next month and I ate crow. I hated that I hadn’t been more positive and could only paint for her the most dire of pictures.

But experience comes hard-earned and I bet Guiliana and Bill know that. It’s one thing to be positive and encouraging, but a little truth and reality can go a long way. Perhaps Guiliana and Bill would have done better to say, “Yes it worked out for us, and yes, we are among the lucky ones.”

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9 Responses to “Truth and Hope”

  1. Gail K Says:

    Guiliana and Bill Rancic need to amend their statement, and then it would be correct: “If you stick with it and never quit AND HAVE ENDLESS SOURCES OF MONEY AND TIME, it will pay off.” Sadly, for most women, it comes down to the cost of continuing to try to have a child whether biologically or through adoption and that is the determining factor. The other factor is that time is not always on our side. If you spend years trying to have a child, eventually you will feel to old to parent. The “old” part is different for every person depending on their health and circumstances, but there comes a time when you don’t want to be the oldest mom at your kid’s kindergarten party and you worry about living until your child graduates from high school. These are the other two elements that make the most difference to most of the women that I’ve encountered in my infertility journey.

  2. Maria Says:

    I recently had this conversation with a woman in my yoga class: Do you have children? No. You are young, you have plenty of time. No, I’m going to be 50 in a few years I just look fabulous for my age. Laugh. Well, now people can have children at any age. No, that’s not true. People my age are having babies using someone else’s eggs and tricking your body into thinking it’s younger. I have never lived my life that way, Everything I do is natural. And, I’ve found that when I try to force something so that I get what I want, I usually end up miserable. So I trust the universe know what’s best for me. Silence. I don’t have children either, it’s nice to meet someone like me. Thanks. We both smile.

    I think the universe led me to that woman for a reason that day.

    I also think Guiliana is so happy to have her baby she said something stupid. She handled breast cancer awareness much better because she lived through it. I can’t imagine her saying you can beat breast cancer if you never give it up because she knows better than to jinx herself. When someone else gives birth to a baby and hands it over to you, you don’t have to worry about the jinx anymore. But I hope she comes around. Although those that travel from infertile to mommy rarely do and are happy to leave us behind.

  3. Quasi-Momma Says:

    I agree. The don’t give up message is misleading because they had the resources to make it happen. Not everyone has their fortune.

    I liked what you said about the advice you gave that was overly cautious. I feel the same way quite a bit. This experience jades you in ways you never expected. A FB acquaintance recently posted news about her grandson and someone commented that “good things happen when you have faith.” I felt such as sense of anger reading that. I hate it when people say things like that. Because if you are one of those people who had faith, but still didn’t get what they wanted, you feel inadequate.

    Sometimes you can have very strong faith and still lose what is most precious to you, and that includes your dreams. Not everyone gets the happy ending they desire, but they still have to carry on. Those people we see very few of, if any, in the media.

  4. Klara Says:

    Great post, Lisa!

    And even if you have endless sources of time and money, it might not pay off.
    I know what I am talking about. I had 10 IVFs. No baby.

    (I do have lots of free time. I do not have lots of money. It is only that I live in one of few countries in the world where we have 6 IVF treatments completely free of charge).

  5. Carmel Munro Says:

    I read the Silent Sorority discussion with great interest all the time thinking this is what I have been saying for years!! It is a shame that attitudes have still not changed in all those years My husband and myself resigned ourselves to “childfree living” about 10 years ago after approx 7 yrs of ART procedures due to male factor infertility -(4 IVF/ICSI, 4 FET, 1 DI, 1 IVF with donor). Options for adoption in Australia are very limited and cannot be pursued while undergoing fertility treatment.
    While in the midst of IVF treatments I was a contributing member of an online newsgroup (alt.infertility) – below is an extract from one of my posts on the newsgroup over 12 years ago – just a warning – this has a very “Christina” tone for those who are no so inclined.
    > I delight in reading messages regarding good pg news but am saddened and frustrated by those who go on to say such things as “Dont give up” “Keep the faith” “It WILL happen to you” and such like. I think there are very good reasons why quite a few woman, having struggled with infertility for up to and over ten years stop trying!! These women ,especially those who have no choice but to use advanced medical procedures such as IVF, GIFT, ICSI, etc, have recognized that the constant battle with IF is capable of slowly destroying all the other important aspects of their lives. (relationships, mental health, physical health). They have made a conscious decision to stop putting all their emotional and physical energy into a battle that they have NO GUARANTEE of winning. They have decided to concentrate on enriching other areas of their lives
    whether that be their relationships, careers, church activities, social welfare, etc. Or they have decided to create their families by other means,adoption, surrogacy, etc. I personally know of women who continued the baby chase until they reached menopause!! without success. Many of these women were good, church going Christians, but they were not apparently “rewarded with a miracle”or “blessed by God”. They entered retirement with not only no children, but with what they perceived as nothing else of substance in their lives. What about the countless Christian women down through the centuries who were childless to the day they died never “rewarded with a miracle”? Were they never “blessed by God”? Or what of those righteous women we read of in the bible who did not have children, or those of whom we are unaware if they
    had children or not, their importance in the Bible being for some other quality or feat? I do not believe that motherhood is the only role for women, or having a child our only “blessing from God” or that God “rewards” or “punishes” us
    in this life. I do believe that God has a plan and purpose for our lives that may not include our own children. I am not going to “waste” all of the most productive years of my life chasing something I WANT that maybe GOD DOESN’T WANT for me.
    For this reason we have set certain limits on our treatment and when that time comes, if we have not been successful, we will be channelling our energies into other avenues. That decision will not mean we have “lost faith” in God!! It will mean that we are, as always, open to whatever plan or purpose God has with us, working with him in the development of our characters for whatever role He has for us in this life and the life to come. I joy with those who have attained their dream and desire for children. They have truly received ONE of the many blessings God may choose to bestow upon us. I pray that their new roles in life will bring all the happiness and satisfaction that they have dreamed and hoped for. I admire and respect the courage and determination of those woman who for years on end battle with IF. I also admire and respect those woman who when faced with the prospect of advanced medical intervention in their IF decide to not to start the battle. I admire those women who having commenced the battle, set limits beyond which they will not continue, choosing to then concentrate on other aspects of their lives.>
    Twelve years ago, my husbands health had deteriorated to a stage where he could no longer work and so our finances were such that further efforts in this “baby chase” were no longer available. So we had to resign ourselves to “child-free living”. The past 12 years have not been easy – but I truly find that that is because of other peoples attitudes more than anything!! We are now both nearing 50 and yet relatives, friends, acquaintances still feel they think they know better and question our decisions regarding “giving up” on having children!! They feel they have the right to advise us on how to live our “child-free life” even though they are not in the same circumstances!!
    Therefore I agree that more information rather than misinformation by publications and public figures will be the only way we can overcome the attitudes prevalent in society.

  6. Jenn Says:

    I really hate when people say the don’t give up, have faith and it will happen or anything similiar to what Giuliana and Bill said. Sure if I had tons of money, I could do a few more IVF cycles or find a surrogate, but unfortunately I don’t have the money these celebrities have. I’ve had family tell me they just know it will happen for me and I just have to believe, and maybe in the early years of my journey that wasn’t so bad, but almost 10 years later I don’t want to hear things like that.

  7. bubli Says:

    It is about money, time, what you choose to do, and luck. They wanted to be encouraging to others, and just didn’t think. I don’t share my story with people just starting the path to conceive or adopt, because they deserve to enjoy their moment and dreams.

    I have an interesting perspective working at a large women and children’s hospital. Being childless isn’t something I love, but I see many people who have children or families suffering even more. I am so grateful that as painful as I find learning to deal with being childless (we only found out over the last month), I don’t experience what some other people do because I don’t know that I could survive that.

  8. Mali Says:

    These days I roll my eyes at comments like “work hard and it will pay off.” It’s easy to say that if you’re the 1 in a million (or thousand, or hundred) that something worked for. But what if you’re the 1 in a million who had bad luck? Does that mean you didn’t try hard? Of course not.

    So I wish the celebrities and others (including in the ALI community) who have been the lucky ones would – as you say in your last paragraph – simply be honest and acknowledge that. That they’ve been lucky – through no grand design, or answering of prayers, or reward for efforts, or that they are more deserving than any others. Because to say otherwise is insulting to all those who tried so hard, and would have been such wonderful parents.

    As for the question “What do you say instead?” (which I think is a great question). To someone like your co-worker, I now say something simple like “it isn’t easy for everyone, but I hope it is for you.” But for those who are facing difficulties already, an acknowledgement that it is hard, and feels so unfair, helps them know they’re not alone.

  9. loribeth Says:

    I loved Pamela’s post, & I love and agree with this discussion here too. 🙂


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