Friend or Coworker Clueless About Infertility?

A friend or coworker can exacerbate infertility pain out of sheer ignorance. A careless comment or mass email can magnify suffering in ways large and small. Some years back, I participated on an infertility chat board. The clueless topic came up. It led to a discussion about how Silent Sorority could be used as a means to educate.

EPG writes: I have a fantasy that a rather shallow coworker of mine reads the book Silent Sorority. As she starts reading, I will pop into her head unexpectedly. She’ll get about two chapters in and realize the author’s experiences sound like mine. But she won’t quite remember what it was I had said those times about not being able to have kids. She hadn’t listened closely enough because she couldn’t relate or didn’t want to get depressed or never really thought about it too deeply. But now?

Silent Sorority Makes Her Really Look at Me

She begins to cry tears of shame and genuine concern for me. She realizes how insensitive she has been to me. She gets that she has not been a good friend. She gets that maybe I don’t sit with her at lunch anymore because she was one of those ignorant moms who constantly hurt me without even knowing it. That’s because she didn’t care about looking at anyone else’s life unless that life looked like hers.

Yes, in my fantasy, she becomes a good friend and advocate. Someone who politely but assertively defends infertile women and men (but keeps my name out of it).

Real World Cluelessness

In reality, she’s clueless and will probably never care to understand my deepest pain. Regardless, I am so grateful to Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos for writing her book, Silent Sorority. Unlike my coworkers whom I do not “fit in” with, Pamela DOES understand me. I would sit with her at lunch any day.

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Pamela: thank you for writing your book.

Greyt responds: I read the book, too, and I seriously have thought about giving it to a few of my fertile friends to read it. Especially my really good friend who complained to me that I didn’t show her kid enough love when she brought him over. I was so mad. I went upstairs, pulled out the book and set it aside for the next time I see her. Every fertile friend should be required to read it. It explains our feelings so well!

MM12 responds: Pamela – your book helped me. I, too, wish my insensitive friends could read it and finally get it. I doubt they ever will. Honestly, I think trying to educate our friends and family sometimes leads to nothing. Thanks for sharing your experience with us. I cried many times after reading your struggles. This journey sucks and the world needs to learn what it means to us to feel sad, unfulfilled and how badly we yearn for that miracle of life. Thank you.

Coming to Terms

Jeko responds: I wish my mom and sisters would read Silent Sorority. I thought about giving it to them, but I don’t know if they would read it. Anyway, Pamela, your book has helped me (is helping me, actually) so much. After reading it, I started to feel like I will probably be okay if I never become a mother. I’m starting to come to terms with it more and more. I will probably re-read it sometime soon.

Diana responds: Can you get this book at any bookstore? I would love to give to all our families for Christmas.

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EPG responds: I ordered the e-version on Amazon.com, but you can order a real version there, too.

More Reading

In response to the Ladies in Waiting post last week, Mali had these thoughts: How Infertility Affects Our World View.

Misinformation has long been the cause of many misunderstandings.

Happily, there are many examples of how books can expand awareness and empathy. One of my favorite guest posts came from a woman who describes how her sister-in-law bought her closest friends Silent Sorority. She writes, “what was unbearable is now bearable in many ways.”

Welcome your thoughts on how to clue people in.

Pamela Tsigdinos

Writer, blogger and, oh, yeah, infertility survivor. My memoir, Silent Sorority, tells the whole story. There's a movie in there somewhere. Given the quirkiness needed to relate it all I'm thinking Jennifer Lawrence would be a good fit.

  1. Mali

    If anyone figures it out, I’m keen to know! It does seem so hard to educate people. All I can do is deal with people one at a time, and point out when they say something that isn’t helpful. A friend told me – when I was in my 50s already – that I could “still adopt.” I informed her that it would be pretty much impossible. (Even if I wanted to in my 50s, when I hadn’t in my 40s!) So she learned something new, and hopefully doesn’t say it to anyone else. That, and speaking out when I’ve had the chance, is the only way I’ve found to try to get through to people.

    You’re in my head at the moment, Pamela, because I was already thinking about a post on the things people say and how we can help them, and then you wrote this. I’ll link if I actually write it!

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