Mean Girls. They are everywhere.
Even in the infertility community.
I guess I was naive to think this wasn't possible. I thought, shit, we all suffer with this disease, and we know how hard it is, don't you think we would be extra kind to one another and have each other's backs unconditionally?
Getting pregnant was not all rainbows and unicorns for me. I was excited, yes, but I felt like a major sellout. I felt like I was bailing on my infertile "secret club". A club I am quite fond of.
Very, very fond of.
Many of the women in this club I've never met, yet have such a strong bond with. We connected over social media years ago, and stayed in touch along the way. I've told a few of them that I love them, because, really, I do. We've been through so much together. They have lifted me up and showed me compassion in my darkest hours. We vent to each other about EVERYTHING and are never judged for our feelings. We share secrets with each other that we don't share with anyone else. I've had multiple women tell me that I'm the only person that knows about their infertility besides their spouse. I take this very seriously. They trust me, I trust them. They get me. I get them. I have infertile besties all over the world, thousands of miles away, it's pretty fucking magical.
It's the new age version of pen pals.
They are my virtual Golden Girls.
I've always been proud to be in this "secret club" of incredibly brave women. Women who take an emotional and physical beating day after day, yet show up to work with a smile on their face. Women who have the worst days, yet find the energy to lift up someone else.
Once I found out I was pregnant, I began to worry about my relationships with these women. Will they hate me now? How will I continue to tell my story without hurting them? Will they even care what I have to say now that I'm pregnant? I know what it feels like to be scrolling through Instagram and BAM there it is - a pregnancy announcement!
Yep, been there. Done that.
I know there were plenty of women who unfollowed me once I announced that I was pregnant. I don't take offense to that, AT ALL. If you need to unfollow me to protect your feelings, please DO IT. YOU are most important, and this battle is hard. You have to protect yourself the best way you know how. If you look at my pregnant belly and cry, I understand. If you need your space from me, PLEASE take it. I will validate all of this. Always. You, do YOU boo.
But I promise you this, WHEN your magic happens and you get your rainbow after the storm, and/if you want to come back, I will still be here. I'm never leaving. I know it's not personal, I know you were just trying to survive.
I gothcu gurl.
I try my absolute damndest to be sensitive to all of this with all of my posts. I try my best to be thoughtful and to consider all perspectives and feelings. I constantly overthink it to the point of insanity. I'm not perfect, but I am compassionate. Everything I write is with purpose and from the heart. I don't have all the answers, I've never claimed to. I'm not a doctor. I'm not an expert.
I'm just an infertile girl trying to survive like everyone else.
I write about my personal experiences, the things that go through my head, the problems I'm faced with, the lessons I learn. I share all of this at the expense of publicly humiliating myself and my husband. I do it because I want you to know you aren't alone. I share my story to empower you and to validate you through my experiences.
But unfortunately, this doesn't always happen.
My last blog post about Genetic Testing struck a nerve with someone, someone I've never met or exchanged words with. She left some pretty harsh words in a comment on my Instagram post for all to see.
My first reaction was to reach out to a couple of my infertile besties and ask their thoughts. Was my post offensive? What do you think I did wrong? How could I have done this better? Was I misleading? I certainly didn't intend to be.
My intention with the post was to get women talking and sharing about their thoughts on Genetic Testing. I never said in my Instagram post that I did or didn't do genetic testing, I just shared some of my initial thoughts on the process and said "read more on the blog". This is typically how I share posts on social media, from my experience this is how most bloggers share posts. I can't exactly share an entire blog post on Instagram, there aren't enough characters, and hell, what would be the point of a blog?
However, she felt mislead.
I was hurt by her words, and took the blame for her hurt. I felt terrible that I made her feel this way. I know that for her to lash out at me the way she did, she must have been in a pretty bad place.
Unfortunately she didn't just "unfollow" or send me a private message about her feelings, she decided to publicly shame me. She wrote things like that I was "totally disgusting", "MISLEADING" (yes in all caps), and "capitalizing on my infertile followers".
That hurt. It hurt bad.
I sat in my car for a few minutes feeling like a piece of shit of a human. I so badly wanted to respond to her and try to understand what I did wrong. How could I fix this? What is the best way to handle this? Every response I could think of, had a potential of upsetting her further and making things worse.
So, I chose not to respond and blocked her.
I mean, I don't even know this girl. However, she is in the "club" that I've trusted my heart and soul with for years and years. Why on earth would she be so mean to me? All I've ever done is try to support women in this community.
I started getting messages from multiple women saying that they saw her post and were sorry she did this. They were checking in on me to make sure I was okay and reassuring me that they believed in me and what I was doing to help the infertility community. They didn't feel misled or disgusted.
I found out later that many of them were even commenting back in my defense, which I couldn't see because I had blocked everything. One girl wrote this...
THIS is the club I'm so proud of.
You CAN sit with us!
I messaged a few ladies to thank them for their overwhelming love and support. Once again, they saved me. They lifted me back up and reminded me why I share my story.
The #MeToo stories started flooding in.
One women told me she was called things like an "old hag" a "bitch" and even a "c*nt" (sorry, I couldn't bring myself to type that word out completely). This amazing woman struggled with multiple rounds of IVF, sperm donation, egg donation, AND surrogacy and was somehow still full of light and positivity. Yet gets beaten down by a fellow warrior?
Another women who was struggling with secondary infertility shared that she had children from a prior marriage with an online infertility support group. She couldn't believe the response. The hate started pouring in from all kinds of women and was called every name in the book. Someone even reported her to the group moderator and had her removed from the group. She was respectful about sharing and was just trying to be honest about her children. She didn't violate any rules, she was simply trying to get support, like the rest of us. She left feeling like she didn't know where she belonged in the infertility world, if at all. So much for a "support group". Meh.
One women told me that she was publicly berated by other infertile women when she shared her feelings about not wanting to adopt. It was important to her to try to carry and birth a child and was just sharing her personal feelings in a non-threatening way. Not to mention, she's been one of my biggest supporters during this process, she's literally the kindest person and always finds positivity in any and everything. Why would anyone shame her for her own personal journey?
I mean shit, infertility brings enough shame to our lives on it's own, why must we add on to that? Especially among our kind? We know the shame better than anyone! We live the shame day after day! Many of us are walking around wearing a hypothetical infertility "Cone of Shame" DAY after DAY.
AND no one likes the cone of shame! Ask your damn dog!
Another women posted that she really needed support and was having a hard time when people ask the question "how are you?" because she truly wasn't okay. Someone commented back and said " you should just be grateful for what you have, your life could be a lot worse". All this woman wanted was support and validation, yet left feeling shameful.
Another women was berated on her Instagram page for making IVF seem "easy" because she chose to document her journey, which was and is beautiful.
PLEASE STOP THE SHAMING!
I have several more stories like these in my inbox. I could go on and on.
I remember reading about Chrissy Teigen being shamed for doing IVF on twitter. Luckily, she shut that bitch down like a boss.
Slay Chrissy, slay.
This got me thinking. How often is this happening? Is it just a coincidence that the people that have reached out to me have experienced these mean girls? I took a poll on Instagram to see how many had experienced something like this, and the results showed about 25%. One out of four women are treated harshly by other infertile women.
This can't be right.
1 out of 8 couples struggle from infertility and then 1 out of 4 of them are bullied by other infertile women? No, just NO!
We are adults, ladies. Yes, I know that we are jacked up on hormones, and emotional AS FUCK some days, but we still need to be accountable for our actions, right? Didn't we deal with this shit enough in high school? I know I sure did.
Is this behavior cyberbullying? According to dictionary.com:
Cyber bullying is to bully online by sending or posting mean, hurtful, or intimidating messages, usually anonymously.
I'll let you be the judge.
I just can't wrap my head around this. I don't know how I've made it this long without hearing or seeing any of this. I really thought we were all "in this together". Why were these women being so mean to other women? Why are we turning on each other?
We SHOULD NOT shame other women. EVER.
No, we don't have to agree on everything. And, we definitely don't have to take the same paths on this journey. We're all just trying to cope and survive. It's hard enough fighting the daily infertile life happenings, often feeling like the world is against us. We should be supporting each other and empowering each other, not breaking each other down.
THAT's so fetch, RIGHT?
I want to move on from this, learn from it, and share with others in hopes to make a difference. We should all be thinking about the best way to respond to this type of behavior. You never know when it will happen to you. Kids are taught to walk away, stay calm and not fight back. I'm taking this advice and listening to my inner Michelle Obama.
When they go low, we go high!
And despite this girl being so nasty to me, I didn't want others to be able to have access to her after I wrote this post and retaliate. I've deleted my post completely. I also didn't want that negativity out there swirling around, I just didn't want to look at it anymore, honestly. Believe it or not, I am human and have feelings too. My feelings were hurt pretty bad by her.
Yet, I'm protecting this girl.
We want to be mothers right? We want to teach our children to be kind to others who are struggling, right? We want to set good examples for the young girls and boys that look up to us, right? We want to raise strong, empowered children to become their best selves, right?
Well, let's fucking act like it!
Because, if we don't support each other in this journey, then who the hell will?