Why this blog?

Not too long ago, I read “Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found” by Pamela Mahoney Tisigdinos.  It’s wonderfully well written.  It’s always a relief to find someone who has managed to put words to one’s own similar experience.  Pamela does a great job giving voice to what truly is a “silent” suffering, with individuals living in an “infertility closet”.  As in her experience, and as for many others, I’ve reached a point in my journey where I no longer want to be silent and desperately need to give voice to this reality that needs more understanding, awareness, help, and support.

Discovering my voice means putting myself out there and sharing a very little understood existence of infertility—an isolated, silent, and tragically growing minority.  About two years ago, I started writing for myself, and to my surprise, it proved to be incredibly powerful and therapeutic.  Any nagging thought or running monologue in my head could be put down on paper, and… poof… it was as though my mind had filed it away and was done with it.

But with regards to infertility, it’s not just about me and my thoughts.  It’s about the isolation, the absence of empathy, the invisibility, the misinformation, the lack of support.  Also, not all women that live with infertility process their experience in the same way.  Many who become pregnant after a short or long journey of infertility will  move on to living the life of Fertiles. Some who have one or more child, may experience “secondary infertility” when attempting to have another child. Infertiles may eventually become parents through medical options or adoption, and either want to forget about the infertility or simply move on with their new lives, and understandably so. And then there are those that do not pursue all options, either through choice or lack of resources or due to circumstances, and move on to figuring out how reorganize their plans of life ahead without children.

Those of us still in our struggle, or journey, as well as those who see it in their rear view mirrors, have so much to give and share with other women who are going or may go down a similar path.  And having found little to no support in my life circumstances, I hope some support can be offered here.

Of course, I am concerned about undertaking the sharing of my story via this blog for a few reasons.  First, I am not a writer.  I can write excellent business correspondences, reports, etc.  But ask me to write something creative or express my feelings, I go blank.  Second, I do not have a thick skin.  I feel unprepared to hear harsh words and be dismissed for my personal story because infertility is often met with disdain, blame, and what amounts to the opposite of compassion and empathy.

Third, being of a Pakistani and Muslim background and community has afforded me little room for openness and support in my journey to become a mother.  I have experiences and opinions that will inevitably illicit defensiveness when in fact we as a community (the fertile community, the infertile community, the Pakistani community) desperately need thoughtful self reflection and voices that challenge taboo topics, particularly relating to women.  In the US, and around the world, Pakistani and Muslim have become well-known but have little understood, complex identities, for Pakistanis and Muslims as well as for non-Pakistanis and non-Muslims.  While most definitely there are many layers to this identity (in fact there is no one identity), there is, however, a desperate need to bring attention to prevailent and problematic attitudes and beliefs toward infertility, reproductive abilities, and women’s bodies–not to mention a sheer lack of understanding.

With the safety of anonymity that a blog can afford, and even with the many reasons to second guess my decision to write one, I have decided nonetheless to share my story and slowly open the door to the Woman-American-South Asian-Muslim “infertility closet”.

Regardless of intentions with which this blog begins, I know, I hope, it will evolve in its own way, and I look forward to it.  I know that many blogs start and stop short, ending prematurely.  So I’ll be happy if I can hold on to this courage and post on a regular basis… with a starting commitment to following through to the end of my story, as it unfolds to a conclusion—either we’ll have children or we won’t through our chosen paths.

The scope is limited to my personal story of infertility, my journey to becoming a mother, my views, opinions, and beliefs, and my learned lessons.  Naturally, by extension, attitudes toward and treatment of people living with infertility will be a big part of this story, with the hope that it will force self-reflection, questioning of prevailing belief systems, and a change in attitudes and treatment by others.  I also hope the lessons learned can aid others in their journey.  While it may be beyond the scope or my ability or my time, it would be great (for me) to explore larger issues of reproductive rights and crisis facing women and men everywhere.

At the very least, I hope this blog can achieve the following:

  • Find my voice as an infertile woman, who is American of Muslim faith, from a first generation immigrant family, and a member of Pakistani community in the US
  • Advocate for greater understanding and options for all women and men who are journeying to be parents
  • Encourage education of reproductive issues for young women and men early on in life
  • Encourage compassion from people, especially those who have been fortunate enough to become parents without the hurdles Infertiles face
  • Challenge prevailing taboos and belief systems, especially in the cultural and religious contexts
  • Voicing support for choices Infertiles make in their decision to become parents, regardless of personal views, beliefs, cultural norms, and interpretations of any faith

Well aware how these are ambitious hopes and intentions, setting them up front feels right and reminds me how I continuously hope—a necessary survival tool for an Infertile–and how hope may have kept me sane. If I don’t manage to address everything I’ve listed above through writings in this blog, then at the very least, it shows my hope for what is possible in time and with effort for women and men living with infertility.

Hope is really only a small part in keeping me sane… unconditional love and patience from my partner and our ability to pull together as a team has made it possible for me to be “still standing” and get to this current place where we are now able to look beyond the “What Ifs” that dictate the life of most Infertiles.

With this as the first post, I begin…