The purpose of this blog is two-fold. First and foremost, it was created to offer a safe place for those embarking on a new life after confronting infertility. It’s a gathering place to express ideas and experiences; it also includes some guests posts and essays. In sharing what we’ve learned we not only can offer camaraderie and celebrate new beginnings we can ensure that the next generation is well informed and benefits from lessons learned.
You’ll also find reporting and studies that demonstrate the need for greater accountability in the growing for-profit ‘fertility’ industry.
… Finally Heard, the ebook
This compilation of lessons learned, insights and voices incorporates the experiences of other women who also had to make sense of not only the fertility industrial complex but the emotional trauma that ensued. Feel free to share your response to the ideas contained within in the comments section of this page.
I first became known in the blogosphere as Pamela Jeanne.
That was my pseudonym 15 years ago when I started Coming2Terms, a blog that allowed me to process the pain and losses associated with unexplained infertility followed by failed fertility treatments.
More on that topic here: Would You Tell Someone You Were infertile? and on this podcast link: A pull no punches podcast exploring life after infertility
Not a podcast listener? You can find the first-of-its kind discussion transcript here.
After more than a decade of trying to conceive (my first reproductive diagnostic test took place at 29), my husband and I decided we were done being human lab experiments. That’s when I began to realize that overcoming infertility is about much more than making a baby. It’s about coming to terms, when nature and science find their limits, with a life different than one so often taken for granted. There are no clear instructions on what it takes to embark on a life path that doesn’t involve parenting following fertility treatment losses. At the same time I was blogging I began writing Silent Sorority. My anonymity went by the wayside when I was featured in The New York Times. Suddenly more than my immediate family knew about my private life. It led to this current blog: what comes after the grieving, anger and sadness.
With the support of a truly wonderful man, my husband Alex, I completed the award-winning book, Silent Sorority, the first memoir written about infertility not authored by a mother. Early in 2015 I completed Finally Heard: A Silent Sorority Finds Its Voice.
In relating my experience of the once hopeful days of trying to conceive to adjusting to a new and unexpected life path I learned the importance of fellowship in making sense of a difficult transition. It isn’t easy to find the courage to express the challenges associated with the finality of infertility. The women (and men) I’ve met and come to know through this blog and my Coming2Terms blog have made a significant impact on my life. As we’ve discussed online and in real life conversations there is a great need to relate what happens when nature and science don’t cooperate in family building — if only to help those who inevitably feel isolated and misunderstood in the wake of infertility. We in the once Silent Sorority also have a few things to say about our evolving place in society.
Today, with some distance from my trying to conceive and treatment days, I am committed to elevating awareness about reproductive health and calling for greater independent oversight of the ‘fertility’ industrial complex. I became a contributor to The New York Times. I co-authored this op-ed: Selling the Fantasy of Fertility, and following work with an international team of researchers and academics I wrote The Big IVF Add-on Racket. Those of us in ‘Generation IVF’ have much to share with the next generation. More on me here.
ReproTech Truths, a grassroots initiative started in 2017, surfaced #UnmaskingIVF stories that had been overlooked or downplayed by clinics more interested in profits than patient well being. Not long after the first IVF in 1978 entrepreneurial doctors and the pharmaceutical industry aligned to create a lucrative multi-billion dollar industry based on selling hope to a vulnerable population eager to create families. From the earliest days well-funded marketing strategies, poorly researched news stories and general ignorance about fertility helped position IVF as one of mankind’s greatest medical breakthroughs; which it is – but only to a degree. The lack of an organized constituency and no rigorous oversight also means longitudinal health studies and consumer protections don’t exist. As we approached the 40th anniversary we began to unmask IVF (and the more recent elective egg freezing, which requires ICSI IVF) to help future generations understand the associated risks and costs.
44 thoughts on “About”
I am an infertility survivor. All my young life I took care to not have children until I could do it the right way, with a loving and supportive partner, my husband, Tommy. I got married in my 30s and thought I had plenty of time and even though I’d always had rough painful periods,they were regular. We started trying to conceive when I was 35. After 5 years, several operations, two miscarriages and two rounds of IVF we quit. My periods were so painful and I’d taken so many drugs for fertility, my Dr. and I decided a hysterectomy was best. I grieved for many years, didn’t attend baby showers, cried at the sight of babies and grieved some more.
Ten years later with the support of my wonderful husband I felt like I was finally healing. I had made a life for myself. I had two step kids, I focused on making that good and it worked, we all get along great even the ex. and I. But the pain came back and with a vengeance because at 51 I became a GRANDMOTHER! (step grandmother to be politically correct) now I am in a place I don’t know how to be…. I don’t know anyone who has this issue. I am grieving again and I hate grieving again, holding in all the hurt and anger when inappropriate things are said and they are said! Trying to be happy (and i truly am) about the baby who looks a little like everyone but me. Holding her and reliving the aches of the past. My body is even rebelling, my back going into spasms. I even googled my situation to see if I could find someone who could relate, even google didn’t have an answer for me and no suggestions for someone who could relate. Maybe someone has a story they can share that’s relatable? I know time heals all, it just sucks the second time around, I thought I was done with that heartache!
Since your post is from three years ago, I don’t know if you follow anymore but your situation is exactly what I’m facing: being a step-grandmother. I’m happy for my step-daughter and my husband but it’s brought back so much sadness for me.
I found your blog through a reference. I applaud your dedication to the life lesson learned and your willingness to share it with others. A lot of women would be happy to just forget and move on.
I’m a filmmaker working on a documentary film about infertility based on my own experience. I found your interview to be of great interest, because you touch on some profound themes.
I’d like to connect with you. Please see my recent post http://wp.me/p36jbT-U. My film is a work-in-progress, and I think we are working towards the same goal, so I would love for you to become a contributor, or a supporting voice http://www.facebook.com/vodarfilms
I would be happy to feature your book in my post as well.
Thanks so much for reaching out. I’ll follow up with you via email.
Thank you – two small words but meant so very sincerely. I bought your book on amazon and it arrived. I am two-thirds of my way through it and felt compelled to come find your and say thank you. I felt quite alone in the post-treatment world and your words and story whilst different to mine resonates so strongly that I could not wait till the end of the book to come find you. Thank you so very much for sharing your story with the world. I will probably post again once I have finished the book :)
You are most welcome, Dotty.
I just got your book and read most of it in a day. Thank you so much for writing this and for your frank honesty. I can relate to so much of your story, I live in the Detroit area, was an English major, went through a divorce and was raised with “Baptist” guilt (which is very similar to Catholic guilt!).
After a decade long pursuit of being a mom, my journey has come to an end this January with a second miscarriage. I am absolutely heartbroken, but as you said, there is no funeral, no coffin to cry over, just me trying to survive and hold myself together.
My husband and I are trying to determine what’s next for us and the path is very unclear. I feel this strong desire to leave a mark on this world, but I’m not sure how to do it. Do I pursue my creative endeavors, a career, become an activist, or pour myself into being an Aunt. I guess time will make it more clear. I’m so glad you have found a good path through this, it gives me hope.
Thank you for reaching out. My condolences for your losses. This is a particularly difficult time so be gentle with yourself and take the time to grieve. Your path will become more clear as you heal. All the best to you.
I came across your book during the past 2 years of struggling to deal with infertility. Reading your book and you sharing your experiences has helped me to realize that there truly is a light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you for sharing your story as it has truly been inspiration. I wish that I had found your book in my earlier stage of infertility struggles but none the less it has helped to move forward in the world.
Very much appreciate, Donna, you taking the time to share your response. We all grow in strength when we know we’re not alone.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I just finished your book and it is what I needed at this time in my life. For years, I watched my older sister suffer due to her husband’s infertility. While I feel that I wasn’t insensitive to her during the worst of it, I now know I said things to him that had to be hurtful.
Now I am the infertile one and my husband wants to end the years of medical intervention. He is older than me and already has a child, so it is easier for him to say enough is enough. Some part of me wants to try to move on too, but the pain is very intense and I feel lost.
Thank you for the gift of this book. You have helped me and countless others feel less alone. And that is a wonderful thing.
Wishing you peace and strength as you heal from your pain and come to terms with your grief.
Yours in friendship and understanding,
Finally I found a site that caters to my infertility emotions that is still current.
Unfortunately, 12 June to me is the anniversary of my hysterectomy. One year and counting.
I have looked around the interwebs so often to find like minded people. Ones who so desperately want children but due to genetics will never succeed.
However, my struggle is not just coming to terms with never being a mum, it is also dogged by Major Depression which I’ve suffered for over 30 years, despite only being 39.
I know my circumstances are not unusual, but trying to explain to someone that adoption, surrogacy & IVF are no option to a childless couple is heartbreaking and I usually have to explain this at least once a week.
Why are they no longer an option. IVF is obviously out because I no longer have a uterus. Adoption is out because of my mental health and as for surrogacy well the same reason, because here in Australia the birth mother is considered to be the biological mother as well and an adoption process must be done to have legal guardianship over the child, again out of the question due to my mental health.
My main issue is that I just cannot get passed the fact that I will never have children. My goal in life was to be a mum. My goal in life now is to not cry and to try and find a goal in life that doesn’t revolve around a family.
Like I said earlier, it’s finally nice to find a site that is still active and full of people in the same boat on the turbulent seas.
You are among friends here. We understand your experience and your struggle to come to terms with your losses. Be kind to yourself. The healing will come. Warm regards, Pamela
Pam, I just read your book and its a book that I myself could have written.. I am currently coming to grips with ending trying for a child, whether it’s through egg donation( which we have tried and failed), adoption ( also failed) and surrogacy. It’s very hard to meet couples that are going through this or have gone through this and it’s so nice there is support out there and I’m not alone! Thank you for bringing this subject out to the public!!
Appreciate you reaching out. This hardy community isn’t always easy to locate in real life, but hopefully we’ll get to a place where support is more readily accessible, but online is a start!
Pamela I cannot be more thankful you wrote this blog and your book. I felt like I found a pack while reading your book. I was 28 when I was diagnosed with mild PCOS. After six rounds of Clomid I was told we were hopeless due to low sperm count. Like you said in your book we are an engine that works within the boundary of normal. My husband and I both have great careers, make good money, and have a large family home. I’m a teacher so this has been especially rough. In my line of work I am seen as inferior due to my childlessness. I’ve been praying since January for strength, your book gave it to me. I needed to not feel alone. I needed a pack. Although I bet you hear it all the time, your book helped me. It took a tremendous amount of strength to take this leap, but I’m thankful daily for your courage.
You should make t-shirts with Silent Sorority, for those of us who need to have the conversation with others who do not understand us because we have never fully explained the situation. Like you said, we shouldn’t get mad at the insensitive comments, invites, or advice unless the other person knows our situation.
Thank you for bringing me peace.
So very kind of you to write, and to share your story. It warms my heart to know you’ve found peace and comfort. There are many more in our sorority and we lift each other up in understanding and knowing that we’re not alone in our experience. Yours in friendship, Pamela
Nice to see that I’m not alone. I have been grieving this loss for about 11 years. Got married at 37 and thought it might be hard to get pregnant but had no idea how close I was to menopause. By 41-42 I stopped having periods and the door closed for good. I’m 50 now and it still hurts so much. I haven’t worked in 4 years, suffer from depression, sometimes major bouts. Feel like I’m stuck and as a Christian grapple with faith issues. My husband in my mind kind of handled this in his own way. I felt mostly alone because he didn’t seem to have the same level of desire to start a family. I guess seeing how low I got in my depression was a scary thing for him. But now I feel anger and resentment especially when the dark moods set in. Seems like it’s never going to get better.
You are always welcome here, Lisa. We understand your dark days. As bad as it feels on the worst of them, you will find light, in time, as your work through all the competing emotions. Wishing you peace…
Glad I found this site. Hope to eventually meet some women in my situation. I feel like I can relate to many others here. I understand how Lisa W above felt. I looked forward to having a family of my own some day but alas, I was diagnosed with pof and stopped having periods at age 34. I was and am still single at age 40. It has been a very difficult struggle over the past few years.
Good to connect, Natalie. Encourage you to read the comments as well as the guest posts. Quite a few of us are also part of a great online community called Gateway Women, which originated in the UK but is now virtual as well as offering various meetups in person in different geographies. There’s a Google+ group that’s quite active where you can learn more. I connected with some women there who will also be joining me in NYC Sept. 27.
Meanwhile, wishing you all the best!
Thanks for your book, Pamela. I feel like we could be friends in real life.
Actually, me too I am stuck in the middle. Not willing to pursue extreme ART and not a mom, I am alone with my husband.
We are not parents but we are not like many others TTCing who feel like they can’t stop trying the newest treatment.
I feel like no one understands me completely, but I found a lot of my own words in your book.
Thanks, Penny. Glad we connected!
Today, I read this comment of yours on Lauren Bush’s essay on being a Donor conceived child:
“Thank you, Lauren, for this honest, articulate expression of your experience. Diagnosed with unexplained infertility more than a decade ago it took huge effort — and much sadness and grieving — before my husband and I could accept that conceiving/delivering a child was not in the cards for us. Of course, the fertility industry was eager to sell us donor services, which we declined for many of the reasons you outlined here. Infertility and the related losses was *our* issue to face — not something we wanted to pass on in a new and different way to a child. It led me to write a book that chronicles the process of coming to terms with an experience that changed our lives profoundly. Wishing you all the best…”
Pamela, I wish YOU the best. As an adopted person myself, I can’t tell you how impressed and moved I am by your ability to look past your own pain and seriously consider the possible negative impact of using donor services on any children you might conceive that way. I hope this doesn’t hurt you, I mean it in the best of ways, but it makes me sad that such a big-hearted, generous person as yourself ISN’T a mother. But not really. There are many, many ways of contributing in this world, and I’m sure you have helped an amazing amount of people sharing your hard won wisdom thru your writing and speaking engagements. You have made a difference.
The concept you write about, not wanting to transfer your pain to a child, is such an unique and admirable perspective. Such an ETHICAL perspective.
Thanks for this share. I have the same ethical issues in using donors and my husband and I ruled out that option after reading about it and collecting info.
I am glad to hear the voices of the donor conceived children!
I just finished reading your book, and I can’t tell you how good it felt to have you articulate publicly so many of the feelings I have had coming to terms with my own infertility. Thank you.
Here is something I would add: infertility in this day and age has two features that make it unlike other losses – such as divorce or the death of a loved one. First, it does not happen at any specific time. There is no event. You just keep trying and then, somewhat arbitrarily, realize it’s over. This makes it hard to get to the grieving stage, and hard for others to grieve with you. Second, because of all the medical and legal technology out there, you have to decide when to ‘pull the plug’ on the project. This makes you complicit in your own loss. No matter what happens, it was your “choice” (to stop treatment, not to adopt, whatever…) Others can look at you and just say, “well, she made her decision,” or, “I guess she didn’t want it that much.” But it’s not a choice, any more than refusing life-prolonging treatment under intolerable conditions is a choice.
Having realized this, I’m now aware that when the subject comes up, I have to actively teach others how to talk to me. I say, “No, I don’t have children. I wanted them but I could not have them. This is a source of tremendous sadness for me.” If they go on with, “Have you ever thought of x,y,z…?” I just say, “I am not asking you for advice, thanks. I do not have a problem I have to solve. I experienced a loss and I am grieving it.” — I hope this helps someone who reads your blog. I have found it helpful.
So appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for taking the time to share what you’ve learned. Great counsel. Your words will, no doubt, help many. all best, Pamela
I read your book in one day. I am relieved that my experiences are not unique and to hear that there is no overnight solution to living and dealing with infertility. I spent so long believing that there were two kinds of family’s the ones who chose to have children and the ones who outright didn’t. As a read each chapter I found myself saying, “I am not alone,” and I can’t tell you how much it means to me to know that.
Thank you for taking the time to share your response to the book. There are few things better than feeling validated and among those who understand what you have experienced. Warmest regards to you…
Thank you so much for your commitment to bringing awareness, hope and a sense of community for all of us trying to find our way on the other side of the infertility journey.
I find myself at times overwhelmed by the struggle of moving forward and finding hope in a child free life when all of my friends around me are adding to their families. I do feel I need additional support through counseling and have not been able to find someone who specializes in the journey after infertility. I live in Northern California and am wondering if you know of any resources that I can use to find someone. Please feel free to respond directly to this post or contact me directly via Email.
I am grateful for any recommendations you can make.
Sent you an email, Rachel…
Thank you so much for your book!
I’m suffering from secondary infertility and each month I inch closer to menopause and I feel a profound sense of sense of loss even though I am so thankful for children I’ve had. In this journey of trying to get pregnant again (with 5 failed pregnancies-one further along) and in reading your book, I’ve become so much more aware of how casually I viewed pregnancy before this.
I realize now how hard Mother’s Day is for infertile women, how we judge women based on things they can not control and how fertile women rarely are able to emotionally understand infertile women in a deep sense. In going through this and in reading your raw and touching account of your journey, my heart aches for all women who have gone through such a deep sense of pain.
It reminds me of Prov 30:15b-16 ” There are three things that are never satisfied, four that never say, ‘Enough!’: the grave, the barren womb, land, which is never satisfied with water, and fire, which never says, ‘Enough!’ The desire to parent can’t be quenched or filled with other things. It is the death of a longing, a dream and a natural desire.
I want to thank you so much for being real in your anger, grief and pain. For being a voice for those who go without one and for those of us who haven’t told many people our suffering because we are embarrassed or don’t think that someone would fully understand. Your description of being in a grocery store surrounded by baby bumps suddenly popping up everywhere is happening to me all the time, especially at the times where we’ve lost a pregnancy. It seems that everyone around us is pregnant too and while we share in their joy, we quietly grieve for the babies we’ve lost and the ones we may never have.
Your ability to make peace with your situation gives me hope. It is what i pray for everyday- that I can be at peace with whatever happens, including menopause.
Thanks Pamela. Your book has had a huge effect on me and has made me feel that my longings are normal and my frustration and disappointment is a response that (sadly) others share.
I hope you continue to blog and write,
I am humbled, Danielle, by your response. I am also grateful that in relating my story warts and all I’ve been able to touch your heart and help illuminate a much misunderstood human experience. I hope that the universal story contained in Silent Sorority continues to usher in new understanding. Thank you for taking the time to write. Your words give me new motivation. Wishing you peace and strength…
I was surfing the web on ” what can couples do without kids” and came across your website. Now in tears I was reading your website and felt that you are talking straight to me. We’ve been trying to conceive for awhile now and with 7 failed insemination and IVF and miscarriage. I have endometriosis and ovarian cysts, sill no children. We tried adoption but we really don’t have any money to pursue that way. Now with no kids , I feel so depressed and empty and even shutting out my husband and concentrating on working longer hours to fill the void. I come home feeling so down in spite. I am trying my best to find a way to accept that we would never have children but in the end I can’t, I just end up shutting myself out from the world including my husband.
I hope as I continue to read on your website and with time I will learn to accept things.
thank you for listening…….
Sending you much support and big hugs, bey. Be gentle with yourself. You are not alone…
Hi Pamela, I came across your article posted on Seleni Institute. I had to tell you that I was very anxious about my fertility future after two losses, and a failed IVF. I wasn’t sure how I could live a life without a child, and scoured the internet to find blogs and articles on women who are living a fulfilled life without children to find solace. I came across your article, and it changed my life. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I am much more comfortable accepting nature not giving me a child, rather than science. So, while I am still young, I have stopped chasing fertility treatments, and a baby, and am focusing on life with my wonderful husband. Thanks for taking the journey to publish your incredible story about your strength because you inspired me and for that, I am thankful.
Thank you so very much for taking the time to share your kind words. As I mark my 10 year anniversary of blogging your thoughts remind me of what drove me to sit down at the keyboard in the first place. I am deeply honored to have played a role in your life. Warm regards, much love and all the very best to you! xo, Pamela
I just finished your book. It’s the most comforting thing I’ve read in two years. I have three frozen embryos. My husband told me that he didn’t want to try anymore two weeks before our scheduled transfer date. I was devastated. He has a son from a previous marriage. IVF was utilized during that relationship as well, but they conceived their son spontaneously. As if this isn’t enough, I’m an OB/GYN. How do I continue to support and share in the happiness of new mothers EVERY DAY when it is a constant reminder of something I will NEVER have? I am heartbroken.
I so wish I could reach through the computer screen and envelop you in a comforting warm embrace. I can’t even begin to imagine the strength you summon each day. I’m in awe of your emotional stamina. Your comment brought to mind a discussion we had on the blog a few years back. You can read the discussion here: http://www.coming2terms.com/2009/11/01/the-ultimate-test/
This is not meant to diminish the uniqueness of your day to day challenge nor is it meant to be an easy fix by any stretch of the imagination but I do want you to know that you are not alone. Abiding with you…
I came across your website and I thought I should send you the link of our short film (Otto). It’s an animation film about a woman who’s involuntary childless. It’s the power of imagination that helps her deal with this sorrow.
It’s a thema that is not often portrayed in a short film, and maybe it will be appreciated by the people who visit your website.
This is the link to the film: