There are no cultural barriers, borders or misunderstanding among women who have confronted infertility. We know and understand each other in a way that defies words.
NYCPhoenix and I first connected on my Coming2Terms blog. When The New York Times piece,”Living Without Children When It Isn’t by Choice” came out, I remember her comment among the many others Seems we both knew from hard experience how essential a thick skin is to make our way in a society that doesn’t always know what to make of us. I also recall we independently came to the conclusion that coming to terms with infertility was not unlike a Phoenix rising from the ashes, an image we both evoked in our blog mastheads. I applaud her for her candor and for her spirit, which gives her the strength to rise anew. Below is Sophia’s guest post, which she originally published on her blog, and agreed to share The challenges that emerges when others silence, blame, shame, or invalidate our infertility journey and truth.
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We walk in the world and it sees what we present. But there are aspects of us that aren’t readily seen: the invisible parts of who we are. I believe we have a limit of what we can be invisible about until shame and stigma starts to seep in and we begin to feel like we have a secret. I walk into a room and you see: a short, brown woman. You guess she is Latina (and you’d be right), that she might speak Spanish (yes I do). You put her clothes and her hands in the white collar/professional realm. You see a gold band on my left ring finger and label me married.
None of you, when seeing me alone, will see that the person who gave me my ring as a promise of love and commitment is a masculine woman. You won’t see the scars left by child sexual abuse, intimate partner violence, and rape. You won’t be able to picture this thirty-something woman as twenty something alcoholic and addict, suicidal, stumbling on the street with a pint of cheap vodka in a paper bag. And you will never know by looking at me that I am infertile.
When my spouse and I walked into the world of assisted reproduction thinking all I needed was to be in the presence of sperm. That what all the doctors thought, too. And the articles. And the websites. And the bulletin boards. And the books. When infertility struck and I searched to find my voice it was as if I screamed into the wind. Infertility support was so heteronormative. And the lesbian/queer support did not always have a response for a fertility issue that was more than a lack of sperm.
So after 3 IUIs, 14 inseminations at home, and three spectacularly bad IVFs it became obvious that my ovaries could not produce quality eggs. Our souls were burnt but slowly with the help of our Creator (and therapy and meds) we are rising from the ashes of the last five years. We began as twonycmoms. I am now Nycphoenix.
Many people thought that because I was queer my babylust was somehow diminished. Many figured that as a queer I wasn’t or shouldn’t be so adamant about experiencing pregnancy. That I should just switch to adoption or I could walk away easier because once you are queer there isn’t the scrutiny about why you don’t have children. I’m queer I probably never wanted them. I guess I should be grateful I escape this cross many straight infertiles must bear.
As I move in this world with invisible sexiness, invisible queerness, invisible survivorhood, invisible addiction/recovery, I can’t add invisible infertility to the pile. I’m past my quota. My spirit is feeling the shame and sickness of secrets. So today and every time I can I will reveal. I will raise my voice in phoenixsong and the wind that drowned me out instead lifts my wings as I rise from the ashes.
4 thoughts on “Rising From The Ashes”
Thank you for this. As another queer infertile woman who has not chosen adoption (for lots of reasons), I’ve felt invisible in both the straight and the queer communities. It’s nice to hear a story like mine.
That’s a heartbreaking story. I’m so sorry that after so much pain and adversity, you then had to deal with infertility, too. It’s very sad, but also enlightening, to think about how society ‘reads’ us — and gets it wrong. It’s too bad that people don’t listen and empathize rather than just look and assume.
Thank you so much
Beautifully written and very well stated.