Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Seeing Red(book)

It's been awhile since I last talked at length about infertility or a fertility-related topic. The tone of my blog has changed dramatically since I got pregnant, and while not all of the changes have been intentional, I have periodically wondered if it's appropriate for me to continue blogging about infertility given my audience (almost exclusively family and friends) and my pregnancy. I confess to self-censoring to a degree because I didn't know myself what I wanted to be--a mommy-to-be blogger or a former infertile blogger. I can't say that I've completely answered that question, but I hope to start to address it in the next weeks/months.

That said, there have been certain...controversies lately in a rather prominent part of the IF blogging world that have really struck a chord with me. In brief, Redbook hired Julia, one of my favorite infertility bloggers to write about her experiences as part of a new "Trying to Get Pregnant: The Infertility Diaries" blog they launched on their website. Julia, already the mother of one son, got pregnant with twins shortly after starting the new blog, but due to many past miscarriages she is far being from "out of the woods". Also hired was a Redbook staffer named Lili who was absent from the blog for the first few months of its existence. Redbook offered no explanation for Lili's absence other than to say that she would be back "in a few weeks."

Then, last week Lili wrote her first post which, among other things, gave the reason why she had yet to contribute to the blog. After five years of fertility treatments, she was just returning from maternity leave after having twins. Immediately, comments flooded in from readers who took offense not only to the overall tone of her post (which, in my opinion, reflected her status as an inexperienced blogger who had not given enough thought to her intended audience not a genuine insensitivity to the feelings of infertile readers) but to the fact that both of Redbook's infertility bloggers were parents. A handful of nasty personal comments were made about Lili that were completely uncalled for, but most of the comments urged Redbook to re-think their panel of bloggers and, at a minimum, add a new blogger who is currently undergoing treatments for primary infertility.

Neither Redbook nor Lili responded for several days, leaving the impression that they either had no idea how to handle a reader revolt or that they simply didn't care about the pain they had caused to many of their readers. Either way, it's not exactly the kind of impression they probably wanted to leave. Finally, a Redbook editor addressed the comments in a post today that essentially dismissed what readers were saying and declared the subject closed permanently.

For what it's worth, I do not believe that blame for this situation should be laid solely at Lili's feet. She has simply been the scapegoat for Redbook's egregious lack of foresight and empathy. In fact, I feel quite a bit of sympathy for her since I'm also no longer considered a member of the IF club by many of the women I grew to know and care about during the roughly two years it took us to get pregnant. Those of us who have "turned the corner" as it were still deal with many of the emotional ramifications of infertility even though we have gotten pregnant, and it's not easy to suddenly feel excluded from IF's tight-knit support network when that happens.

The thing is, a positive pregnancy test (or even an almost full-term pregnancy) doesn't heal the wounds infertility causes. It doesn't erase the days and nights I spent hurting, doesn't repair the friendships I lost during those years, and it doesn't negate the experiences I had in getting to this point. The truth is, I still feel uncomfortable talking about my pregnancy with those who don't know our story. I don't like having to smile and nod when hearing stories about other women's "oops" pregnancies. It makes me angry to see Nicole Richie (who is, in my opinion, the last woman on earth who should probably be a parent) on the cover of US Weekly declaring "I'm Pregnant!". I am thankful for this pregnancy every day, and I know that my experiences in getting here will make me a more thoughtful and grateful parent than I probably would have been if we had been able to conceive easily. I'm still hurting, though. That pain might go away someday, but I won't be surprised if it doesn't. It's part of who I am now. I alluded to this in my post about my baby shower last month, but didn't write extensively on the topic since I was still trying to figure out my reaction for myself.

I suppose that in the end, nothing about infertility is fair or easy. What angers me most about the Redbook situation is that instead of directing anger at the editors who did not bother to consider the feelings of their readers or their bloggers, we have once again directed it at one of our own who is doubtless still dealing with the emotional toll infertility takes.


The Town Criers said...

Great post, C. I actually had missed the whole brouhaha with Redbook, but what you write here to so dead-on. IF is not "cured" with a child. The emotions still linger on afterwards. And while I'm really glad that you're out of the trenches right now, you're still part of the overall sisterhood, sweetie.

LJ said...

I have been reading Julia's blog for a few months, and definitely consider both of you permanently part of the sisterhood. I just tuned into Redbook yesterday, ironically. All of the scares in pregnancy are magnified 100x when you've dealt with infertility and miscarriage.

I think that the folks in power at Redbook don't fully grasp the intricacies of dealing with IF, and so unless they themselves had been there, could not anticipate the uproar of what emotions these bloggers could evoke, simply by progressing in their treatments.

I am disappointed that our sisterhood chose to take it out on the women who have already had to endure so much. There is so much pain around this topic, I want to cry out "can't we all just get along".

But basically, I just wanted to say, I continue to read the blogs of the women who have gotten to pregnancy, and even given birth.
1) You give me hope. There's a reason for me to continue. and 2) Those of us who haven't gotten pregnant or held our own child (1st or 2nd, for the secondary infertility) have one another to support us and understand. I feel like those going through a pregnancy need the sisterhood even more. You're in this limbo land, where you don't feel comfortable letting go of the worry and fear, yet have much reason for joy.

So blog on sister, I'll keep reading.ic

Natalie said...

I'm still reading. I like to stay connected with those who I've been reading.... and I certainly don't think those of you who "graduate" should get booted to the curb or stop writing about what's going on in your life. Yes, some days it's hard to read about ANYONE's pregnancy... however, those days I just stay away from pregnancy blogs and sites. I don't blame the pregnant woman! Most of the time when I see a formerly-IF pregnant I think, "Well thank god it works for someone.... what a relief... I'm glad she finally got there." (Unlike my reaction to "oops" or first-time pregnancies where I'm like "WTF that actually happens to people? Bitches.") Anywho.

I hadn't heard about the Redbook uproar. From what you wrote it does sound like people majorly overreacted to the bloggers themselves. But I do think Redbook made some serious errors there. I mean, how much brains does it take to hire someone who'se actually dealing with the issue, as opposed to someone who's been through it? Or at least one of each! Duh. Not bad bloggers. Bad business decision.

Bea said...

I missed all that, too. But I read Julia's take on it, and she seemed to think it was more clumsiness than anything as well. Perhaps Redbook didn't think things through enough? It seems their readers do have a concern, and who are they writing for?



Bea said...

But yes, agree about correctly directing anger.


Inconceivable said...

i stumbled acrossed your blog - but i have to say that i wrote a post about this today - i was directing my anger wrong for a while and a few months ago- it just hit me - Infertility is infertility no matter what. It has helped me greatly .. i say "it is what it is" press on - Farah