Monday, January 7, 2008

"The Blank Space in Our Family Album"

There was a great first-person article in the Sunday New York Times about infertility, called "The Blank Space in Our Family Album." I could relate to soooo much the author had to say -- everything from the collection of pregnancy books and the names chosen long in advance to the photos nobody else wants to, or gets to see. These lines in particular resonated with me:

Most of our friends and family don’t know we have all of these books, photos, names and parenting philosophies. I doubt it occurs to people with real babies that we have prepared exactly as they have, if not more.

I doubt that most of our friends & family know there is a box full of pregnancy & infertility books that still sits in my closet. They don't know about the photos that were taken, or the beautifully crocheted baby outfit that is among my most prized possessions, because my daughter was wearing it the first & only time I got to see and hold her. Many of them probably don't even know that we named her, or what her name is, or that, nearly 10 years later, we still visit her niche at the cemetery just about every weekend. They have no idea how long we tried or what we went through before deciding we had to stop. They have no idea how much effort it takes sometimes for us to attend their baby showers & the birthday parties for their own children.

They think they know us. But there is so much they don't know.

P.S. I do object to the author's use of the term "people with real babies." I think a better term would have been "living babies" or something similar. My baby was as real to me as anyone's who ever drew breath. I can remember the founder of our pregnancy loss group telling us about how she inquired about attending a grief group after the stillbirth of her daughter some 20 years ago. The response she got was, "Oh, we only deal with the deaths of real babies." That was the impetus for the birth of our group!


  1. That article resonated with me, too. I don't have any baby clothes, just a few personal items and decorations for a nursery, and tons of books. Infertility books, pregnancy books, parenting books, storybooks for the nursery. This baby that has never appeared takes up a lot of space, physical and emotional. I was glad the author addressed that. But I was irked by the term "real babies." (Also, based on current referral patterns, which I track with some habitual zeal because a friend brought home her daughter from China earlier this year, it's going to take rather longer than 2 years for her adoption to be completed. The latest batch of referrals only covered 5 days. It's not an easy wait.)

  2. I have yet to read this article (I'd most likely get tearful and I am at work).

    I am glad that the article is getting such a large audience. Maybe it will increase people's sensitivity just a tiny bit.

    I am so sorry for your losses. They are every bit real.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.