It's been a while since I mentioned some of the relevant things I've been reading! Here are some of the articles/blog posts/Substack posts/etc. that I've read & bookmarked since mid-December:
- Better late than never: The Today Show's website posted an article just before Christmas about "The quiet grief of being childless during the holidays." Subhead: "When so many of the best holiday traditions involve children — Santa Claus, matching family PJs — how do childless couples find their own holiday magic?" Some great observations!
- Canada's foreign affairs minister (and a potential future party leader/prime minister), Melanie Joly, who turns 44 this month, had a miscarriage a year ago (just before Christmas 2021), and has gone public about her loss and her IVF treatments.
- Jody Day's Substack newsletter for Conscious Childless Elderwomen is a must-read for CNBCers, especially those of us of "a certain age." Two recent posts: "Thoughts on Twixmas Croning: When life goes quiet and the ghosts get loud" and "Slipsliding away: Mothers, daughters and dementia."
- In her Culture Study Substack, Anne Helen Petersen (who is childfree by choice) had an interesting conversation with Jessica Grose, the New York Times's parenting columnist, and author of a new book, "Screaming on the Inside: The Unsustainability of American Motherhood." Worth a read, even if you're not a parent yourself! Sample quote:
I feel like so many of these ideas are just so deeply embedded for us, they’re subterranean. We don’t question them, because we assume they are true, because everyone says that shit about glowing. So showing that they came from somewhere, and often somewhere bad, is the first step towards ignoring these pressures.
- From Jennie Agg's Substack newsletter Life, Almost: "A baby is not a new year’s resolution: Let’s not treat fertility like self-development." Sample passage:
...in Western societies, fertility has become ‘a kind of neo-liberal responsibility’. We see it as our job to manage it, control it, optimise it.But should we? When the field of what we don’t know about pregnancy, miscarriage, and stillbirth is still so wide, approaching conception like any other self-development project feels to me like setting yourself up for self-recrimination and (more) disappointment....until we do know more, is it fair on yourself to treat it as a goal that can be worked at?More to the point, how can we truly be reassured that infertility or pregnancy loss is not our fault, when, as a culture, we act in the exact opposite way when it comes to achieving pregnancy?
- From the New York Times, 10 years after the "experimental" label was lifted on egg freezing: "Hope, Regret, Uncertainty: 7 Women on Freezing Their Eggs."
- From the Washington Post's Carolyn Hax: "She’s struggling with sister’s surprise pregnancy news." I find Hax is usually very sympathetic when it comes to matters of grief, loss & infertility. But beware the comments!
- This one is completely unrelated to infertility, loss or childlessness: Pamela Anderson ("Baywatch") -- who is Canadian and now living back in her hometown on Vancouver Island -- has a memoir coming out this month, and the New York Times had a really interesting interview with her. Besides being Canadian, she & I don't have much in common -- but as a writer/blogger, I was particularly struck by this passage towards the end (boldfaced emphasis mine):
For years, she says, she resisted offers to do projects about her life, unconvinced anyone needed to hear from her, content with her mark on the culture without wanting to challenge it. She isn’t after validation or affirmation and is not particularly concerned about her legacy.But the book, she says, stirred something primal in her. She says it’s the first thing in her life over which she has had complete control — down to the copy edits, which she insisted on transferring into the manuscript herself — and losing that control was not an option. “It really was life or death,” she says. “I felt I need to tell my story. And I really couldn’t let anybody do it but me.”We forget sometimes, when we talk about the idea of agency, that it’s as much about the stories we tell ourselves as it is about the actions we take. It’s not just about what happened to us; it’s about the role we feel we played in what happened. It’s the difference between posing for Playboy and a stolen sex tape. It’s why hearing someone recount your life to you can make you feel sick, while telling your own story, in your own words, can feel like a matter of survival.
- Finally, this is not reading, but something to listen to: a member of the Lighthouse Women (fomerly Gateway Women) private community I belong to has been writing and performing songs that tell her story as a form of therapy. She's been sharing some of her music with us there -- and it's wonderful! I asked her if I could share her music here with all of you, and she said yes. Her performing name is the name of her unborn daughter: Jaicie Claire. Have a listen to "You Were There" and "Path of Peace" (it even includes the phrase "road less travelled," lol).