On “That” Facebook Meme and Coming Out of the Infertility Closet

“There are all types of courage,” said Dumbledore. “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies but just as much to stand up to our friends.”

JK Rowling
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

When I was 25, I met up with a couple of friends on the corner of Chestnut and Fillmore Streets in San Francisco. As I walked across the street, in the crosswalk, legally, a red BMW 325 whipped around me and honked. A guy inside the car screamed: “Move your FAT ASS, BITCH!!”

I will never forget that moment as long as I live.

Everyone knows words hurt. Even when you are in a particularly good place, as I was in that moment (newly in love with Darcy, healthy, young and vibrant). But imagine being in a really sad state. When you are sad and vulnerable, you can be pierced to the soul by some venomous words, like these of Amy Haible of Maine. Amy Haible commented on the latest NY Times article:

Adopt, adopt and adopt. Our overpopulated world has too many beautiful children without parents. There is no small amount of ego in needing to have ‘your own’ child. Like #15 said, relax, let go, have fun. And there are worse things than not being able to conceive.

40 people recommended that comment, by the way.

I doubt Amy Haible of Maine knows or cares how much hurt she dished up in those 46 words.

No wonder so many people suffering through infertility turn to the anonymous, nurturing and incredible online community. So many of us are raw, down, hurt. Some of our babies have died. Some of us have waited years for adoptions that have fallen through. The last thing we want to do is welcome the Amy Haibles of the world onto our virtual, friendly front porch. She is our nemesis.

But the truth is many of us know Amy Haible. She’s our neighbor. She’s our cousin-in-law. She’s our former co-worker. And we are connected to her through Facebook.

When the now infamous Facebook meme happened, many of us cried when we saw the endless faux pregnancy announcements, which turned out to be a misguided at best attempt to raise awareness for breast cancer of all things.

Some really brave bloggers dared to call out the Facebook meme. Stand up to their friends and tell them why what they were doing was offensive. Write about it on their blogs.

Stirrup Queens
Runny Yolk
Hannah Wept, Sarah Laughed

They state quite eloquently, much better than I could, why this meme hurt.

And after bravely posting and standing up for the infertility community, Mel and Elphaba began to get comments from the Amy Haibles of the world.

Well, I stand with them.

So go ahead. Make your mean-spirited comments. Bring it. Because you are petty and cruel.

My name is Jessica Carroll Jaffe. I am infertile.

This is me and a puppy.

Nothing you can say will change my mind. Because I read this tweet today:

This is what infertility feels like.

And no words you can spew will hurt worse than feeling this way.

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43 Comments

Filed under Infertility

43 responses to “On “That” Facebook Meme and Coming Out of the Infertility Closet

  1. St. Elsewhere

    Very well said!

    I posted about that meme too. I think that whoever started it gave no thought to the content of the meme in itself and managed to make an ass of everyone who did it.

    Surprisingly, some of the people in my own FB pals list who have done it are people who have had children through IVF – fellow infertiles.

    But I think that most people did it just because they thought it was funny. Unfortunately, funny or whatever that it was, it was a huge zero in terms of its actual purpose – raising breast cancer awareness. Nothing, absolutely nothing in the meme leads you to think of breast cancer awareness.

  2. Alright, I have missed this whole thing, didn’t come around to my neck of the woods through fb anyway. But I totally agree, it has nothing to do with pregnancy, there’s no connection at all. You can do so much to raise awareness in a better way were the real aim is clear. why speak in riddles – no one will understand the message anyway. And that tweet says it all, it really does.

  3. Nicely said. I made a statement on FB (copied from an eloquent source), but I have not posted to my blog about it. Partly because it is difficult to blog right now (working in China and blogger is banned) and I’m just not sure what to say that would be as well worded as Mel, you and others.
    Thank you for your post.

  4. You said this perfectly. I just found myself skimming over those statuses and ignoring the private messages. My mom who had breast cancer also finds those memes stupid. Thanks for sharing your heart. You are amazing.

  5. Mo

    That brought tears to my eyes.
    You are awesome Jess.
    I posted my blog on my FB profile last night, and actually had an old friend, who I hadn’t spoken to for years, reach out to me. She recently had a baby, but it turns out that it took her and her husband two years of trying.
    I think that if we look at the upside of this, at least our outrage has brought a little more awareness to the world, and I know, brought me and this friend together again through a (more) common (than anyone could imagine) struggle.
    xoxo

  6. Good for you! I applaud your bravery. I posted about it as well, and I am appalled that Mel and Elphaba are getting negative comments. I wish people would take 5 seconds and reflect before they blindly follow the latest FB meme or spew thoughtless nonsense.

  7. I’m proud of you too–this totally got me teary. And you do not have a fat ass–you are gorgeous! Inside and out.

  8. Wordgirl

    I have just a moment as Z finishes her breakfast –but I didn’t want this moment to pass by — the moment as I read this — and realized the entire time I was holding my breath —

    And how is it we remember these moments as well — the red BMW moments? Mine was in Boulder — I remember exactly the street — in front of the restaurant that was at the end of a street filled with condos we called ‘the ewok village’ — and like you — I was so young — and then, in that moment — the cruelty of others.

    Thank you.

    XO

    P

  9. Woman, I want to bake you cookies and file your taxes for you. Thank you for blogging about this.

  10. Infertility seems to belong in that list of human experiences that are very difficult to understand……until you are faced with them personally. I remember hearing stories myself long before any of this was relevant to my life and not really getting it. Luckily, not fully understanding and being an insensitive a$$ are separate issues. I’d bet money that insensitive Amy would change her tune (and, hopefully, her tone) drastically if she ended up in the infertility boat.
    Still, it’s worth it to work to educate those who are lucky enough not to get it. Well done! And, not that it truly matters, but you are beautiful.

  11. Absolutely beautiful post…just like you. Kudos to you for standing up and coming forward like this.

  12. myjourney7283

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This is such a great post. I truly appreciate people like you and Mel and all the others who have posted about the audacity of the fake pregnancy announcements on Facebook in order to bring about awareness for breast cancer.

    I wish someone could explain to me how fake pregnancy announcements do anything for supporting such a worthy cause as finding a cure and supporting those suffering breast cancer. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!

  13. Mel

    Such an amazing post (and yes, you are gorgeous!). My hope is that Amy Haible googles herself, finds this post, understands how far-reaching her words went, and responds (kindly).

  14. What a wonderful post! You are awesome, with nary a fat ass in sight. And Amy Haible of Maine is surprisingly easy to locate on the internet. (Just sayin.)

  15. You ROCK! And you’re gorgeous!

  16. Terrific post. You are GORGEOUS. And brave and inspiring.

  17. Brava. Such grace and chutzpah, all rolled into one. Jessica- it is bee-yoo-tiful to meet you darling. I’m so sorry we have to be in this same crappy club together, but I’m so honored to know such a brave, inspiring woman.

  18. JustalittlePCOS

    I love this post. You are so brave. I envy you for that.

  19. Beautiful! I burst into tears all over again when I read my own words. :(( I couldn’t sleep last night and I’m so tired today. Infertility is a disease…eating away at our personality, our happiness, our marriages. Insensitivity runs rampant. The faces of infertility however are beautiful and our hearts strong!

  20. internalplumbingissues

    */* great post, it is sh*te that we are in the same crappy ball park I wish with all my heart that I could change it for all of us, but I am glad I have ‘met’ so many wonderful women that perhaps I would never have crossed paths with otherwise. Thankyou x

  21. Lut C.

    Ignorance is bliss – at least to the ignorant one. Sigh.

    I admire you for coming out.

    That tweet sums it up.

  22. Amazinhg, beautiful, wonderful post. Thank you so much.

  23. Marci

    What’s confusing to me is that the same people who tell me that maybe G-d doesn’t think I’m ready to be a parent or (in the case of the commenter to Elphaba don’t DESERVE to be one) are the same people who on the other hand tell me I should adopt.
    On the one hand, they subscribe to the Just World fallacy (that the universe is ordered and all things happens for a reason, and that bad things happen to bad people etc.http://youarenotsosmart.com/2010/06/07/the-just-world-fallacy/) which is that I don’t have a child because of something in me. And on the other hand, they reject it by saying that I should adopt. In a Just World, I shouldn’t have to adopt. All the children who DESERVE parents would have them. So if they don’t have parents, clearly that’s because G-d isn’t ready for them to have parents.

    It sounds ridiculous when its stated that way, doesn’t it? I just wish I could get the word out that infertiles aren’t infertile because we deserve to be any more than an orphan deserves to be, or a child deserves drug-addled or neglectful parents. It’s an injustice in the world.

    Congratulations on your coming out. I hope you receive nothing but love and support.

  24. This is a marvelous post, and you are a brave and beautiful person.

    I was thinking the same thing as Mel about Amy Haible finding herself here. My guess is that she has absolutely no idea how hurtful those words were, and how equally insulting they are to infertile people, adoptive parents, adoptees, and parents placing their children for adoption. Oh, and then there are the fertile people who have their “own” kids, and apparently too much ego too. Sigh.

  25. what a wonderful post.
    so happy to be part of your coming out.
    kudos!

  26. Esperanza

    Struggling to find the words here. I feel like, as a commenter, I have a lot to live up to, ESPECIALLY on this blog and this post. 😉

    I know you well and I know how hard this was for you to do. I am so incredibly proud of you for putting yourself out there. So proud. You are an inspiration to me now and always.

    Sadly I must retreat for now into the labyrinth of my real life. But I do so smearing tears from my cheeks and with a heart full of all subtly complex emotions that only this community, and wonderful women like you, could ever incite.

    Thank you for your strength, your support, your love and most of all your example.

  27. Excellent post. Many of us have had the same thoughts. And like others said, you are beautiful–obviously that dingbat was suffering from delusions and a severe case of diarrhea of the mouth. I applaud you for your stand.

  28. You just gave me goosebumps.

    (I’m also quite sad that Amy is from Maine! I know that’s not the point, but I just wanted to say that any way. She’s shaming my state!)

  29. Thank you for doing this … for putting yourself out there, and for adding your voice to the community of advocates, on behalf of those who can not speak, for whatever reason, for themselves. Though I didn’t post about the meme on my blog, I did respond to others’ posts about it, all of which were removed, and replaced with real information about breast cancer awareness. Kudos to you and the others who helped to turn this meme around!

  30. I’m inspired by your words and how you’re standing up for all of us. Thank you for voicing these thoughts and feelings so eloquently.

  31. the saddest thing is that these Amys Haibles of the world aren’t really to blame. They’re just ignorant. Because NO ONE knows the first thing about infertility, let alone adoption.

    Just a few years back I also thought that our planet is overpopulated with babies waiting to be adopted – and it was life-changing and humbling when I found out just how long, complicated, hard – and outrageously expensive – adoption is.

    How many psychological issues and dilemmas are attached to this decision.

    And how many years of heartbreak lead into this decision.

    Until the public gets better educated on this topic – the same way that we, as a society, got educated and learned to accept AIDS or homosexuality (not that I equal these things) – the world will remain full of Amys.

  32. kate

    Brave of you. I appreciate you speaking out and letting people know that it is NOT OK.

  33. I’m blown away. Beautiful beautiful post. Congrats on the ‘coming out’ may it inspire many more to be able to do the same and hopefully it can inspire others to not be such assholes. 😉 again, beautiful post. Thank you for sharing!

  34. Port of Indecision

    It’s so trite, but so true, that no one can really understand the special hell of IF and loss unless they experience it themselves. And that’s when i think the advocacy/awareness/education attempts about IF and loss become so frickin’ frustrating. Yes, you can explain to someone exactly why there’s no “just’ about adoption, and eventually they’ll understand the nuts and bolts of that process, or of IVF, or whatever, but it really is so hard for people to imagine why we can’t “just get over it.” Even the people who don’t say it, because they have empathy and understand how hurtful and dismissive it is, probably don’t actually understand WHY.

    I’m having a really hard time explaining what I mean. I guess what I mean is we can explain the facts to people, the procedures, the paperwork, the processes; it’s much harder to explain the heartbreak.

  35. Rachel

    If you can do it, so can I. My name isn’t Eggs in a row…its Rachel. I’m scared, tired and anxious, but living with infertility.

    Amazing post.

  36. Lots of great posts on this subject, but yours is one of the best I’ve seen. : ) Unfortunately, we all have Amys in our lives, but you & my other bloggy friends more than make up for them! : )

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  38. Thank you for this wonderful post.

  39. This post took my breath away. THANK you.. thank you. i hope we can all unite our voices and help more people understand that infertility is NOT a 4 letter word.

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  43. Here from the future via Time Warp Tuesday and so glad to get to revisit this post and comment on it this time! I recall reading it back in September and being so very proud of you. I am not sure why I didn’t say that here then, but am sorry and pleased to be doing so now.

    “Coming out” is not easy, I know having done so earlier this year as well. I wrote about my experience doing so in my Time Warp post today. Though I believe it was worth the risk for me, it was not without growing pains that made me think twice about what I had done both before and after I shared about my blog with our extended family and friends.

    As we have talked about many times over the years in the ALI Community, how people deal with Adoption, Loss and Infertility is more than anything a sensitivity issue. I wish more people in general were able to be sensitive to and compassionate with others who are going through difficult and painful experiences that they can’t begin to understand, whether is is IF, loss, cancer or anything else.

    I especially appreciated slowmamma and zygota’s comments here. I agree with so many who said that a lot of people who haven’t dealt with adoption, IF or loss are just ignorant, but I don’t believe that is an excuse for their behavior and especially when it comes to writing comments like Amy did on the NYT article or participating in memes, like the one you talk about on Facebook, without considering the ramifications of their actions.

    So thank you for being strong, for being you (and I echo all those who have said how beautiful you are) and for sharing your story (openly) here to advocate for those who aren’t willing or able to speak out. I do hope and pray that someday our ALI Community will be better understood and respected in the public eye, including and especially in the media.

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