“Infertile On Board” is an official product!

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Imagine my surprise when I received this comment on my blog:

“Hi Sarah, I stumbled across your link whilst doing some analytics and was quite inspired by your post. We’ve now put the sign you created up on our site as a specific sign – http://www.personalisedcarsigns.co.uk/infertile-on-board – with exclamation mark this time!”

I know people of all kinds have quite a reaction to, and many opinions on, the word infertile. So how did “Infertile On Board” come about?

It may have started when, almost two years into TTC, a Maya Abdominal Fertility Massage practitioner told me not to say the word “infertile” because my uterus would retract upon hearing it. After my initial internal response of “my uterus ain’t THAT dumb”, I continued to reel from this absurdity. I just knew it was wrong.

“I’m being robbed of one of the greatest joys in life and now it’s suggested I rob myself of getting to voice it too?”

“Why can’t I say what is? I haven’t done anything wrong.”

Not to mention the precious thread of common sense that if people who abandon, severely abuse and even repetitively murder their own children don’t need to worry about what they do or say in order to reproduce,

then I DON’T EITHER.

So, lo and behold, I started using the word infertile a lot more. And you know what? It felt good. It facilitated the grasping of my reality, dissolved shame and relieved me of the tremendous weight of trying to make something that I already didn’t control into something it isn’t. For me, the attitude of unrepentantly calling something as it is was the attitude that held power.

Or perhaps it started much earlier. Meet Lil’ Infertility Honesty.

Lil Sarah

Fed up with a neurotic mother and an impatient photographer who didn’t like her much at her illustrious 1974 Sears portrait photo shoot, Lil’ Sarah decided to stand her ground. (No doubt her LL Bean on crack sweater was also contributing to her irritation). When things quickly dissolved to the point where the photographer was desperately throwing stuffed animals up in the air and fake laughing in my face to try and get me to laugh, I drew the line. I decided then and there that there would be no smile for ANYONE that day. Nope, no sir you are OUT OF LUCK. Throwing stuffed animals in the air is NOT FUNNY (Painfully unimaginative, yes, funny, not so much), therefore I will not laugh.

The above was the best shot from the day and upon picking up the picture, the woman at the studio commented (to my Mom) something to the effect of, “I know this is not the picture you were after, but I think it really shows who this child is.”

Damn straight, bitches.

Suffice it to say I never did well being told what to do or say, especially when it’s something that compromises my truth for the sake of someone else’s mirage.

More recently, I can say “Infertile On Board” emerged from my local car travels while undergoing treatments. Whenever I’d get a period or was on meds or grieving the loss of yet another failed treatment, the bombardment from families with children sharing their status with the world via their back windshields was a constant. Yes, the white stick figured families were on full display here on Long Island, featuring each child, their hobbies, shoes sizes, pets, third cousins and the family ant farm all on one window!!

acura_scholastic2

 

Having to view this perpetual onslaught while enduring what I was enduring was disheartening to say the least. Where was MY sign? Like most things relative to the infertile experience, the answer was “nowhere”, of course. But I was working just as hard as any parent, while no doubt suffering a hell of a lot more for not getting to reap any rewards. I deserved a sign. I exist on this earth too, and, as I said before, I haven’t done anything wrong. So it was really there that “Infertile On Board” was born.

For me, it’s about not succumbing to a stigma. The fact that my husband and I could not reproduce, that we are infertile, has no relation to our worthiness. My infertility is about as much of a reflection of me as my brown eyes or the fact that I stand just under 5 feet 4 inches tall. It is not a reflection of my soul. I refuse to allow a word that simply labels this thing that randomly happened to me that I did nothing to invite or create hold any kind of power over me.

It’s about using the “be mindful” inference of baby on board to remind people that we exist too and are deserving of consideration.

Moreover, it has become about pride for me – a “badge of courage” as a friend of mine accurately put it. I’m proud to be surviving such a life crisis, whether the greater collective yet recognizes it as one or not. As my Mom, who conceived me on the first try and my younger brother on the third, so astutely pointed out to me somewhere in the middle of our TTC journey,

“Anyone can bring home a baby. But NOT getting to bring one home really takes a person. I love you more.”

And our community? Well, we have a lot to learn, no doubt, but people who live with infertility are a fascinating crew. Insightful, resourceful and industrious, those who authentically face their pain are some of the deepest and strongest as hell people you will come across. Ideally, broken hearts make for broad souls and I’ve encountered much of that along the way.

Infertile? Yes. And I’m proud to call myself one.

Will my car sign defiance make a huge contribution to the validation of infertility as a disease and life crisis? Perhaps not. And I get it, it’s not for everyone.  But it’s one tiny sliver of space and acknowledgement that, as of a few days ago, did not exist. And now, it does, thanks to the open mind and heart of a person named Simon from the UK.

http://www.personalisedcarsigns.co.uk/infertile-on-board

10 thoughts on ““Infertile On Board” is an official product!

  1. Well, thank you, Simon!! Why not, right?? I have to admit, Sarah, I (still, after all these years) have a harder time than you spitting the word out in public. But telling our stories, calling a spade a spade (and infertility infertility) is the only way we’re going to get people to start listening, talking to us and seeing the truth behind the myths & stereotypes.

    Speaking of which, I HAVE seen cars with just a stick figure couple them… or couple plus dogs &/or cats. I even saw a decal (online) that had a stick figure couple surrounded by bags of money. While I would never want to feed the stereotype that childless = money to burn, I have to admit I got a laugh out of that one. 😉

    • I’ve seen the one a couple of times that says something like “I don’t care about your stupid stick figure family!” A tad nasty, but it makes me laugh just the same.

      Oh, the car decals I could design for infertility…..twisted visions are already running amuck in my head as I type……

  2. 1) I hope you’re going to get some royalties from your intellectual property! If nothing else you get the satisfaction of spreading the word in a tounge-in-cheek manner. 🙂

    2) You were an adorable child! Somehow it does not surprise me that you questioned authority, even at a young age.

    3) Seeing “baby on board” or stick family decals sort of makes me want to spit on their door handles. But then I don’t because that’s not socially appropriate behavior and there are security cameras everywhere.

    4) I might just order one. It would be fun to see reactions. Maybe we can lobby Simon to create a “My daughter is infertile” placard in the tradition of “my kid is an honor student” bumper stickers.

    • 1) The term “intellectual property” caused me to burst out laughing.
      2) Awww, thanks.
      3) But do enjoy your fantasy just the same…..
      4) I always welcome partners in crime, and, I love your bumper sticker idea!!! My Mom would buy one, and my Dad would totally cringe which would make it even that much better…..

  3. I love the photo! And well done on the Infertile on board sign. My first thought was the same as Kinsey’s – I hope you’re getting some benefit for your idea!

    “My infertility is about as much of a reflection of me as my brown eyes or the fact that I stand just under 5 feet 4 inches tall.” Yes, yes, yes.

    Also to your mother’s comment. I love that. She expressed my belief why we – the no kidding after infertility crowd – are the real success stories of infertility. (http://nokiddinginnz.blogspot.co.nz/2012/04/real-success-stories.html)

    • No negotiated benefit for my sign, as I’m not exactly expecting them to sell like hotcakes:-)

      Fantastic post, Mali!!! Ironic that a position so scrutinized is in actuality so uniquely tough. I found myself trying to put into perspective how renegade like it was for one to write such a thing even just a few years ago in 2012. Thanks for paving the way.

  4. That’s awesome that your idea turned into a real product 🙂

    I think this says it all “It’s about using the “be mindful” inference of baby on board to remind people that we exist too and are deserving of consideration.”

  5. Just the other day, I saw a vehicle with a “Baby on Board” sign in the rear window, and I thought, “What would *my sign say?” I decided it would say, “No Baby on Board; Please Don’t Drive like an Asshole, Anyway.”

    Thank you for being willing to put your thoughts out there, Sarah. Way too many times those in our unasked-for shoes are self-silenced or there’s no social space allowed for our experiences. Thank you for making space for people like us.

    I just found this blog last Friday, while searching for “infertility” and “ptsd”.

    • Ha! I like your sign! I think there is also one somewhere that says “No Baby on Board, Feel Free to Drive Into Me”. Gotta love the sarcasm. And yes, we are every bit as deserving of social space as anyone else. Glad you found my crazy train:-)

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