On being infertile at BlogHer

July 27, 2014

At some point, I will likely write a post on my BlogHer 2014 experience as a whole (probably on the other blog). But for now I’m writing about just a little slice of it.

As you might imagine, a conference for women will attract sponsors who often market to women. And if you’re a woman you are probably a mother. So walking around the Expo Hall and touring all the sponsors’ booths was a bit…I’m still struggling to find the right word. I’ll come back to this.

On the flip side, it was refreshing to see some sponsors that were not only NOT marketing to moms but also companies that don’t normally market to women specifically. So it wasn’t that I was truly bombarded or beat over the head with Mommy this and Mommy that. NOT AT ALL.

Yet…it was still there. Some were easy to ignore. One was a complete surprise that Mona & I stumbled upon in search of free booze – a baby product with an open bar. It was actually pretty awesome but totally unexpected. As was the girl working the booth who seemed genuinely curious about infertility blogging. She’d never heard of it. The whole experience reminded me of this.

Even though I didn’t feel bombarded by the presence of these sponsors I still felt it. And it takes energy to avoid the constant reminders that you are not a mother even though you’ve put your life (and your bank account) on the line to try to become one. And still failed.

I say this not for sympathy but just to describe (particularly for any new and/or fertile readers) what it’s like to walk around in a mommy-centric world after spending 4+ years and thousands of dollars, enduring 3 surgeries, being told you could bleed out and die at any moment only to keep living while your ectopic twins continue trying to kill you (for 5 months). Every single mom ad or kid toy is a reminder that you are not yet what you aspire to be despite all the time and effort you’ve put in to it. And sometimes it’s also a trigger.

So I was avoiding those booths. As were my other infertile friends.

Until it occurred to me that I’m hoping to have a child in my house within the next year and if we decide not to foster-adopt I need to save every penny I can (adoption costs more than IVF in case you’re not aware) and wouldn’t those free samples come in handy? My friend Jamie had the same thought.

And so I made the rounds for infant fever reducer and the car seat giveaway (I did not win) and all manner of other products for moms and kids. And somehow I ended up with nursing pads. Sigh.

But there was one booth I kept avoiding. I simply could not bring myself to visit it. Partly because it had no free schwag. But mostly because of its name: Merck For Mothers.

The name itself made me feel excluded. I am not a mother therefore this booth has nothing to offer me. I swear my skin crawled every time I walked past it. I just assumed they were all about something I could not and would never be a part of. You see, in addition to the name containing “For Mothers” their logo is a pregnant belly. Pregnant bellies are pretty much the absolute worst trigger for anyone who has lost a baby (and/or uterus).

But on Day 2 I ended up at a lunch table with two of the women who were working that booth and I listened as they described what they were all about. And I resolved to stop by. They still didn’t have anything to offer me. But their message is one I can get on board with. Their message is something I’ve written about before.

Their goal is to educate people on the dangers of pregnancy and encourage women to talk to their doctors. They are focusing on three specific pregnancy issues: Preeclampsia, Embolism (pulmonary) and Post-partum hemorrhage but their mission is to educate. I can’t (and won’t) write about or endorse Merck as a company because I have limited knowledge of the details of this campaign and know almost nothing about the company. But the message. The message is something I can get behind.

They asked me to commit to giving a friend a “PEP talk” but I refused because 1. I already talk about this enough and 2. I scare people when I do. But YOU can. You can help me spread the word. Perhaps if more people knew these dangers they wouldn’t restrict access to abortion and birth control. (yeah, yeah, I’m probably wrong about that but a girl can dream, right?)

Merck For Mothers

From the Merck For Mothers website

< / public service announcement >

Back to me and my infertile experience. I’ve only just gotten home from BlogHer so I’m still processing and loving on kittehs. But in the back of my mind I’m trying to figure out why this struck me this weekend. I mean, every day I’m confronted with ads targeted to Moms, pregnant bellies, cute little kids I want steal away (but never would). What made it that different to see it at BlogHer?

I suppose the answer is that it wasn’t any different. I’ve just realized, perhaps for the first time, how incredibly EXHAUSTING it is to move through life actively attempting to avoid something you see around you every day. It’s not like an ex-boyfriend who you can avoid by not going to places you know he frequents. (OK it sort of is, you can avoid parks and Toys R Us prettily easily) It’s there. Every day. It’s the pictures on your co-workers’ desks. It’s the lady washing her breast pump in the communal kitchen at work. It’s the pregnant belly you see while walking to lunch. It’s almost every ad you see on TV. It is EVERYWHERE. And it is… exhausting.

That’s the word I was looking for.

One thing I forgot to mention is that I absolutely would recommend – even encourage – BlogHer for infertility bloggers. There weren’t many there. We need to represent. But I’ll address this more in another post (I’ll link here when it’s up). Don’t be scared of BlogHer.


12 Responses to “On being infertile at BlogHer”

  1. I think also blogging probably has been a refuge from the exhaustion that surrounds you day to day…and as such a blogging convention doesn’t necessarily point to this sort of thing for people on our boat…or sounds like a very interesting experience. I think it’s really cool that you went. But I’m sorry for the bombardment. 😦

    • Fox Says:

      It really wasn’t a bombardment though. Overall it was a positive experience and I absolutely recommend it.

  2. Grace Says:

    I’ve always been interested in blogHer and now I’m actually blogging again, but I think us infertility bloggers don’t like to spend excess money. Not saying that’s right, just that it’s there :mrgreen:

    • Fox Says:

      Can’t argue with that. I’m going to write another post hopefully addressing some of the issues holding people back. I can’t fix them all but several can be overcome.

    • Fox Says:

      Absolutely the money is an issue. But there are ways to make it more affordable. Still gonna cost you though.

  3. kaseypowers Says:

    I went to BlogHer in 2012 and went to Pathfinder Day where I sat a the same table as Mona. What I found most interesting is that while only one blogger at the table self-identified as an IF blogger 7 of the 8 of us had experienced IF. S was a year old at that point so I wasn’t in a place to notice exclusion of mom-centric things. But I do remember reacting to how often IF experiences came up. Also, I kind of avoid exhibition halls, too many people. So, kind of not what your post was about, but I think the IFers are there, maybe just scared to write.

    • Fox Says:

      I did find that to be true. I met lots of women who said , “Me too” but didn’t write about their experience.

  4. diahannreyes Says:

    I really appreciated you sharing this and was very moved by your experience at the conference and the different emotions moving through you. Thank you for writing about this.

  5. Aussa Lorens Says:

    YES. Represent and don’t stay away from BlogHer or any other community because it is so important to hear from people who’s experiences aren’t exactly the same as everyone else. I’d had my own musing whilst in the expo hall about how most of it was very Mom-centric but I had not thought of how that would feel for someone who is dealing with infertility. It’s important for people to hear.

    • Fox Says:

      Thanks. We infertiles typically hide in our own little corner because most people don’t understand. But that’s also our own fault for not educating people more. And there’s a fine line between educating and whining on this topic. 😉 As for the Mom-centric expo hall, I kind of expected it because there are SO MANY Mommy Bloggers. But really, it could have been even worse in there.

  6. I agree w/ Aussa. We need to represent. That’s part of why I read D’s birth story for Listen to Your Mother – being surrounded by so many with “typical” birth/road to parenthood experiences is exhausting. I wanted to remind people that there are different experiences out there. Your post reminds me of the year I went to Type A Conference (when it was still in NC) and one of the exhibitors/sponsors sent everyone a gift ahead of time. A box of prenatal vitamins. Talk about a slap in the face.

    • Fox Says:

      Wow. Prenatal vitamins? That’s kind of ridiculous. I mean that alienates women who can’t have kids, don’t want kids at all or just don’t want more kids. Of course, I guess you can take them anyway, free vitamins and whatnot…

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