The invisibility of infertility is part of my normal. As I have written, I never expected to feel invisible during my own community’s awareness week though. Couple that with this piece by Lisa over at Life Without Baby and reading Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos’s latest e-book Finally Heard (which I HIGHLY recommend) and it all has me thinking  and feeling quite a bit.

Is the infertility community no longer my tribe?

Do I no longer belong there?

When I think about some of the people I am closest too in the community, even they may not fit in our tribe much longer as many of them are pregnant after their infertility struggles (which is technically what we all want as our get out of this tribe ticket). They may actually get shoved out of the tribe which doesn’t feel all that different than not be acknowledged.

Am I holding onto something that doesn’t even want me any longer?

I get it, some really struggle with my story. My story does not include successful treatments and ends without children. I think it is safe to assume my story makes our community sad and scared.

Why am I holding on?

I’m not ready. Especially as a therapist working with people in the throes of the infertility journey, I am not ready to be left behind yet. Or, is it that I am not ready to move on yet?

But more than that, I’m not done. My advocacy and impact hasn’t yet been felt enough for me to walk away without regret.

Do I care too much?

Is change even possible?

I want more. I want more as a survivor of the infertility journey. And, I want more for those still fighting the battle because I see the devastation on a daily basis in my private practice.

I simply want more, and as an advocate I will fight until I get it.

I want us to demand more from our infertility clinics; to be more than just their paychecks, to demand more mental health support and actual resources and to demand acknowledgment that sometimes we must stop treatments to save ourselves.

I want us to demand more from our culture; to help others understand that making a family is not always simple and hardly easy for many of us, to demand more fertility compassion and to practice more empathy than sympathy with one another.

I want us to demand more for and from ourselves; I want more than what we are giving ourselves permission for in the infertility journey. I want us to be more than our quest to become parents. I want us to trust that sometimes never giving up is the actually unhealthiest thing we are doing; we must practice hope balanced with active acceptance. I want us to know that we can write our own happy ending and it doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s.

I want to help instill these messages into my infertility community for many reasons.

  • Because I am a helper. I am most myself when educating, helping and practicing my spiritual gift of mercy.
  • Because I think these permissions could actually help our treatments be more successful and in the least help us not be completely destroyed by the journey.
  • Because I want us all to have the glory of being the happy, healthiest and most engaged versions of ourselves in this life.

And so, I want us to define our new tribe.

One that supports one another through empathy and trusts that there is room for all of us to belong. That if we are actually in this together we can change the unhealthy messages that surround infertility, pregnancy loss and recovery. And even though we may be in completely different places along the journey, we all can identify with what lies underneath this battle; the lifelong losses of what we had dreamed about and hoped for.

I am not ready to walk away from my infertility tribe but I also know and feel that it is not the healthiest place for me any longer. And sure, maybe I am simply in denial of my limbo land but I don’t think so. I think we all need this new tribe, we need these messages to change and we need to fight for ourselves; to rise ever upward.

Who’s with me?

Defining a new tribe; together in the


17 thoughts on “I Want More: Can We Define a New Tribe?

  1. Pamela says:

    Thank you for the shout out, Justine. I am with you! You ask and answer many important questions here. I have wrestled with some of them myself. Not long ago, I discussed a few of the challenges in this blog post:

    Will comment further in a follow on blog post since the ideas here advance and illuminate a few ideas I’ve been turning over in recent days…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love your piece, and thank you for the plug! So excited to see where this goes for us and those like us…I can feel the universe churning! Justine


  2. Isa says:

    Hi.. Not sure if I really understood every single point because I am a little bit in hurry and for english posts I usually need a little more time. I can unterstand you very well I think and me and Belle figuered out that it isnt simple at all… We left the big german infertility communities one day, as most women who finished their active path trough treatments, because there is no space for letting go and moving on in these Communities… But there was no other place in german internet where we could go.. So we started our own Blog.. And little by little other long term cnbc who turned out as non-mothers found our new home and we built up our own little Oase 🙂 After a while members of the aktive infertility communities started to follow us also, in the need of help and hope that there will be also a life without children after infertility treatments…mainly those ladies started to visit us who are f*cked up with the all time chakka chakka of infertility Business and Communities… And now we are a Kind of German “mixed tribe”… What is funny because our idea was another in the beginning..And also fine because we are like a “Safe harbour ” for many now. Nevertheless.. sometimes it is also a little bit hard because on that way we both stay also close to all that “active ivf stories”.. Much more than we planned;) xoxo from Germany, Isa

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Isa, Thank you so much for reading and this incredible comment. It sounds like you have built and found an incredible community, our tribe. Looking forward to reading more of your work! Justine


  3. Mali says:

    I also want to demand more from our infertility clinics, our culture, and for and from ourselves, so I wholeheartedly agree. I think through Pamela and Lisa and the growing number of No Kids After infertility bloggers, we are finding our tribe. It is out there, it’s just too often swamped by the majority, so we have to be nosy so that others can find us.

    I was never part of the infertility blogging community until after my losses and well into my no kids life, but I am part of it now, because I think that one way to start to achieve what we want is to remain part of the infertility community too. Inevitably, some of them will become part of our tribe, and we know how hard that can be at the outset. We can help them cross over, and also provide a (hopefully) less scary prospect for those in the trenches. And change the attitudes of those who go on to join mainstream, “people with kids” society. After all, if those who were once our sisters (and the occasional brother) can’t get it, what hope do we have in wider society?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Such a great point there at the end Mali! Thank you so much for reading, this comment and for being an incredible part of this community!! Justine


  4. I’m here from Pamela’s blog and somehow before yesterday I didn’t even know you existed. How did that even happen?! Anyway, I read back a year or more last night (perk of insomnia) and now I’m here to stay, whether or not you want me. 🙂

    This whole not fitting in thing, feeling like an outcast among people I once considered close friends is something that’s hitting me pretty hard right now. I’m glad that both you and Pamela addressed the issue. My tribe, the tribe of CNBC women here in the blogosphere has meant so much to me as I work through this shitstorm that is grief/healing/acceptance. Maybe someday I’ll find my advocacy voice like you, Pamela, Mail, and others have, but right now isn’t that time, and that’s ok.

    Anyway, I read a lot of your blog last night (a perk of insomnia)


    1. Oh my gosh! I am glad Ever Upward could at least get your through a terrible bout of insomnia!! ;). Thank you so much for reading and commenting!! Justine


  5. chels819 says:

    You’re such a great advocate! I’m so proud of how you’re using your story to grow a tribe…you’re a blessing! Keep shining!


    1. I am trying Chelsea, I am trying. Just wish I could get things out on a grander scale. Thank you for commenting! Justine


  6. loribeth says:

    Justine, I think I get what you are saying. It is incredibly frustrating to feel unheard & unrecognized within the infertility community — the people who should understand us the best — nevermind society generally. As Mali said above, I think we already have created a pretty articulate “tribe” (or sub-tribe, of the infertility community) of women living without children after infertility & loss — but we do need to keep speaking up — loudly! — & letting people know we are here, and that there is a good life to be had without children. People need to know this is a valid option, that while it may not be the outcome we all hope for, it’s not the end of the world either — we are living proof of that. We have come a long way since I started blogging in 2007, but for sure, we still have a lot further to go. That’s why I am so happy to see strong new(er) voices like yours in the blogosphere. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting! I am so thankful to be connected with other voices in the community! Justine


  7. Lesley Pyne says:

    Great post Justine, I agree with Loribeth & others, speaking out is a process & a slow one at that. The more we do the more we will be heard. We have a small tribe of those who are happy to speak out, we’re growing and we have a lot further to go.
    What I also love about this group is that we’re all different, we find and give support in varied ways & we’re happy to help each other out. I wasn’t expecting that & it’s just wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

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