Posted by: DD | November 5, 2006

no. 311 – Uncommon Thread

Most of you have probably read by now something about the Pomegranate Thread, which is the Common Thread that is to be worn as a visible identifier to each other that we suffer from or are recovering from infertility in some form or another.

Well, I just can’t get on board with the movement and I would hope that no one takes my decision personally.

Both my husband and I are very open about our conception woes to the curious fertile masses who wonder if we will have more children. But the thing is, they are only curious up until the point they are told that we have gone through two very emotionally draining IVFs and had a couple of miscarriages to boot. Talking about dead babies is, strangely enough, the proverbial turd in the punchbowl.

Now I understand the point of the Common Thread is to casually identify myself to another infertile, which then in a perfect world, we spontaneously link arms and skip down to the nearest shoe store to bond over a pair of kicky espadrilles. Ironically, in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have to deal with all this crap in the first place.

Why am I being such a cynic? In the course of one and half years of making in the excess of 30 trips to see my RE, and seeing on the average 2-3 different patients in the waiting room on each trip, not ONCE was any kind of contact – either from me or the other person – ever initiated. When you go to sign in, by some kind of silent understanding, if someone is already at the counter, you give them at least five feet of space. You don’t read their name on the board. And when you sit down in the waiting area you automatically find the seat that doesn’t face anyone else or is in direct line of the television which acts as an instant buffer.

I think we work so hard on protecting ourselves from ourselves that we walk around with blinders even amongst those we recognize as wearing the very same blinders.  Maybe it’s because of that blogging-aged topic of "Whose pain is greater." I mean do I really want to compare my story with someone else and then be forced to think that I’m either very pathetic or that she has nothing on me?

Blogging about infertility is different. We don’t read each other sites and gage our experiences against them…do we? I certainly have just as many non-infertility blogs on my bloglines as I do infertility related, but I didn’t make a choice to read any one of the infertility blogs just because they are, or were, infertile. And in that same vein, I would prefer not to make real-life friends just because we have this one thing in common, especially since I refuse to let infertility exclusively define me. We need to give ourselves some credit. There’s so much more to each one of us than what compels us to blog in the first place.

PinI guess when I hear how two strangers noticed each other’s pomegranate threads and became BFF, I’ll be willing to think of it as more than just an adult version of the friendship pins from the 80s.



  1. Definitely a valid point of view (and very well-put). And I think a lot of this does have to do with your experience. My clinic was the opposite and it sounds like my experience was the exception to the norm. People spoke in the waiting room all the time. People shared their stories and passed along information. Though definitely–with the outsider–they want to hear the minimum. Just have their suspicions confirmed or understand the timing of things, etc. No one wants to hear the details of my hoo-haa. Except for other infertile women who ask questions to gain information. And then we skip to the store and bond over shoes 🙂 Boots, though–just because it’s now winter.

    Great post.

  2. I draw the line at magnetic car ribbons. OK I draw it a few steps before that but anyway….

    Plus, I could not put a pomegranate ribbon on my vintage red and white checked and very mod jacket – that would clash.

    Seriously, I don’t mind if someone asks about my infertility – I gladly share way to many details but I don’t want to wear a ribbon. It is just not my thing.

  3. I’m on the fence about it. On the one hand I’m not a ribbon person myself, but on the other it really would be encouraging (yes, and depressing, too) to know how many other women out there are affected. But I fear you’re right about the danger of there being some sort of unspoken competition to see who really “deserves” such a ribbon — “Is she as infertile as me?” — and that would make things even more depressing than they already are.

  4. They chose a red thread to wear on your wrist? How very kabbalah-like. I think whatever makes someone feel like they aren’t alone is helpful…but personally I wouldn’t wear it.

  5. Like you, at my clinic nobody speaks to each other in the waiting room. If we don’t speak there then how is a red string on my wrist going to help anybody? Not to mention that now that I’m pregnant, and obviously so, I would feel a little weird about it.

    I’m very open about our struggles. Really, all a person would need to do is say something to me or even an acquaintance of mine to know that J and I had fertility problems. Much to J’s embarassment!

  6. I’m not sure how I feel about it. I haven’t done it yet. Sometimes I’m feeling particularly crafty and would like to go out and get some thread, and make a bracelet or ribbon. Other times, I figure it would be a waste of time. I’ve been getting more and more comfortable with talking about my infertility but I’m not sure whether I’d be comfortable talking to some random person who happened to notice a ribbon, whether they were a fellow IFer or not.

    I would feel weird about it while walking around with P, also.

  7. While I think it’s a great idea on the one hand… on the other I know that just knowing there are others out there doesn’t always make me personally feel better. I’m very open about our infertility struggles… however my office too doesn’t really invite others to talk to one another. I think other than a friend I hadn’t seen in a really long time which equated to awkward conversation I haven’t talked to others waiting to get their blood drawn or name to be called. It just isn’t an office that invites conversation. Now the bulletin board I’m on – all of those women go to the office and are a riot and if they were in the waiting room we’d probably be having totally inappropriate conversations about one of the RE’s car and soul patch or some other tid bit we know about them.

  8. Well done for bringing this up. I hate how gimmicky the whole bracelet thing is, so I’m hesitant to jump on board with anything that utilises a coloured string or band.

    That aside, I would never wear one myself for a couple of reasons. First of all, I don’t want to be outed as infertile. I still feel as if it’s an intensely private issue for me, so I’d rather not have to vocalise my problems. I know most people wouldn’t know what it stood for anyway, but if they’d ask, I wouldn’t want to share.

    The other problem I have with it is that I find it very isolationist. Yeah, infertility is a common bond that the bracelet-wearers would have, but don’t we already feel on the fringes thanks to our wonky insides anyway? I don’t want to feel like even more of an outsider.

    As you say, does this mean that if two people are wearing the bracelet, they have so much in common? My parallel is the expat thing – people here always think I am desperate to meet other Americans. Why? Because we share the same nationality we must get on? In the US I wouldn’t be friends with just anyone just because we are both Americans, why would I do that here? I think it’s the same with this bloody thread. I don’t think I’d have a lot of common ground with every single infertility blogger, so there is no skipping off into the sunset with someone just because we have both had IVF.

    Phew…I’m done now. Hijack over.

  9. Life is so full of coincidences.

    1. I’m at home with lots of time on my hand, and just decided I should peruse blogs to take my mind of my own misery, and I click at Schmutzie and BOOM! I’m at your page. I’m at home with lots of misery because I’m on “recovery leave” after we lost our “Tectonic Baby” on Nov 4 via surgical intervention. I have three scars to remember TB by.

    2. I’ve been eating to keep me occupied because, frankly, my eyes are starting to burn from all the saltwater that passes through them as of late. I’ve been going hog wild with the pomegranates since they’re in season and take some time to eat.. So I blog about heartache, and my next blog is about pomegranates (sigh). I’m trying to tell myself something subconsciously maybe if pomegranate = fertility?

    Thanks for the great posts (historically and current) while I sit here with a heart full of misery and of hope for you, for me, for Wolf, and for Tectonic.

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