Monday, April 28, 2014
Resolve to Know More
Yes, yes, I'm late. I had a good excuse. :)
A few weeks ago I spent an evening with a friend who I haven't really spent much time with before. She and I knew each other from choir, and then she moved out of the city awhile back and haven't spoken much since. But when she read a post about my infertility that I'd posted on Facebook, she connected with me and spoke about her own struggles, and we arranged a dinner date. (This is why I speak out about my infertility publicly. We could have been living side by side, not knowing that we had this connection, had I not said anything. And now we're closer because of it!)
It was a beautiful night, if a little cold, so after dinner with her and her husband in their gorgeous house the two of us took a blanket out to the backyard and watched the moon come up and talked about infertility. I talked about my experiences thus far, including what IVF was like, and she worked through a lot of her feelings from a not-yet-diagnosed but worried-about-her-future perspective. It was a really good conversation, and I realized I'd never been on this side of the table before, being the more experienced person giving encouragement and support to someone who's just starting out on the infertility journey. (I mean, I comment on new IF bloggers' posts often but I don't usually find myself in this position as a person-to-person connection, without a screen and keyboard between us.)
As I walked out to my car at the end of the evening and began to drive home, something about our conversation was bugging me, and it took me quite awhile to figure out what it was. I realized it was the way she kept saying that she felt selfish for thinking about her options to build a family, other than the old-fashioned way that hasn't worked for them yet. That if it didn't work this one particular way, maybe she just wasn't meant to have children and it would be too selfish of her to spend money on having a baby. And that made me mad. How did we get to this place, as a society, where women who have children naturally and easily are selfless, but women who want so badly to be mothers that they use IVF or adoption or another alternative method are selfish?
Infertility is a DISEASE. Yeah, it isn't life-threatening, so I'm not upset that we're not publicly racing for a cure the way we are for cancer or HIV or anything, but that doesn't change the fact that the WHO classifies it as a DISEASE. And as victims of this disease, we are sometimes treated like children who want a puppy, not like women who have a disease and deserve a chance to move past it. As victims of this disease, we are sometimes chastised for "selfishly" wanting to try IVF, or try embryo adoption, or try donor gametes, instead of "just adopting." In an unrelated conversation with an unrelated person, I got that advice. "Why are you trying IVF, when there are so many parentless children that you could be helping? I want to adopt, but I wanted my own children first and then I'm sure I'll adopt a dozen more once my own are a little older..." It was just fine, of course, for her to have "her own" children first, but because I'm infertile it's suddenly my lot in life to "help others," which means I'm considered selfish because I'd first like to try IVF? Adoption, like every other infertility treatment, isn't for everyone, and we all deserve to choose our path without the stigma.
So my contribution to RESOLVE's 2014 NIAW is Resolve to Know More about the DISEASE. Remember that infertility is a disease, and all women deserve to make a family in whatever way they can without judgment or stigma from those who haven't walked in their shoes.