One of the life lessons that I've always struggled with is that life isn't fair. Since I was a young (and rather whiny) child, I've been unable to keep myself from whinging "but it SHOULD be!" I drove my parents crazy by starting to cry whenever I saw e.g., a panhandler, because I thought that they should somehow save the day. I still struggle with the idea that I should somehow accept that sometimes life sucks, and that, well, that's life. Because it SHOULDN'T suck. Right?
It wasn't until I discovered my own infertility that I realized that not only is life not fair, but that many people, far from having compassion for people in pain, actually despise them. Having a rather Pollyanna-ish view of humanity (no, really, I do!)I tell myself that this is just a protective mechanism. To look at someone in pain and to attempt to truly appreciate what they are going through is to open yourself up to a world of hurt. It's easier to just slam your heart shut, and think of a thousand reasons that it's somehow the person's own fault (and therefore, that it could never happen to you).
When you're infertile, you really can't win. If you're under 35, then you obviously bought it on yourself by not having the good sense to "just relax", you uptight bitch. Or just maybe you secretly hate children. Or maybe you don't want it badly enough (just ask J-Lo!) If you're over 35, then you were selfish and waited too long, squandering your fertility while you held out for Mr. Right, or put your career first, or did something else that was ridiculously self-indulgent (because after all, wanting your child to have a loving father and a roof over his or her head is pretty unreasonable). If you are diagnosed with an actual medical problem, then obviously you must have contracted it during your former (or current) career as a filthy slut.
If you have somehow brought this bad karma on yourself, then the first thing that you must do is accept your fate. Obviously you should "just adopt". There are so many children out there that need a home. No wait, if you do that, then you are kidnapping a child from his birth parents (if it's a domestic adoption), and from her home and culture (if it's an international adoption), causing the child a "primal wound" that will never heal. How selfish can you be?
Obviously you should seek treatment. Insurance doesn't cover it? Well why should I pay for your problems? Look, do you want a child or not? If you're not willing to remortgage your house, sell your car, and live in a cardboard box, then do you really expect me to feel sorry for you? Really, if you can't afford to spend $50,000 on treatments, how do you expect to support a child?
What? You're doing IVF? But it's so unnatural. Who are you to "play god" like that? Are you really so in love with your own genes that you can't open up your home to one of the millions of children who are just begging to be adopted? You must be really "desperate" to spend tens of thousands of dollars to try to have your own child. Why can't you just give that money to help poor women raise THEIR children?
Considering donor gametes? Listen, buster, buying children is wrong. It is unconscionable to deprive a child of her connection with her genetic parents. You sick bastard.
NOT considering donor gametes? What is the matter with you? Are you so narcissistic that you can't love someone that doesn't look like you?
Obviously it just wasn't meant to be. You should live child free. Never mind that this means that the very thought breaks your heart. Not everyone is meant to be a parent.
Choosing child-free living? See, I KNEW you were too selfish to be a parent. You deserve your infertility.
Conceive without intervention after many years of trying? See, I TOLD you you were just being a drama queen.
Conceive with help? Boy are you lucky. Don't you dare even think about whining if you have trouble conceiving a second. Don't you know that thousands of women would give anything to be in your position?
If you've read this far, then you're probably wondering where on earth this all came from. Aren't I supposed to be off on a cloud somewhere relishing every moment with my beautiful healthy girl? Well, for the most part I am. I am happier now than I have ever been in my whole life. Eggbert is delicious (and currently asleep, hooray!)I love being a mama. My dream has come true. However, having come out the other side doesn't seem to have allowed me to just shake off all of the bad feelings. Not so much for me (although I'm starting to really struggle with the question of whether and how to try for #2, but that's another topic for another day), but for all of the other couples still dealing with primary infertility. I know that chances are that medical science will never get to the point at which no couple has to deal with this problem. To some extent I can accept that (although I hate it). Life isn't fair and all. However, every time I read yet another hateful article in which infertile couples are pilloried for whatever they've done to try to deal with their situation, the old bitterness comes rushing back. We as a society may not be able to get rid of infertility, but why on earth can't we at least lose the attitude?
(I thought about posting links to articles or comments that put forth every single ignorant opinion depicted above, but even looking at that stuff makes me feel horrible, so I don't want to inflict it on anyone else.)
On a sweeter note:
Do you remember my friend H, who lost her twins at 19/20 weeks last year, and had been on bed rest since week 9 of her next pregnancy (also with twins)? She made it to 34 weeks, and delivered two beautiful healthy girls! They are now home. Sleepless and loving it.