Melanie Notkin writes about her truth as a woman who wants to be in a loving partnership before making a baby, and about how that truth is keeping her from that baby. She calls is "circumstantial infertility," a term that once applied to me. I like it a lot, that term.
Most importantly, Melanie is writing about how life's circumstances are requiring her to re-write her personal story.
That's pretty much all our lives are -- stories we tell ourselves. Even documentable events can be spun and twisted to match our comfort level. The Infertility Chapter for most of us is one that we'd rather skip over. But here we are. And so we share it in hopes of "getting over" it. How selfish of us, no? Blathering on and on about our misery...
Here's the upside: I think it's possible, given how public conversations can be broadly influential over time, that all this infertility talk out in the open might actually benefit far more than just those who are struggling to get pregnant.
In a follow-up piece about being invisible, Melanie refers to the incredible viral nature of that first blogpost and to the many insensitive responses she received from readers.
She hit a nerve.
I think it's possible that our discussions about parenthood and biological drives and obstacles in the mix might promote talk within the larger society about really tough ideas, concepts that are bigger in a way than just "who 'gets to' have a baby".
My own infertility struggle brought me face-to-face with myself, or at least the person I thought I was. I've seen countless others echo that experience. Many of us believed without even thinking the thoughts out loud in our heads that parenthood was It, The Pinnacle, The Reason We Are Here (both as individuals and as a species). We still find a lot of reasons to hang on to that notion.
But maybe all this talk about struggling to do something (get pregnant/have a baby) deemed by everyone from "Society" to our own tortured psyches to be the raison d'être to such an extent that we believe if we cannot clear those hurdles, we are doomed... maybe the conversation will finally take us beyond that singular drive.
I don't mean to minimize the emotions. I believe wholeheartedly in the impact of biological drives on virtually everything we think, feel, and do. But I think I'm hearing the winds of change, or maybe I should call it a breeze at this point, in online conversations as people start to think more deeply beyond the initial "OMG I can't have a baby! What do I do now?!"
Most people are not so lucky as to have life present them with opportunities to truly delve into their motivations. Infertility -- if used well -- will make you wonder why you want kids in the first place. And not just in that off-hand, silly way that haggard parents wonder ("What was I thinking?!" the mom said as the children climbed the walls.) But in a way that, for me and some others, required dredging the depths of my soul, murky and smelly, and bringing that muck and mire up to the surface to show it some light. And of course, as those of us who've done it know, once you see that stuff more clearly, it's easier to move on, whether that means keepin' on that TTC path or choosing a different truth about yourself.
I don't think the "infertiles" of the world should keep that life-changing exercise to themselves.
For a second, just ponder what a world would be like if everyone of us clearly understood this drive to parent -- not as a species, but as individuals. And then imagine if that same world offered no societal bias about whether or not individuals became parents, so that each person could truly make that personal choice without fear of being judged or ostracized. Now, think about the children who might be created in such a world.
It's a tough thing to do, re-writing our stories. Some of us find ourselves in circumstances that make those revisions essential to our existence here. Bringing it up out there in "the Fertile World" is our way of offering what we've learned, not about infertility, but about living life.