Friday, January 5, 2007

Musings on SHAME

So I've been thinking, why is being infertile some kind of shameful secret for so many of us?

Is it because it has to do with sex and American culture is totally hung up about sex?

Is it because no matter how progressive or liberal we are, deep down we believe that a woman's true purpose is to have babies?

Is it because we believe that a woman should be and do whatever she wants, and we just can't quite believe that we can't MAKE this thing happen?

Is it because somewhere underneath it all we wonder if this is our fault?

I have no idea what the answer is but I'm sick of it. The fact that I'm infertile isn't something that's my fault. I have nothing to be ashamed of. And yet I was thinking about how I know so many people who are infertile from my roamings around the internet, but in real life, it's still something that is spoken about in the hushest of hush hush terms. Why don't we just stand up and say "YES, I'm infertile and luckily, there are things I can do about it so that I WILL be able to be a mother, it's just not as easy for me as it is for some other people"?

So I had this idea of a putting together list of names of all of the women I know who are infertile. Sort of a "we're here, we're real people, and we're doing this together". It's not something that we (I) have to be ashamed of and yet somehow, we (I) still feel like it is...and it helps me to be reminded that there are so many others out there who are going through this, that I'm not alone, that there is nothing shameful in this predicament I find myself in.

It's my own private list for now, but it gives me hope that someday infertility won't be something that we all feel like has to be a shameful secret.


Carol said...

I think I'm not so much ashamed of it as I am just not interested in talking about it with people who don't understand. Too many ignorant comments and stupid questions, and it gets old after a while. Earlier on in this process I talked about it more than I do now. I'm just a little wear of it at this point.

But definitely for me the biggest one from your list is #3. I'm sure you feel this one pretty strongly too - given that we're both pretty successfull career women and I think we've both always pretty easily achieved whatever we've set out to do. And I think it hit me pretty hard when I finally had to face the fact that this was something that 1)didn't come easy for me, and 2) I couldn't accomplish on my own without asking for anybody elses help.

I've also always had a hard time with the word "infertile". I can't bring myself to say it. Feels like failure. Like admitting defeat. So - not "infertile", but how about "fertility challenged"?


sharah said...

I think I can say "yes" to all of those choices. Being able to have babies is so wound up in most women's self-image that it's mind-boggling to find out that you can't.

Accepting the label of "infertile" was one of the hardest things for me to do. But at the same time, it's been liberating for me -- I can now say "I have a medical problem, it's not my fault, and I'm undergoing treatment to address it".