OK, so I need some help, and I’m turning to you, dear readers, for your opinions and guidance. I do my best to be pretty understanding of all kinds of people and their perspectives. But there is something that I really don’t have much tolerance for, and I think it’s kind of callous of me. I’d like to get past it, but I need some help to do that.
As many of you know, I have very little interest in children, and no desire to have children of my own. Combine that with the immense pressure on women to tie their social value to children, the expectation that women want to and will have children, and the fact that fertility treatments are highly invasive for women, and the end result is that I have hardly any patience or sympathy for people who have fertility problems.
I just don’t understand why it is so bloody important for people to have “their own” children, biologically. There are SO MANY children who need loving homes out there. Would these infertile people really love another child less than “their own”? If so, I just don’t think these are people who should be parents in the first place! It seems so very selfish to insist on invasive and expensive medical procedures to conceive when there are so many kids out there who grow up in orphanages and the like. I kind of think it’s narcissistic, that these people who are so bent on having “their own” children really want their children to be little extensions of themselves. There are lots of ways to parent – why place so much emphasis on having biological children?
This all came up because of an article in my local paper, about infertile couples who want our provincial health care system to pay for their fertility treatments. I near lost it! (The Canadian health care system, if you don’t know, is not a national program – each province has a standard of care that they provide, according to what the province deems to be medically necessary. Cosmetic surgery, for example, is not covered in my province, for the most part. Life-saving treatments are, for the most part.) Fertility treatments are not medically necessary – it is not a health concern to be infertile, you don’t die from it, it isn’t something that interferes with physical well-being. I agree that it can certainly interfere with emotional well-being – but the treatment for that, in my mind, is psychotherapy, not fertility treatments that may or may not be successful and will most certainly be expensive and invasive. Also, what if it doesn’t work and people keep on doing it over and over and over again until they are happy with their results?
So that’s my feeling on infertility. It bugs me that people are so close-minded and selfish and narcissistic that they think they can only love “their own” children. I mean, it REALLY bugs me. Also, the nature of fertility treatments really bugs me too, and of course the state of society that ties women’s value to their fertility and ability to produce (perfect) children. BUGS ME. And I can’t wrap my head around it enough to be able to be sympathetic.
And I think that is rather insensitive of me. but there it is. So I welcome your comments on how I can reconcile these concerns!
UPDATE: Wow, there have been so many responses to this post! Since I wrote this, several people have linked to it on their own sites, mostly sites for and by people who have fertility issues. First, from my comment on discovering this:
oh my goodness, thank you all so much for contributing here! I truly appreciate it, as I am most sincere in wanting to understand more about why people feel it is necessary to have biological children and subject themselves to difficult medical procedures in order to do so… I am so very pleased and grateful that you’ve all taken the time to come over and try to help me work through my questions and concerns. I appreciate all of your perspectives. Welcome!
As there have been so many new voices here who are not regular readers, I wanted to point newcomers directly to my comment policy, which is mandatory to read and adhere to for comment publication. One of the most important points is to read all the comments before commenting yourself, as many things raised in the post get worked out in the comments. Every post is a work in progress.
Even as every post is a work in progress and open to debate, this post is especially so. From one of my comments:
please don’t take this post to be anything resembling an ‘argument’. I simply gathered together my raw feelings about infertility and threw them together in a post in order to try to learn more and overcome my insensitivity. I’m not arguing anything – arguments are carefully reasoned, and what I wrote in my post is certainly not that, just a collection of thoughts that I’m not proud of, and an admission that I need help to gain better understanding.
From another comment by me:
once again, thanks to all those who have made thoughtful comments here, as well as those who have written their own posts in response to this one… I would like to say that this post has been just what I hoped it would be, a wonderful opportunity to reach out and engage with people who have been very generous and kind enough to help me become better informed, as well as to help soften my heart. As I said, being someone who is quite open-minded, my narrow thoughts on this topic were disturbing me quite a bit. My deepest thanks to all who opened up and helped me get to know some different perspectives.
to those with harsh words for me: did you miss the point of the post entirely? I recognize and acknowledge that my thoughts on infertility have been insensitive, and the whole purpose of writing this post was to try to break through that. I would also encourage you to read the comment policy here, and refrain from breaking rule number one, which is basically akin to peeing on the carpet at my house, as well as rule number four, which is to read all the comments, and also rule number seven, attack the argument not the person. I should remind you that calling me names and accusing me of not being a Real Feminist is not really going to help you make your case. It’s just going to get your ass banned.
I’m willing to take a little bit of abuse for holding ignorant and insensitive views, even when at the same time I am reaching out to gain better understanding of infertility, but I think I’ll draw the line here. So if anyone else has nasty things to say to me along with your criticism of the position I outlined in the post, don’t expect to get published – if you want your points to be heard, please follow the examples of so many of the commenters here and be respectful. I understand if you’re upset and angry by what I wrote in the post, I really do. but, if you want to have your say, be mindful of how you do it. OK?
That’s all – once again, thank you to all who have contributed in a constructive way and who have helped to open my mind and soften my heart about the issue of infertility – it’s EXACTLY WHY I WROTE THE POST IN THE FIRST PLACE. My deepest thanks, and best of luck to you all.
UPDATE 2: Some commenters suggested I write a post about how your comments have impacted me and my thoughts about infertility. So I did. Read it here: infertility and a changed heart.