The other day, I spent about an hour counseling a friend who has just passed the bar and is looking to break into the legal job market. Of the hour I spent talking to her, only 15 minutes was spent discussing her resume with some ‘move this here’ and ‘change that around’. The rest was spent trying to get her to stop apologizing for her lack of everything – legal experience, good class rank, etc. She would never get a job that way.
I thought about this as I was reading the over much-hyped article about infertility in Self magazine. Resolve has taken up the article as a rallying cry against infertility being ignored. I think this is missing the point. Being ignored is not the issue here. Not being able to sell our disease to the public as a crisis and a travesty that needs public support and funding is the issue.
After all, infertility is nothing but fault based, a sort of you-break-it-you-buy-it scenario. It is our fault that we can’t get pregnant: we waited too long to have children, we were promiscuous in our youths, we drink too much caffeine or alcohol, we were foolish enough not to request a semen analysis before the wedding and married men who shoot blanks, we can’t control our lady parts that have the nerve to grow outside of the uterus, we don’t have a uterus but can’t seem to grow one either, we just happen to be gay and have two of the same parts, our hormones are wonky because, hello, we’re just crazy bitches that way! As if this weren’t enough, infertility isn’t even fatal.
No wonder your average non-infertile person is going to look at infertile people and shake their head in disbelief that we want sympathy and money for treatment. Or, they offer up one of those famous lines that we should just adopt because there are so many kids out there that need good homes or that we’re being selfish for spending so much money (ours and other people’s) to do something that is supposed to be natural and free.
The thing is for infertility to be taken seriously as a disease that needs to be treated like other diseases with the funding and treatment, we need to change public opinion about infertility. I think one of the most crucial steps is that we need to stop apologizing for wanting the same experiences as our more fertile brethren.
I will say this again since it bears repeated. We need to stop apologizing.
People who don’t have difficulty conceiving don’t apologize for not having difficulty conceiving (although, frankly, some of them should). And, on the other end of the spectrum, people with cancer don’t apologize for getting chemo. So, why do we feel the need to apologize for wanting to have our own kids? We need to stand up and say, “we have just as much a right to conceive our own children as those who do not have difficulty conceiving .” We have to answer those who tell us to adopt. We have to respond when we are accused of being selfish.
Being infertile means never having to say you’re sorry.