Yesterday I received a comment on this blog, where a woman demanded that I cease speaking out against reproductive technologies because, until I have walked a mile in her (infertile) shoes, I can't possibly imagine the hell of infertility, and therefore I can't appreciate how any and all means of getting out of that hell - including repro tech - are clearly acceptable.
She assumed that if I am speaking out against repro tech, then my knowledge of infertility and repro tech must be purely academic. And if my knowledge is purely academic, then I have no right to express my opinion, which is so offensive to those who have actually walked the "road of hot coals".
I thought about this comment for some time. In the past, I have not made personal comments on this blog about myself, and part of me did not want to get into that. I disagree with the view that a person is not entitled to speak about something just because he or she has not experienced it himself. That kind of mindset would lock us in narrow and separate worlds.
Nonetheless, I finally decided to clarify a bit about my own situation, because it just so happens that I do know for myself the pain of infertility. My husband and I have been trying to have children for many months now. We have watched other couples we know - friends, family, coworkers - have babies, and more babies, and more babies...while we are still coming home to our two pets.
No, it is not easy. In fact, it can be very difficult, and yes, I have cried a lot.
In our own case, I still have hope. We are now being seen by a fertility specialist, and we are undergoing tests to find out what the problem is (or are - if they can be found). It is stressful, embarassing, awful...every time I go into that clinic I completely tense up and hate every minute of it, and yet it is our hope.
However, my views on repro tech remain the same. If in vitro or other repro technologies turn out to be our only hope, then we won't do it. We will try to adopt. That can, of course, be long and difficult and expensive too. Well, we may try to be foster parents too, I am open to that.
And whatever else happens...we trust in God and what he has planned for us. I do believe that things happen for a reason, and that everything, even pain and suffering, can be made to work for the good. My husband has been incredibly supportive through it all, he is truly a solid and great man.
It is certain that infertility is a great suffering. Sometimes I feel like a social outcast because I struggle with having children. Sometimes I feel like a leper...and I wonder, if it is my fault, am I ruining my husband's life, do I even deserve to be with him? What will my mother in law, who is eager for more grandchildren, think of me if she finds out that it is me? I just want to hole up and hide.
On the other hand, it is good to put things into perspective. I am currently reading a book about Africa by a Polish journalist who lived there for 40 years. He describes the terrible poverty, the wars, the famine, the dire living conditions. Those still exist today. People struggle with so many things in the world. In the West, people's suffering is mostly hidden within big houses, behind smiling faces, and we do not see it. Everyone seems happy, and we feel like the only ones who aren't. But the fact is, suffering is a fact of life.
In my opinion, the best way to deal with suffering is to take a step back and to realize that our suffering is NOT worse than a lot of other people's. People all over the world are terminally ill, they are dying, they are divorcing, they are losing their loved ones, they are losing their homes, their countries, they are hungry, they are persecuted, they are in war-torn countries fearing for their lives...in fact, in comparison with most of the world, WE are the lucky ones, in many other ways.
I still believe that the answer to the pain of infertility is NOT to transfer the suffering onto the children who are created - that is NOT our right, even as "infertile people".