Friday, May 18, 2018
Two Worlds (A guest post written by Léa)
As long as I remember, I have always seen me in a future life surrounded by children. Having children was not a wish, it was an evidence about which I didn’t even have to think. The desire to have children arose only because what I had imagined didn’t come true after some time. It is as if experiencing infertility had woken me up. Something in me got broken, resulting in the end of what I would call an age of innocence. Even if life does offer us a child one day, infertility has forever made me into a different person and I see life through a different lens.
Now for me, the world seems to be split into two parts. Not between parents and non parents, but between people for who having children is the most natural thing on earth and those who had to acknowledge that it is not so: on the one hand, a majority of naive people, parents and non parents alike; on the other hand, a silent minority, infertile people as well as very few of their relatives and friends. Only this silent minority can see that the way to parenthood is uncertain, paved with fear, pain and loss.
Incredibly enough, the first group is totally unaware of the existence of the second one. Of course, everybody knows that something called infertility exists, but this knowledge is very theoretical. Most people think it is a temporary condition which can nowadays be solved with the help of medicine. Very few suspect how deeply the experience of infertility can change a person and affect your being, your feelings, your way of thinking and acting.
On the other hand, infertile people are quite often unable to identify who is on their side. While parents naturally form a group, meeting in places like schools and playgrounds, benefiting from legitimate privileges organised by the society (whose interest is to perpetuate), infertile people have to overcome huge barriers to get in contact with peers in their daily life. Indeed, parents can for obvious reasons find each other easily, but how can a group come together based on something its members are missing?
The burden of infertile people is so heavy because they very often have to go through profound grieve, experience loss and shattered dreams alone. They are facing the disbelief and the inability to understand of most of the people around them, and unable to identify people suffering the same pain. From my experience, the only meaningful help came from online communities. Various inputs from all over the world gave me the strength to think of a fulfilling life without children.
I had lunch this week with several colleagues. One of them will get married soon and wants to keep her birth name. Another colleague told her: “Anyway, you are only delaying the question of choosing between the family name of your husband and yours, as it will arise again when you will get children”. I thought this was a perfect illustration of these two worlds. I would never utter such a sentence. Maybe my colleague doesn’t want children, or she already knows she cannot have her own. But for the other colleague, there is neither a doubt about the fact that a married couple wants children, nor is there a possibility that this desire may not be fulfilled. I try not to judge these people too harshly: I used to think like them. But I wish that one day, infertility will get the awareness it deserves and that more and more persons will have consideration for the sensitivity of those who are facing this very existential crisis.
Written by: Léa, Europe