Our Right to Choose
Does infertility divide men and women into two categories? Those who can and those who cannot? Or those who have and those who have not?
For women, this seems to continue a conversation that is so basic you can separate out the elements with your bare eyes.
Women who can have and do have babies and families. And women who do not.
Same conversation as women who stay at home with those babies and those who go outside the home to work? Same conversation as those women who choose to breast feed and those who do not? Same conversation as those women who choose to participate in attachment parenting and those who do not? Same conversation as women who choose to cook for their children and those who choose to feed them in a different way?
The conversation, taken down to its elements is the same.
Do we support each other? Do we support one another’s choices?
Or do we rip each other apart because the other woman hasn’t chosen what we have chosen?
Fertility Treatment Judgement
We see it even in fertility treatment; even within the subtext of infertility. We judge each other constantly. We judge ourselves constantly. Should we do that fertility treatment? Try that doctor/practice? We search the media eagerly to hear of the next best thing; whether it is a doctor or a food or an exercise, when we see that it’s linked to a successful pregnancy. We judge the efficacy of the other’s choices. If fertility treatment cycles work, we are tempted to rush and duplicate what that woman chose. When it is unsuccessful, we often condemn that other woman for her seemingly ridiculous choices.
We all have choices. They are not usually unlimited choices. Nor uncomplicated choices. Some of the conversation swirling around about fertility treatment implies that everyone has access to treatment. That is simply and absolutely untrue. Many men and women out there will never be able to afford or have substantial enough health insurance to be able to see fertility treatment.
And yet we continue to judge one another. Instead of getting on the same side, supporting one another’s struggles, we judge. Instead of supporting the other woman’s right to make a choice, we separate and are divisive.
I’m not diving into this here. Not going to make even more judgment on those judging. That would be just joining the party that I would prefer not to be at. I’m here to say a few things about this though.
Making Decisions for Oneself
I can barely make good decisions for myself. Living in my own skin, understanding my own life after having lived for decades; I still often have to search deeply for what is the best decision for me. I often find it much easier to live in my glass palace and instruct all those folks around me about what the best thing is for them. So much easier to understand and simplify a life or decision looked at from the outside. With so much less information, I feel so prepared that I know what’s best for someone else. By making declarations about a broad right and wrong, in effect, I am saying that I know what’s best for someone else. Despite not having lived their lives. Despite not facing their decisions from having lived those lives. Still, I know best?
I think I’ll stick to figuring out my own decisions, based on my own life. I welcome the compassionate and loving individuals in my life who gently comment, guide, and advise me on a very regular basis to continue doing so. I chose to invite that into my life and resist staying closed off and defensive. I know that I need help.
I just also know that help isn’t in the form of someone telling me what’s best for me. That’s for me to figure out. Whether it’s about fertility treatment or breast feeding or childcare.
And I support your right to figure it out as well. Any help I can give, I’m glad to do it.
But I know that you are the authority on your own life. And I will respect that.
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The Worldwide Breastfeeding Conversation
Breastfeeding is a huge conversation worldwide. Last week was the twentieth anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week.
I'm discussing it here because, as fertility treatment patients, you will probably get pregnant.
Let that sink in for a moment.
You will most likely get pregnant.
True, unfortuantely, not everyone gets pregnant via fertility treatment. But many of you reading this, in treatment, will become pregnant, carry a baby to term and deliver a healthy child.
I'd like to go with the hopeful for this one. If this topic is one you're feeling uncomfortable reading, then please stop reading. It's never my intention to make someone uncomfortable.
I know for myself, while I was in treatment, that there were certain things that I just couldn't look at. Adoption was one and breastfeeding was another.
It never made sense to me to consider my views on breastfeeding. There were times when I felt so strongly that I was not going to get pregnant, when hopelessness overtook hope and ran it into the ground, that it was simply irrelevant. Breastfeeding seemed the last thing that I needed to think about.
It's almost impossible to avoid hearing, reading and seeing breastfeeding these days though, and most particularly this week. There are lots of conversation about what's best for babies, especially newborns.
Breastfeeding Issues Abound | Where Do You Stand?
The conversations and controversies about breastfeeding issues include these topics:
- Is breastmilk healthier than formula, given the pesticides that we are all exposed to and can pass on through breastfeeding?
- Should women be able to breastfeed in public?
- Is breastfeeding outside of your own home something that needs to be regulated?
- Is breastfeeding in public considered immodest while lingerie ads are not?
- Should breastmilk be more available via breastmilk banks?
There's much more to it than these simple-sounding questions. As I was trying to write about it though, I realized that my bias came shining through. I try to avoid that in this blog. My mission here is to elucidate issues, not preach about them. To bring them to your attention and let you decide what you think about them.
How does this circle back to infertility and fertility treatment?
We are disappointed when we do not become pregnant easily. That's an understatment if ever there was one. Taking the next steps with this, we are disappointed in our bodies, in our reproductive organs specifically. Sometimes that disappointment is so vast that it defines us. We are infertile. Not we are trying to conceive or that we are in fertility treatment. We are infertile. Big red letters.
Breastfeeding and Fertility: An Affirmation of Life
Breastfeeding after infertility and fertility treatment is an affirmation of life, of our bodies' ability of doing just what they were designed to do. We won't all be able to, nor will we all want to, though that possibility is out there. A declaration of we women being fertile, feeding and growing our babies. A putting our infertility behind us, one breath at a time.
Just know that the possibility of breastfeeding a baby is not usually connected to understanding infertility or fertility treatment. You may very well easily breastfeed no matter how long it has taken you to become pregnant.
- Will you want to?
- Will it be something you're comfortable with?
- Is it something you may not know until your baby is born?
Lots and lots of questions around this.
There are thousands of shades of grey in any given moment or issue. Is there also a black and white? At the opposite of each spectrum, there is.
I'm celebrating the twentieth anniversary of World Breastfeeding Week. For me, that's the black and the white and all the shades of grey in between.