The Demands and Disappointments of Infertility
It is, or so we believed, our natural birthright. Birds did it. Bees did it. We did it. Just like that. In fact, most of the women visiting fertility specialists right now were afraid of getting pregnant and, for years, juggled IUD's, diaphragms, condoms, and pills to protect themselves from what they felt would be inevitable if they didn't cover themselves with creams and impermeable membranes.
The end of the twentieth century has had the last laugh, with hundreds of thousands of women finally throwing caution to the wind and finding out that caution was the last thing they needed. A whole generation of women that had felt so in control of their reproductive systems, found themselves at the mercy of forces so far out of control they could hardly be isolated at times.
"I was so prepared to be pregnant," one woman, L, said plaintively. "I dumped my pills in the toilet and waited the month you're supposed to wait. Then, I figured it would just happen. It's been 46 months--and no one knows precisely why--but I'm still waiting. And visiting doctors, and going through procedures. God, how I hate that word. If I never hear it again, it would be too soon."
Where there is expectation, there is disappointment.And there is enormous disappointment in women who desperately want to have children and experience pregnancy, but for one reason or another cannot. The two combined lead, in turn, to the taking of extraordinary measures to make it happen.
Like many others I see in my practice, had tried numerous in vitro fertilizations (IVFs), artificial insemination (AI), and high-tech assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) after having suffered two miscarriages. The process has taken years and cost many tens of thousands of dollars.
The toll has been high for her and her husband not only in physical and financial terms, but in emotional and spiritual ones, as well, having been thrust into the deepest parts of their souls to determine who they are, what they truly value, what they are willing to do without, and what they are willing to give up in order to have a child. They have boarded a fast-moving train, running on bio-engineered tracks and roaring past the stations they thought were theirs.
Dag Hammarskjold wrote in his private journal, Markings:
Thus it was.
I am being driven forward
Into an unknown land.
The pass grows steeper,
The air colder and sharper.