A great post by Jess at My Path To Mommyhood really made me think today.
She talks in part about the kind of comments you receive when you’ve been trying to build a family for a long time without success. In terms of sensitivity levels, discussing options with someone in this position is as volatile a minefield as offering well-meaning advice to someone with a terminal illness. There’s a good reason the Internet is full of Top Ten Things not to say to people struggling to have children.
But living childfree is the one option that no platitude-bearer or advice-giver dares to mention, even if it’s clear that the person is suffering mentally and physically, and might be thinking about exiting the rabbit-hole of infertility treatment or quitting the interminable adoption process. I suppose others who are also stuck in limbo want to project their own fears and longings onto you and can’t countenance someone else giving up. Maybe parents just feel unqualified to suggest it. Perhaps it’s impossible to judge whether the person is ready to hear it.
In the face of my own reluctance to continue treatment, nobody – not the doctors giving out 5% chances of success, not the professional counsellor who told me I don’t know what I’d do without my daughters, not the friends and family listening to how ambivalent I felt about fertility treatment and adoption – ever mentioned opting to live without children.
In 2017, should the possibility of a childfree life after infertility really be The Great Unmentionable? Surely we’re more advanced than that?
Christy in Jess’s comments sums it up pretty accurately when she says:
“Too often, this option is seen in the same light we view death.”
That made me gasp, and then I thought: well, yeah, I’ve been writing similar things for six months now.
As a person living childfree after infertility it does piss me off; for once I’m not going to mince my words. In order for people in the IF community to feel better about this, something needs to change, but where do you start, and how? And is a change even possible, at all?