I found myself doing something the other week I don’t do often. As I sat on a modern white square couch impatiently waiting for my hair stylist to wrap up with her previous client, I picked up a fashion magazine. Ugh. Totally not my style. I’m not trendy in any way but I can usually find an article or two towards the back that interest me. In this case, I was pleasantly surprised to find, among others, an article written by a woman dealing with infertility.
My first thought – Score! I find it incredibly therapeutic to read about how others are juggling life and relationships when baby-making becomes difficult. It helps me gain perspective and feel connected to people who know the same struggle we do. I was absorbed within a few short paragraphs. But as I read on, my thoughts changed in a way I didn’t expect.
In this case, mom-wannabe described a long and involved process stretching at least three years where she and her husband, with the help of doctors, tried to diagnose and treat their infertility. She was in her late thirties and he in his forties and doctors told them she flat out waited too long and her eggs had worn out. So the couple chose to move forward by searching for an egg donor. In her eyes, adoption was not ideal because she wanted a child that at least had some genetic connection to her and/or her husband. Plus, she wanted to know the feeling of being pregnant.
While those are different conclusions than the ones my husband and I have come to, I was OK with it. It was the details that came next that made me cringe.
The author went on to talk about the process of choosing an egg donor as though she was an adolescent boy looking for a girlfriend. Literally, that’s what she likened it to! She described looking at pictures of young women and wanting to pick ones who – she believed – were the most beautiful. She even wrote about how her desire for her child to look a certain way practically drove her to approach women on the street!
I was appalled. I just couldn’t comprehend putting so much concern into something I believed was so shallow, especially when just having a baby to begin with may not be in the cards for this couple.
Just as I finished the article, my hairdresser called me in for a shampoo and what I read quickly slipped out of mind. Later on, I reflected on the content of the article and author and came to my own realization – to each his/her own.
The bottom line is this: The choice of having a family in and of itself is very personal. There are reasons to have a baby that are selfless and there are reasons to have a baby that are selfish. I can’t deny that some of my reasons for wanting to start a family are superficial. But those exist in tandem with reasons that are profound and meaningful to me. I’m certain that this is also the case for this author and her husband.
I can understand how easy it is to read about this topic and become judgmental. It’s only natural. Infertility is an issue that has been shoved under the rug for a long time because it makes people uncomfortable.
The only way to change that is to bring it out in the open. This is not something that I am embarrassed about nor do I believe anyone else should be. But while quick judgments may be the easy response – it is not always the right one.
Christine is a news producer at WRAL-TV, which includes research for 5 On Your Side and producing the 10 p.m. weekend newscasts on Fox50. She lives with her husband and three dogs. Christine is chronicling her experience as she and her husband struggle with infertility. Find her here on Fridays.