This is the third installment of Barren Advice. You can ask questions that are fertility or non-fertility related.
Barren Advice is posted each Tuesday. If you have your own question for Barren Advice, click here to learn how to submit. Please weigh in with your own thoughts in the comment section and indicate which question you're addressing if there are multiple questions in the post.
How do you think the experience of infertility would be different if our entire society basically was infertile? Let’s say, for political reasons or medical reasons (environmental pollution perhaps?), it just wasn’t possible to get pregnant naturally. Let’s say you grew up with the expectation that parenthood was not necessarily a given. That you would have to possibly meet a set of criteria to have public approval & funding to reproduce – or at least, that you and almost every other person out there would need treatment. How would the experience be different personally? How would it change our society?
Well, if the whole world were infertile, the media would finally learn the difference between transfer and implant.
It's an interesting question that looks at whether we truly want to have children or whether we feel we should want to have children. Because we can never undo societal pressure (not to mention the expectations placed on us by anxious family members), it's impossible to untangle our feelings--to know if we want children simply because it is a deep-rooted desire (something encoded in our DNA like all survival impulses) or if it's an expectation placed on us that we follow without knowing that the impulse comes from somewhere other than ourselves.
It's hard to predict. The first generation would definitely still be fueled by societal pressure. But later generations could start playing an enormous game of "not it." Certainly, once you place the pain and embarrassment of fertility treatments into the mix, reaching parenthood becomes less enticing for some people.
Except the infertility community now can be seen as a tiny microcosm for this scenario. We all need assistance to reach parenthood. Some opt for treatments or adoption because the emotional and physical pain is outweighed by the chance at emotional and physical joy. And some opt to live child-free after infertility. It isn't that the impulse to parent isn't as strong--it definitely is--but the weight balances differently and the chance at emotional and physical joy doesn't balance out the emotional and physical pain.
Just as we all have a certain amount of money in the bank, we all have a certain amount of emotional capital in the heart. We can try to withdraw more than we have at hand--but that usually leads to a crisis later on when our emotional account is depleted and we're overdrawn. Some simply have a different amount of emotional capital--due to outlook, due to circumstance, due to resources. There are things we can do such as therapy that can earn a person more emotional capital, but there are also limits. Just as I couldn't turn a six figure salary as a school teacher, we can't earn unlimited emotional capital. We can wish we were richer and we can wish we had larger emotional reserves, but we have to work with what we have. Sometimes, we have enough emotional capital to pay for treatments or adoption. And sometimes, we simply don't regardless of how much we want to reach parenthood. And it's a healthy person who can recognize their limits and respect them.
Which is a long way of saying that I think the impulse to have children is taught to us AND it is imprinted in our genetic code. Therefore, I think the drive would still be there, even if everyone in the world required assistance in order to reproduce. There would also be those who choose to live child-free without the desire to have children. And there would still be a group--as there is today--who wish with all of their heart that they could become parents, but the roads to reach parenthood simply contain obstacles that are insurmountable if one is to remain true to their heart.
Turning this over to the blogosphere at large--what do you think would happen?
Want to ask your own question? Click here to see what you need to send in order to be included in a future Tuesday's installment of Barren Advice.