When I first started this blog, I had envisioned it as a vehicle for reconciling my insatiable love of all things domestic and my passion for feminism and what that meant for my identity. Mostly, I've veered away from the political and have instead focused on crafting, baking and whatnot. However, I've now reached an unexpected point in my life where I find myself needing an outlet to reflect upon my current situation and to share my struggles, both internal and external.
When I met my partner almost a decade ago, we were both somewhat shocked when we realized that the effect of simply being together had inspired in us a desire to have children. I had never wanted children, and granted, I was only in my early twenties, but I saw children as a sure-fire way to stifle my career (hah!) and that just maybe, I wasn't cut out for the whole parent-thing. I was also overwhelmed with a certain sense of feminist-guilt, that I wasn't being radical enough in my seemingly hetero-normative lifestyle. Now I wanted to children? It's not that I don't think, or didn't think, that feminists could or should have children, but that having children was a particular brand of femininity that I wanted no part of. And then I met my partner, and for the first time, I think I understood what 'biological drive' meant. Being in our early twenties, however, we both wisely agreed that we should finish schooling and secure some semblance of a career before embarking on parenthood. Besides, there was no rush, right?
I've always been fairly brazen about certain aspects of my biology. Part of what my feminist identity means to me is that a woman's biology should not be a source of shame or embarrassment; purchasing tampons should not be a painful or humiliating experience. And yet, the longer we try to start a family, the more part of me wants to hide under a rock and retract all announcements of, "we're trying to start a family". A painfully recurrent sentiment I hear from other women who are trying to conceive is, "why didn't anyone tell me this was going to be so hard?" If our sex-ed classes had taught us anything, it was that the moment you so much as think of discontinuing birth control, you will miraculously find yourself "in the family way". The longer that I'm on this journey though, the more I realize that there is a wealth of information about reproduction that is not only not common knowledge, but certainly not discussed. It is estimated that 16% of heterosexual Canadian couples will experience infertility, according to the soon to be defunct Assisted Human Reproduction Canada. Miscarriage occurs somewhere between 10-20% before the second trimester. Once a woman hits 35, her reproductive capacities start to do a swan dive. I'd never heard these statistics before we'd started to try to start a family. Now, these facts occupy a large corner of my mind and pop up into the forefront of my thought with annoying regularity.
"Stop stressing and it will happen" is a phrase that makes me seethe. Well-meaning individuals will dispense this advice along with, "it will happen when its mean to happen." This 'advice' is infuriating for several reasons. Firstly, events do not occur because they are "meant to happen". The universe does not give a shit about you. Events occur due to the laws of physics and probability, not because I calmed down, made a dream-board, and thought positively. Obviously, being a complete stress-case will not improve one's situation, but ignoring issues will not simply make them disappear either. Secondly, what works for some may not work for others. Just because your cousin got pregnant without trying does not mean that everyone will get pregnant without trying. An ovum has a shelf life of between 12 and 24 hours after it springs forth from its ovary. Sperm, if they are working properly, have a shelf life of about 72 hours, give or take. On average, a couple trying to conceive has a 20% chance each month. So, yes, some planning is actually involved, specifically if you haven't had success after the first few months. Finally, being told to "stop stressing," is stressing me out. The feelings of failure can be overwhelming some days, and then to top it of, I'm failing at being a positive ray of sunshine? "The Secret" can kiss my barren-ass.
So, there. Its public knowledge. We are experiencing technical difficulties. We are the 16% of Canadian couples. We are struggling with infertility.