Disclaimer: I write this from the precarious position of a woman who managed to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby almost the moment I decided I wanted one. Having said that, as a person that has experienced both the circumstances indicated in the title, I also declare myself qualified to ramble forth on both. And why the inability to experience one should not stop one from experiencing the other.
That this conundrum existed in people, was a fact that struck me only when I got pregnant. While interacting on an intimate basis with women – dear friends, valued acquaintances – who couldn’t. And were struggling to. For years. I would safely guess that every one of us knows at least one person in that situation. I know many. And I could never understand why.
Not “why can’t they get pregnant? Why are they so desperate? Why is it so important?” Not even “why are they battering their bodies and making themselves miserable?”. But, “why are they giving up on motherhood just because they cannot get pregnant?”
Pregnancy is a temporary state of affairs. Motherhood is a permanent state of mind. An altered state of life. Forever. When women speak of motherly instincts, and rant about the difficulty in getting pregnant, and the biological clock ticking, I always wonder why they are mixing up issues. They are obsessed with pregnancy – rightfully so; after all, it IS a validation of one’s feminity – but overlooking the reality of motherhood altogether. We ALL know – one doesn’t need to get pregnant in order to become a mother. Everyday there are women – and men – who take up the responsibility, the challenge of parenthood with children not born to them. I am not talking adoption (though I’m heading there). I’m talking social workers, activists, even teachers who care. Just as there is the reality of people who seem to get pregnant far too easily, and offload their duties and rights as parents far too easily on the unsuspecting public.
I have friends who argue that it is about a blood tie. Then what of the parents that abandon their children? Or worse, keep them and abuse them? And if you are incapable of loving people not related to you by blood, what of your spouse? Your closest friends? If one can learn to love their spouse – born to someone else, and having met you after you have gotten halfway through your life without having even known them, is it really so implausible to believe it would be far easier to love a child not related to you by blood? If one can learn to love adults, is it really that difficult to love a child?
This leads me to wonder if it is not simply a matter of ego. From where I am standing, it appears that women would rather batter their bodies and put it through treatments that are meant to defy nature, than to bypass the hormonal mess that is pregnancy or related fertility treatments and find a child to love. I have seen marriages disintegrate, families fall apart and conversations become landmines, all over a uterus’s inability to hold on to an embryo.
Motherhood is not for the faint hearted. It is challenging, frustrating, and fulfilling (though this last one I cannot personally vouch for; not yet). To me it just seems infinitely more efficient to bypass pregnancy and adopt a child. From an extremely shallow perspective – no weight gain, no mood swings, no post partum depression. You get straight to the awesome (and really awful) part – that of being a parent that carries the immense responsibility of bringing up a life to enrich the society in its own way. However a child may enter your life that is the one part that is going to be the same, right?