The more I reach out here, the more stories I read, the more experiences I compare to my own, the more I realize that we, as people dealing with infertility, going through treatments, suffering loss after loss, are not only battling infertility itself. We are battling the ignorance and hurtful assumptions that exist in the outside world about what it is we endure on a daily basis.
How can I explain this to someone who hasn’t experienced it? The seven out of eight couples who don’t think twice about making babies, who do it by accident, who
don’t can’t appreciate what it feels like when it doesn’t happen so easily. To those who say we’re buying our children or implore us to “just” adopt. Mel used the analogy of a person with poor vision making the decision to spend money on glasses or surgery, rather than employing a sight dog. She admitted it’s not a perfect analogy, but when trying to explain why we would subject ourselves to the torture of fertility treatments, why we would spend so much money with no guarantee treatments will be successful, to someone who doesn’t understand, I think it works.
I have another (imperfect) analogy. In my former life, I taught children who were deaf or hard of hearing. Many of these children used cochlear implants to detect and interpret sounds. It required surgery and an expensive implantable device. The surgery and use of the device were controversial in some circles.
Why not just teach your child to sign? There is a whole culture of Deaf Americans who would accept your child as she is.
But these parents were not part of the Deaf culture, and teaching their child to communicate exclusively through sign language would require extended family members and friends to learn the language as well. It would require their child to have an interpreter at doctors visits, in the classroom, and when ordering at a restaurant. This was not the life these families envisioned for their child.
Having a child who was deaf was not something they chose; it was something that had happened to their child. They grieved. But they could still choose to give their child every opportunity at the life they wanted by electing to spend the money (or, in many cases, have their insurance pay) and go through the ordeal and risks of surgery, followed by years of therapy and specialized instruction. For the parents I knew, it was worth the risks and the money to have their child tell them “I love you,” to hear about their child’s day, for their child to hear a warning, laughter, or music. Something as simple as a child turning his head when his name was called could bring tears to a parent’s eyes.
All I want–all anyone who is willing to suffer the expense and pain of fertility treatments, even knowing they may not work–all we want is that same chance at the life we imagined for ourselves, the lives our parents probably dreamed for us, just as parents of a child who is deaf dream for her to listen and speak. As long as the technology exists, as long as there are professionals willing to help us achieve that dream, what right does anyone else have to take it away from us?