I’d like to discuss something today that I think is often kept a bit in the shadows for most women. It’s not something that is comfortable to talk about out in the open – however, it is a massive discussion for anonymous forums on the internet.
So, one of the major points I faced in my late 20’s, after I got married – was this fear of “what if I’m not able to get pregnant even when I want to have kids…”. It wasn’t a super pronounced fear, because I wasn’t actively trying to get pregnant, but it was sort of at the back of my mind as I got older and older. Although this fear was completely irrational – in the sense that I had no indicators or reasons to believe that I would be unable to have children – it still felt as though it was a logical concern to have at the time.
I realized though that I had allowed myself to build up this fear even further – because each month, I would experience certain “symptoms” just before my period that made me think it was possible that I was pregnant. I had a sort of “ritual” during this time where I would go online and read other women’s “trying to conceive” stories, reading their symptoms to try to see what was going on with me. Surprisingly, I actually learned a lot about the struggles of other women and their relationship/perception of pregnancy and being able to get pregnant from reading through these forums.
I realized that for many women, myself included, the ability to become pregnant was a sort of validation our physical selves – as though fertility was a boost for our self-worth – and that being unable to get pregnant came with a belief that something inside us is a bit broken. I KNOW that this sounds stereotypical/hysterical/blah blah, and that the standard feminist perspective (one that I grew up with) would just scream in horror at this whole point — but this is the reality and the fear for many women deep down (even many self-proclaimed feminists) – and I realized that I was no different than any other woman, in that I was facing the same point that many are.
See – facing the reality of having/holding onto a fear is essential – it is never good to hide it or try to pretend it’s not there. The reality here is that – there is a “program” that tells us in our society, that becoming pregnant and having a child is a part of being a woman — so “logic” would infer that being infertile or having difficulty conceiving would call into question our true nature as a woman.
This is the program that I was facing, that a lot women are facing, and there is little support for women to know “how” to face it so that it doesn’t become a destructive self-belief and pattern. So, whether we are trying to have a baby or not, many of us keep coming back each month to the TTC forums, hunting for our symptoms, driving ourselves a bit crazy for a few days/weeks, only to find out that we’re not actually pregnant – just to repeat this the following month.
I did this for years – and I was not even in a place where I felt ready to have a baby, nor was I actively trying to conceive. What I noticed though, was that in those months where I had the “symptoms” of being pregnant and it turned out that I wasn’t – the inner chatter and inner belief of “maybe I’m barren” or “maybe I will never be able to have children” became stronger and stronger. And a consequence that I experienced from participating in this belief was a sort of mild depression or feigned apathy towards the whole notion of becoming pregnant and having children.
This is not a constructive way of living! So I made a decision to really sit down and face this construct of being a woman and the issues of fertility – not only from my own perspective, but from the perspective of the thousands of women whose stories I had read online. I placed myself in the worst case scenario in my mind – of being completely unable to ever have children, and looked at what judgments and beliefs I had of myself if that were to occur – and forgave myself for accepting those judgments and beliefs. It was a really fascinating journey to walk through – because by facing this point head on – I stopped the worrying cycle of whether or not I could have children in my lifetime.
It was no longer apathy – it was a letting go of worry and stress – and it felt great! I was just here with myself, and it gave me the space and time to begin enjoying and expanding what it is like being a woman without the stereotypes. I did know that I would still enjoy having children, but it was not something that I NEEDED in order to feel “complete”.
I can’t say whether this is related or not – but a few months after I did this – I became pregnant (and I was finally ready to be pregnant). And this act of facing my fear has massively supported me during my pregnancy so far, because when other fears come up, I know that I can face them and that I’ll be better off and more stable and prepared when I do.