“From the hallway you can hear murmurs of people comparing notes. Someone says they’re due in a few months, whilst another proudly shows off her newborn son. You build up your courage and walk in quietly, shuffling your way into the corner, hopefully out of sight.”
You’ve been here before. Married for more than three years now and you still don’t have anything to ‘show for it’…
Unfortunately, too often in Asian culture, a woman is judged by her ability to procreate. Somehow choosing to not have children, or having the inability to do so naturally makes you a failure.
You know it’s bad when you’d rather not attend weddings, parties or even dinners because you just can’t be bothered to explain yourself. You isolate yourself and miss out because you’d rather not entertain any type of conversation about what you choose to do with your body.
The gall of some people is simply shocking, and the sense of entitlement over your life decisions and experiences is just weird. Why people, family or not, feel that you owe them an explanation as to why you haven’t got a string of children is toxic.
The taboo and stigma around infertility is real, and it’s a wonder why in 2018, we are still making up excuses and feel uncomfortable telling people that it’s just not their business.
Of course, Asian culture dictates respect for elders, but that doesn’t give them a free pass to interrogate you about personal matters that do not concern them.
Then there’s the issue of ‘shame’. If you can’t reproduce naturally or have suffered a miscarriage, you are often told to “not tell anyone” as it “doesn’t look good”. As if going through the terrible, heartwrenching and distressing reality of infertility isn’t enough, you have to hide your pain, make up some excuse and somehow be ashamed of it?
No one chooses to go through this, its something that has been thrust upon us, and each and every individual going through it deals with it in their own way. The pressure that exists (not just in Asian culture) is something that just needs to stop.
When you do finally get pregnant you feel compelled to keep your journey to yourself. Hiding your little miracle, making it look effortless despite the 100s of injections, months of medication or world tipping lifestyle changes.
Let me tell you…
You are inadvertently continuing the cycle for another girl who will walk into that same function room and shuffle her self into that same corner embarrassed. All because she doesn’t know that you went through the same thing she’s going through now.
We are self-damaging.
There is so much ignorance, confusion and misunderstanding around reproducing, and here are just a few very common misconceptions:
There’s something wrong with you
The old ‘InshaAllah (god willing) it will happen soon” is a common one. I’m sorry but who are you to assume that I’ve even been trying. I appreciate your prayers, but please, just don’t.
You’re too career driven
You don’t want kids
And? That’s a bad thing why?
It’s worth noting that some people are just generally interested and curious, and perhaps are just trying to make chit-chat.
It’s so important that we have these conversations and educate our community on the reality of infertility. We should perhaps make the obvious clear, that being choosing to procreate is a very personal matter, and in all fairness shouldn’t be up for open discussion.
Remember that whether you choose to have kids or not. You are struggling with infertility, suffered a loss, or are just not ready..
Your own worth always trumps your ability to procreate. Hands down.