In part one of this post, I shared a bit about the “funny business of infertility.” How no one thinks twice about asking when you’re having babies or thinks it odd to advise you on why you should have babies and how many you should have. In fact, this was the topic at a lunch conversation with my colleagues at work this week. I have a physician partner who had someone try and convince her to have a baby…about how great it was. Like she doesn’t know how pregnancy and childbirth works so she needs someone else to convince her to do it? People are crazy.
In that post I also told you to what great lengths it took Pastor Jason and I to become pregnant with our second child. Infertility and recurrent miscarriage affect about 11% of people in this country. Men and women both contribute equally to the problem of fertility, although I never heard anyone ask the pastor when he was going to have more kids. During the long journey to baby number 2 we got lots of “input” from many around us. We were blessed to have many people from our church and our family praying for us to experience the joy of parenthood again. We also had opinions about whether or not we should continue with treatment, adopt, and all sorts of things in between. And I get it. There’s some risk involved. Personal and financial. People have fundraisers for fertility treatment and adoption. Marriages begin and end based on fertility. Adoptions fall through…over and over again. Treatment fails.
Another funny thing about the business of fertility is you don’t know what you would or wouldn’t do until you’re in it. When I got pregnant I was in discussions with my specialist about moving forward with much more intense treatments. I speak with women and their families every week that face decisions about pregnancy and fertility. Some of them are trying to decide if and how they should pursue treatment to become parents. Many of them are deciding whether or not this child will be their last. Others are facing choices like whether to give their baby up for adoption or what to do if their child has a lethal malformation. I believe that most of us think we know “what I would do in such and such situation” but the reality is that you won’t know what path you will choose until you get there.
So we should just mind our own business…right? Well not entirely. In some aspects fertility is everyone’s business. While we are quick to ask when a baby or more babies are coming…we need to understand that the right to plan a family is paramount to the health of our society. Unplanned pregnancies, closely spaced pregnancies, teen pregnancy all have a higher rate of poor outcomes. If you want to talk about fertility then let’s focus on providing effective and affordable and reliable contraception to those who are young, vulnerable and who don’t want to be a parent at the moment. We have spent far too much time talking about what we think will drive down the abortion rate. We have a higher abortion rate in this country than in places where there is no regulation at all. If you want to end abortion let’s drive down the unintended pregnancy rate. Let’s stop filling up the shelters with children waiting for families. Let’s stop asking when Dr. Smith is going to have baby number 3 (seriously) and start thinking about how we are going to educate, love and care for our young women so that they can lead us into a future filled that we will WANT them to bring kids into, a future with hope and peace.
And that, my friends, is the business of fertility.