Now that Aurelia's credited this series of posts with discussing the meaning of life, I feel bad moving on to some quite obvious conclusions.

Throughout history, there have been those who trade years of their lives for art. They have lived at the margin of their health, rather than follow some easier, but less satisfying road. Others have traded their lives for sport, for human knowledge, or for a cause they believe in. It shouldn't be difficult to accept that some would trade their lives for the opportunity to parent. In a way, we all trade our lives for something.

People gave all sorts of reasons for their answers to the genie's dilemma, and I do believe those reasons are sincere - after all, more so than any other medical condition, infertility affects the whole family. It's overly simplistic to do what I'm about to do for the rest of this post, which is to focus on just one aspect of the decision-making process.

Nevertheless, those who are most in the thick of the anxious phase of their treatment were willing to give up more to have it work out. Perhaps their answers wouldn't change on a break between cycles. Perhaps, when contrasting their answers with Pamela's, I cheated a bit by using Pamela's thoughts from this post rather than the answer she actually gave here. But don't we always say, when someone in our blogosphere is suffering a terrible blow, that it's best not to make any rash decisions in the heat of emotion? That it's best to wait and see if that initial reaction still makes sense over the weeks, months, and sometimes even years to come? I feel our genie has illustrated the prudence of that suggestion.

The second thing I want to say is about the value we place on ourselves as individuals, and how the way in which we make this valuation affects our ability to find closure with infertility. I know if I was asked directly whether a woman's value lay in being a mother or having a functioning reproductive system**, I would deny it emphatically. A woman's value lies in the life she chooses for herself, and there are many wonderful paths available for the choosing. I believe that, and I don't value other women according to parity. But when that genie appeared a few posts ago, it revealed a lie in my words, because the fact I'm willing to trade some of my life for an ability to parent or reproduce shows exactly how much of my own valuation of myself is tied up in these roles.

It's not just women, of course. Mr Bea blokily refused to be pinned down. He doesn't want to admit that he values his nurturing side, but he wouldn't answer, "None at all." In my eyes, a person's value does not lie in their ability to parent or reproduce, but a person's valuation of themselves may heavily depend upon it.

There are only two roads out of the desert of infertility and into the promised land beyond - you can either complete your family to the extent you desire, or you can learn to value yourself fully with what you've got. Many of us stop interventions before reaching either of those goals, but until you're ready to answer the genie with, "No deal - every one of those years is worth the same to me, whether I have (more) kids or not!" you haven't truly arrived at the end of your journey. You're still wandering, lost amongst the sand dunes, in search of a home.

We have our Big Scan scan today. I want to catch a glimpse of Canaan.

*Is "biblical" the right word? It seems very Christianity-centric, and I can't exactly claim The Promised Land as Christian-specific, now can I?

**I don't have to explain the subtle difference between these two things.

Update: scan went well. More tomorrow.


Geohde said...

Good luck at your Big Scan,



Jess said...

I hope all is well with your scan! :)

I agree that a woman should not be valued according to her ability to parent/reproduce (or a man, either) BUT...on the flip side, if you are to say that there are many ways a woman can choose to make her life spectacular and meaningful...then motherhood might BE one that she chooses. And I think that what makes some of us so willing to say that we'd sacrifice whatever we'd sacrifice to obtain the goal of parenthood.

All my life what I really wanted was to be a mother. Get married, have a house, stay at home, have some kids. Sure, maybe I'd be an optometrist, a vet, whatever...but that would be if I had to have a JOB. What I wanted was a LIFE.

And when it didn't happen, I was willing to sacrifice. Years of my life weren't in question, but money was. Comfort. Flexibility. All that was taken away as we dove farther and farther into treatment. And there aren't regrets here. Because those things are not life. Family is life. To me.

And even if we'd never become pregnant, even if we'd solely adopted all our children instead, there would still be no regrets because we'd have tried. We'd have closed those doors and KNOWN. Obviously we wanted to adopt, in the end, as well, since I KNEW I was pregnant before Ava was born...but I also wanted to experience motherhood in the other way, too.

That, to me, was worth the money. The appointments, the shots, the surgeries. Trying and knowing.

It's interesting to realize what means most to you, as a woman. I think that IF shows a lot of us what is really important and what isn't. Individually, because we all DO draw lines somewhere. Because we have to.

But anyhow, I hope things go splendidly and you see that promised land. Better yet, in the end, I hope you're standing there on the other side with a huge smile.

Anonymous said...

I hope that the Big Scan goes well.

I hope we all reach the promised land. In some way or another.

Vee said...

I agree that your answers would vary depending on where you are at, either in a cycle or pregnancy or beyond that.
It's been an interesting read Bea.

I hope all went well today.

Karaoke Diva said...

So glad to hear the scan went well!!!

Samantha said...

I remember in a class being given a hypothetical scenario of being on a sinking boat where there were more people than life rafts. Each person had a different background, and a different set of survival skills. One was experienced at sea, one was a distinguished scientist, one was a mother of three kids, one was physically unable to swim, one was old, one was a child, etc. We were supposed to figure out who got spaces on the lift rafts. I disliked the assignment, because it meant placing on value on others' lives (and through extension, my life, as would I be worth saving in such a situation?) I think I'm like Mr. Bea.

I'm glad the scan went well!

Stephanie said...

wow, this question you have posed has turned into a very deep thought provoking series of post. Thanks for digging deeper and causing us all to think it through.

The Town Criers said...

I'm glad the scan went well. I can't wait to hear more about it.

I think the other thing that this has raised for me is that I react differently to living life to its fullest--even if choices I make could shave years off my life--vs. flat out signing away a certain amount of time.

Lut C. said...

You're talking way over my head!

I'm glad the scan went well.

Aurelia said...

Yeah for good scan!!!

I want to read all about it. I am still trying to write something that doesn't ramble on like I'm a bonehead. But I am doing it.

Beagle said...

It's too deep for me too! ;-)

I was going to say that five years was my limit, but there are two problems with that a) it was only "that short" (not sure if five years IS short) in part because I started behind the age eight ball and b) my five years are almost up and now I will be tested with the "what now?" of setting a limit in the first place.

Glad your scan went well!

Jess said...

Grats on the good scan! Can't wait to hear more!

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