I was reminded today that we often hear women going through infertility say that they feel like less of a woman. I’m pretty sure I’ve said it. I certainly know I felt it, I thought it. And yet, we forget that the grief over infertility, the grief over pregnancy loss, is a very female experience. Waiting every month and feeling the disappointment when we bleed, being forever reminded that our bodies are not performing the way we expect them (as female bodies) to perform, the hormones surging and waning (sometimes natural, sometimes swallowed or inserted or injected), the pain and fear of loss – it is a very real, quite uniquely female experience.* And I've always thought it is just as uniquely female (because our men feel it differently) as giving birth. Don’t ever forget that. To go through this over and over again, and to survive with love and compassion intact, means, I think, we’re all woman.
The best and almost the kindest advice I got when going through my second ectopic pregnancy (or rather the aftermath) was from an internet friend who had also suffered infertility and loss. "Go buy some pretty (or sexy or both) underwear," she instructed. I did. Lace and flowers. It felt frivolous. But I felt more like a woman. So go shopping!
* With a nod to Ben Elton's Maybe Baby movie, where Joely Richardson's character said something along those lines.