Monday, 29 December 2014

Late breeders ... or not at all

In a conversation with a cousin over Christmas, he commented that we’re a bunch of late breeders.* Whilst this was true of him, his brother and my sister, I decided that his comment completely ignored my reality, and added “though some of us weren’t able to at all.” He nodded, though to be honest he’s probably not aware of what I went through, as I haven’t seen him or his brother in about twenty years, and maybe he just thought we chose not to have children.

I realised how much infertility or loss has affected members of my extended family, as not only did my cousin lose his first son (stillborn) a number of years ago, but also his brother couldn’t come to my father’s funeral because, after years of infertility, an adoption had just fallen through. Fortunately his daughter, noticeably not his biological child, is now a happy member of our extended family. And my sister and her husband have a six-year-old daughter, born after her husband tragically lost his 21-year-old son.

On the other side of the family, I have a female cousin who has never married and has no children, and another female cousin who had a miscarriage about the same time I had my first ectopic pregnancy, and she never went on to have children either.

It struck me that our family seems filled with stories of infertility and loss, and made me wish that I saw them more often, when maybe I could be around people who really understand.


* His term, not mine.

http://www.stirrup-queens.com/2014/09/what-is-microblog-mondays/

12 comments:

  1. It's amazing how permeating infertility really is, yet is so infrequently talked about. I'm glad you were able to connect with family members who, through their own experiences, somewhat understand/relate to your own struggles and experiences.

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  2. I have a much older cousin who has no children (married), but you know what? I always thought of them as a normal couple, never lacking anything. I also had an uncle who never married and never had children, but I never thought of him lacking, either. There used to be an aunt who got married very late in life (nearing her 50s), but I never thought of him lacking, either. I think because I was way too young, I had accepted them all as nothing but whole. Funny how lacking I felt as a human being back when I was still TTC and hoping so much to be a mother.

    Anyway, as far as I remember, I never asked them (or my parents) why my cousin had no children or why my uncle never married. And for a long time I thought that my aunt would never marry, though I found out when I was a teenager that she was the type that was active in searching for a spouse and she didn't mind other people trying to arrange dates for her, whereas the uncle was the type that didn't want to be introduced to anyone at all.

    I think in some ways this cousin of mine has actually helped me in dealing with my infertility. If she and her husband, who lived in an era where having children was the norm, can live fulfilling lives without children, then so can I. It's like having a comrade-in-arms, albeit only in spirit. :-)

    P.S. Would really be awesome to meet someday! :-)

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  3. You have a lot of infertility in your family! It's nice to be able to support and have that support in return.

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    1. I have a lot of loss and childlessness in my family, not necessarily infertility I think.

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  4. You would think infertility would travel through families more considering how many causes of infertility are inherited but treatable, such as clotting disorders. Or maybe I'm just assuming it doesn't due to the lack of understanding? That if it were prevalent, there would be more understanding at least within the family?

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  5. Mel's comment struck me, especially as I've been reflecting on my own situation. To my knowledge there are no cases of infertility in my family outside of my uncle's wife who had endometriosis. That said, my family also tends to have children at a much younger age, so I wonder if it's been avoided simply because they all have decided to procreate earlier in life.

    The term "late breeder" is one that makes me wonder if it's society's way of handling infertility. This idea that somehow we can write it off as a choice and not due to a disease. It's it sad to think there's another way to perpetuate the myth that everyone who is not parenting is doing so by choice?

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    1. True. Though to be fair, I think he used it just to refer to the fact that some cousins were grandparents, and yet three of them still had children under the age of 10.

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  6. When I think about it, an awful lot of cousins (first, second & so on) on my mother's side of the family (in both her generation & mine -- male & female) don't have children. I can easily think of a half dozen off the top of my head. Some of them have never married, some are married but have no children -- some no doubt have fertility issues but I'm sure with others it's by choice, or because they married later in life (in their mid/late 40s) & decided they didn't want to take on child-raising at this point. At any rate, realizing this makes me feel somewhat less alone.

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  7. This is such an interesting post, and it was so poignant to me that you said "and some of us were not able at all" and it was so beautifully honest and so missed. There is infertility in my family, as well -- a cousin who had something like 7 miscarriages on her quest to a second child (who is now 18 months and her first just turned 10), a cousin with PCOS, a cousin who got pregnant in high school but never had a second. I don't know the ins and outs of all their stories, but I'm the only one who so far has not been able to have a child at all. It's lonely. You would think it would be less lonely having others in similar boats in the family, but we're so rarely all together (like you said), and our boats just aren't quite the same.

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  8. It would be interesting to explore these possible connections, as well as to discover what differences might be there. But, it's also interesting, and sad, that because infertility issues are so swept under the carpet, it's hard to know what's going on with people in the first place.

    And here's to making space in conversation for the "some of us that weren't able to at all"! Nice job at muscling your way in there:-)

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  9. The solidarity in loss is such a double-edged sword because, while you (like me) probably wouldn't wish it on any of them, it's nice not to be alone...in many ways a lot more comfortable than being the childless island in a storm of baby showers, as some women face. And there's always some regret in time lost, but I bet there's still opportunity to breathe life into some of those connections.

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  10. It is nice to find others who understand your loss; it is definitely bonding. I have friends I've grown apart from and when I find out they struggle with infertility, I instantly feel reconnected. It is so hard to keep all the connections we have in life going though, but I totally get your desire to have bonded more with your family in this area.

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