15 February, 2011


Why?  Why me?  What did I do to deserve this?  Isn't there an answer?  Why don't the doctors know?  How could this happen?  I don't believe this is happening to me?  All these questions I have asked.  All these questions I know other women have asked, and continue to ask, today they ask "Why?"  Tomorrow they will ask "Why me?"  And they wonder if it was their fault.  They wonder if they did something to deserve this.  They just want to know why.  And my heart goes out to them. 

Years ago, a friend quoted Gertrude Stein to me.  “There is no answer.  There will never be an answer.  That is the answer.”  In a strange way, this has been a real comfort to me.  Knowing that there is no "why."  It just happens.

I look at women who have children easily, who don't have losses, who have never lost their innocence in pregnancy.  They have not been judged to be worthy, just as I have not been judged to be unworthy.  I look at women who get pregnant when they don't want to.  Why does this happen?  Well, just because it does.  It doesn't mean that they are better than me.  It doesn't mean they are luckier than me.  They don't feel luckier.  Those who struggle to cope physically, or financially, or emotionally, with a(nother) baby don't see the baby as a gift, even if that is how we would see one.  I look at women with children who neglect them, abuse them, or abandon them, who expose them to violent or abusive partners, who pay more attention to their own needs than those of their child.  Clearly, the biological act of having a baby is not evidence of their good character, or their good behaviour.  These women are no better than me.  A baby is not a reward for good behaviour, however much we might wish it is.  Not having a baby is not a punishment, however much it might feel like that.

It can take a while to reach acceptance of this.  Women are very good at blaming ourselves.  We search for answers.  We expect answers.  These days, when so much can be cured, solved, calculated or discovered, we can't understand why some of us can have babies and some of us can't.  We get angry, and often - because there is no-one else we can blame - we blame ourselves.  Pointlessly.  Painfully.  Sometimes destructively.

I've lived and travelled around the world.  I have seen wonderful people in difficult circumstances.  I have seen awful people with family they don't value, with riches they don't appreciate or do anything good with.  I have seen beloved, kind, good friends die young, I've seen those who have been tortured, and I've seen the selfish and evil live till they are very old.  None of this is justified or right.  None of this happens for a reason.  None of this is because you were judged to be deserving or not.  None of this is because they were or were not being rewarded.  It just is.

For me, understanding that there is no justice in the world is as much understanding as I can ever expect to have.  There is no reason why.  And that frees me from the guilt.  It means that I can find peace.  It means that I don't question myself every time I hear of a case of child abuse or neglect, or unwanted pregnancy.  It means I can love myself and have compassion for myself when I feel sad.  It means I can have compassion for other women too, regardless of their situation.  I like being in this place.

I just hope that others can get here too. 


  1. Wow. Just wow.

    I came to this same conclusion in the last year or so as well, but much more bitterness and anger at the unfairness than you. I am coming to terms with the real answer is that there is no answer to "Why?" Not just about my personal experience, but at all the injustices in the world.

    Very powerful and thought-provoking post. Thank you for writing it.

  2. I'm working on my own bit of why right now, with my brother and his family and their stillbirth/miscarriage. I keep asking "what the hell is this supposed to mean?" But sometimes things just are. Maybe later they'll come to some conclusion but I don't think so.

    This is a good blog. It's a good reminder to me to tread lightly. I do very much try to--but I know I am not always successful.

  3. This is so well stated and very helpful to bring in examples beyond fertility in terms of thinking about ANYTHING. "None of this happens for a reason." Believe it or not, just recently Tim and I were discussing how much we've been disliking people's need to say/believe "Everything happens for a reason." That may comfort some people, but truly, it seems more comforting to me that there is no reason. Thanks for stating that so eloquently.

  4. So well said, and I agree with Indigo that "there is no answer" applies to so much in our lives. But we are human, and it's instinctive to keep on looking.

  5. I am glad you are sharing your considerable wisdom with a wider audience my friend. There is so much you can teach. love Olivia

  6. what a wonderful post. so much of it I understand and agree with. Blame is a huge part of IF and if we could take it away, it would make the journey a lot easier. Then that pesky 'why', that one I am not sure will ever go away for me...

  7. Thank you. I needed to hear this. I've been working on this in my head, but you type it out so eloquently.

  8. Nicely stated Mali. Like Indigo, I really dislike the "everything happens for a reason" argument.

  9. There is no reason, at least, not one that would be good enough in my books. I've often said that if there is a God, we're going to have a nice long chat when we finally meet. : )

  10. Thank you.
    I just found you and you are just who I was looking for.
    It's hard to see the sky when you're in the trenches, up to your waist in IF and IVF and where next. Having someone remind me that there is life, glorious, happy, exciting life waiting for me on the other side of this is wonderful.
    Thank you.