16 September, 2014

Gifts of Infertility Series - #11 – Understanding Why

The following is a repost from February 2011. You’ll find the original post and comments here.
"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?" 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 always 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 could be. 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 downright evil live till they are very old. None of this is right or can be justified. 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 knowledge frees me from the guilt. 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 people too, regardless of their situation.
I just hope others can get here too."

Three years later,  I still feel like this. I like being in this place. It helps me understand, not just infertility, but the rest of the world too. It brings me peace.  And that is a true gift.


  1. Oh my, thank you for reposting this (and for writing it in the first place). It makes me feel better to read these words. Even though I know I'm not to blame for my body's inability to conceive and carry a child, it has taken me a long time to forgive my body. It's taken me a long time not to take "oh it must be God's will" (or the equivalent comment) personally. I silently screamed "No, it's not God's effing will - endo is a disease you dimwits!" for years - now I don't have silent screams anymore.

    Feels good to come to a place of resolve - but for me, it's definitely something I need to nurture and work on.

    I love this Mali - "It means I can love myself and have compassion for myself when I feel sad. It means I can have compassion for other people too, regardless of their situation."

    Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Northern Star said it best. All of it.

    I still struggle with the "whys" on a daily basis, even though I'm on the other side. Though I logically understand that infertility was never a reflection on who I am, the trauma of the experience definitely hit me at my core.

    Maybe the "why" in all of this is not because one is destined to live through infertility. The "why" comes out in the fact we all will have hardships in life. It's just a matter of how you chose to tackle them and grow from them.

    Thank you for the ongoing reflections

  3. Thank you for the post.

    Yes, peace, a true gift indeed.

    (One of the remarks that made me angry - and I am still angry when I think about - came from a good ex coworker. She said that Mother Nature knows best and that there is a good reason that I can't have a child. I know that a coworker only tried to help me. But how come that people don't realize that sometimes is the best just to quiet and not to say anything?)

    1. That makes me angry too Kiara. As if. So many obvious reasons that this is just wrong.

    2. dear Northern Star (btw: I love your nick name), thank you.

  4. I am loving this series of postings!!
    You are wonderful

  5. Oh wow. I've often wondered why this happened to me, even though I logically know that there is no reason. I hope that someday I'll get to the point where you are. I'm going to commit that Gertrude Stein quote to my memory.

  6. Great quote from Gertrude Stein! It does sum it up so well. I have so many friends with kids tell me how they admire me for starting my own business, moving across the country as I feel like it, etc. It is a good reminder that our lives all have their highlights and lowlights. Life is just a mixed bag.. and there is definitely no why. It is a hard lesson. took me forever it seems.. I always went down the second guessing rabbit hole (what I had done this? what if I hadn't done this?) etc. But, in the end you have to let it go and accept. It's the only way to peace.