23 July, 2016

Privilege in the No Kidding world

You can achieve anything series – Part 5

I couldn’t write my previous post about infertility privilege without taking it that step further to look also at my experience as a woman without children. I look at my No Kidding life and think about the barriers I’ve faced that others may not have faced. But I look too at the mountains others have had to climb, but I have not.

So I’m going to note some of the issues that have made my transition to a No Kidding life easier. The first list includes, ironically, the issues that were major barriers in my quest to become a parent.
  • New Zealand has regulated infertility practices. Perhaps the same things that made it hard to conceive – ie donor eggs are very rare, it is illegal to pay for them or for surrogacy, special ethical approvals must be given on a case-by-case basis, IVF drug dosages are regulated – meant that it took some of the decision away from me.
  • Adoption is now rare in New Zealand, so it is easier for me to shoot down the “just adopt” brigade.
  • Geographical distance from the rest of the world – from gestational surrogacy in India, or donor egg cycles in Spain, or multiple IVF cycles elsewhere – means that the difficulty of taking these measures also stops people suggesting them as much, and perhaps reduces the judgement that we didn’t do them.
So some of these factors were barriers when trying to conceive, but are now advantages in adjusting to and living a No Kidding life. There is an additional list of advantages/privilege I enjoy, although I am sure it is far from comprehensive:
  • I’m not part of a religious community that puts emphasis on family
  • My parents never pressured me to give them a grandchild. That was all me. (I wanted to be able to give my father a grandson. He never got one, though for a few brief years he had a great-grandson.)
  • My in-laws never pressured us, beyond the occasional dropped hint.
  • Whilst there is still a very definite glass ceiling in New Zealand, we are not the macho, misogynist society we would have been forty years ago, or the even more extreme examples that we might see elsewhere in the world, where the lot of a childless woman is much more difficult than mine, even deadly.
  • As someone who has been fortunate to have a career, I didn’t 100% feel that my life was worthless when I couldn’t have children.
  • I have been self-employed during the particular period of healing, which has meant I’ve been able to take time to heal and recover, away from the pressure of a full-time workplace.
  • I’m well educated and curious, and so I have had the ability to think and come to terms with my situation, to explore my own thoughts and reactions, and to learn from others.
  • Whilst a good friend, my sister, and niece have all had children in this period, I also have friends without children, or with older children, and so I haven’t constantly been surrounded by babies.
  • My friends who do have children don’t see their worth solely as mothers, and so are able to talk about many other subjects as well.
  • My husband loves to travel. And we can afford to travel. It may not seem relevant, but it makes life easier to be able to look forward to new experiences.
I’m sure there are many other areas where I enjoy privilege in my No Kidding life. Yes, I’m aware this is almost a reverse game of Pain Olympics, in that I can look at others and say, “they have it harder than I do.” But I don’t think it is unhealthy to do that. After all, I’m not denying what is difficult for me. I’m just acknowledging what has been easier. Doing that makes me grateful. And gratitude is never a bad thing.


  1. What great lists. I often bemoan how hard to stop it has got where I am: there is an explosion of use of DE among older women and it's getting more & more common to hear about 50-somethings becoming pregnant. As for the other stuff, this is a great way to evaluate your 'advantages', I do think it's v.healthy & have been compiling lists myself in my head

  2. I love these lists, and the reflection behind them. I don't at all think that it's bad to look at your life and praise all the good things there because of your unique circumstance of who you are and where you live and all the factors therein. I love the gratitude in that. It is interesting how other countries have more limiting factors in extended, 3rd party treatments, but I feel like in a way that would be a freeing factor in retrospect, that there was a defined period of "no more" and less "what ifs" from all those other options, even though it's limiting in other respects. I guess for me in retrospect the third parties didn't work out and delayed my decision to end treatment because of the hope that they offered, but it was expensive hope and cost me not only money but time. Ultimately, with this post I love the gratitude of your second list in particular, and the explanation of the barriers in the first. I just love this series.

  3. I completely agree that gratitude is a good thing. Sometimes when I'm feeling down I take a step back and list the things that I'm grateful for or the things I might not have in my life if I had kids.

  4. I never thought about differently it can be to deal with infertility in a different country. I know in the US, and I think Canada too, motherhood is so so so highly valued. I think in Europe with a lot of people already choosing to not have children and very low birth rates, it must make it easier to deal with.

    I love too knowing the New Zealand regulates fertility treatments. I think that's so wise and important. It makes me nervous when I see so many people going through a seemingly endless number of treatments without knowing what the long term consequences may be. Very wise of the govt to put in some regulation there.

  5. Loving the list, Mali. :-)