A fellow blogger, Gee, recently wrote a fantastic post that I wanted to expand on. The second to last paragraph touched on a persistent thought that I've had since our diagnosis.
On sleepless nights I worry about this, that my overwhelming desire to be a parent is not because I think I would be a good one but because I'm looking to fill some inner deficiency. That pursuing extraordinary measures to conceive is the height of selfish, adolescent self-centeredness. That I'm just jealous and obsessed and petty and everything an adult shouldn't be.Or, the way I think about it: Do I want to be a parent simply because everyone else is? Is my desire to have a child selfish?
I'll be honest, there are many days, especially as the end of this month nears, that I have my doubts. We're filled with this image of Mother from the time we are little. This person gives of herself daily, putting herself second to meet the needs of her children. Everything she does, every thought, every action is all meant to protect her children, allowing them to prosper. In short, a Mother is a selfless person. And as I struggle with infertility, I feel that my actions are more self-serving. I've doubted that I really want children, that my pursuit of treatment is simply to fulfill a selfish desire. And that through my actions, I am unworthy of having someone call me "Mom."
But in my calmer moments, I reflect on the fact that most fertile women probably never ask themselves these questions. Or if they do, usually it's after their toddler has hit the terrible twos. And when I actually watch most mothers, it becomes obvious that they are not entirely self-less; that their relationships with their children is fulfilling a need to love and be loved. Sure, they make sacrifices, but their are also many rewards. Despite what we are lead to believe, motherhood is not an altruistic act; it is both selfless and selfish. And that's the way it should be.
The cruelty of infertility is that it robs us of the chance to love. Suddenly, something that is so pure and simple is gone and we begin a journey filled with uncertainty. Some of us will be lucky to resolve our infertility through pregnancy (either through treatment or not), others will come to a cross-roads where they will need to pursue adoption or decide to live child-free. But one thing is certain, to make this journey, to make these decisions, requires that we be selfish and self-less.
A purely selfish person wouldn't spend thousands of dollars on fertility treatments.
A purely selfish person wouldn't subject themselves to cycle after cycle of drugs that alter your body physically and emotionally.
A purely selfish person wouldn't muster the courage to congratulate a friend/coworker/family member following a pregnancy announcement, and then cry quietly in private later.
A purely selfish person wouldn't spend hours filling out paper work for an adoption agency nor subject themselves to the months of waiting and uncertainty.
A purely selfish person wouldn't even consider parenthood. It's not on their radar.
(BTW: I've met couples who made the decision early on that they did not want children. I don't put them into the same category as a selfish person because children were on their radar. There is a difference)
Everything is do in life has some element of self-interest. We rely on our environment to produce the food eat, provide the water we drink. We require shelter to protect us found the elements and clothing to protect our bodies. And we also require love. Without love, life is hollow.
My main point of this rant is that I think anyone who has walked for a little while on this path has reflected on whether they are pursuing parenthood for selfish reasons. Ultimately, in my opinion, it's that reflection will make/has made them better parents. We have to work harder than most to build our families.