I was just watching Bloodletting and miraculous cures on HBO. It is a show about doctors, written by a Canadian ER physician, Vincent Lam. One of the characters, Ming, is having fertility troubles, because of Rh incompatibility with her husband (she gets pregnant, miscarries, is Rh negative, and gets sensitized). She tells a story about being abused by her uncle at the age of 13, and, thinking that she has invited the abuse, she ends it with "I don't deserve to have a baby."
Whoa! is that the most novel thing I have heard today.
At some stage in the infertility game, a woman will conclude that she is not meant to be a mother because of past sins, past deeds, past mistakes. She will convince herself that she has brought THIS on to herself (THIS being any number of things, infertility, stillbirth, miscarriage, a child with disabilities, a neonatal death). It usually happens fairly early in the game, being, as it is, such a natural conclusion. It happened, therefore it must be something I did (or didn't do).
Sometimes, if the idea is slow to come to us all by itself, it will be propelled by the voices of well meaning friends and family. Watch out, it usually comes as advice, wrapped in layers of concern and caring. For instance, when I lost Adrian, I was told by several people that I should not have exercised during my pregnancy. I had started exercising at 12 weeks (prior to 12 weeks, the IVF clinic does not condone activity other than yoga and walking), with my physician's blessing. I was, as far as anyone can tell, a previously fit woman with a low risk pregnancy, and I wanted to continue doing what I had been doing for the past 15 years of my life three times a week. My exercise routine kept me sane and kept the terrible nausea at bay. I lost my mucus plug after a day in which I had exercised. Of course, the phrase that I have heard the most in the first couple of weeks after it happened was: you shouldn't have exercised. Other pregnant women don't exercise. This happened because you exercised. Next time, don't exercise. (Next time I will be on bedrest, so that is a moot point). Nevertheless, even knowing that it was not my fault, I still hung on to the guilt for so long, that I have yet to set foot in the gym again. I prefer to exercise in the privacy of my house, lest someone observe and offer more helpful advice. And I am not even pregnant!
But why does it have to be our fault? What have we got to lose by letting go of this assumption? Why do others jump so fast to the conclusion that we have brought disaster and loss onto ourselves?
I think it comes from the childish belief that the world is fair, that we get what we deserve. Unfortunately, my friends, that stopped being true just about when Adam and Eve got expelled from Paradise (yep, they supposedly did deserve it, but what did we do wrong?).
THE WORLD IS NOT FAIR.
YOU WILL OFTEN (ALMOST ALWAYS?) NOT GET WHAT YOU DESERVE.
YOU WILL, HOWEVER, GET WHAT YOU DON'T DESERVE.
THINGS OUT OF YOUR CONTROL WILL HAPPEN ALL THE TIME.
BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE.
GOOD THINGS HAPPEN TO BAD PEOPLE.
Yes, that is the truth. Now that it's out, let's go for coffee.
PS. If this post hits home, remember that you deserve to have a child just by virtue of being here, of being human. You don't have to do anything special to become worthy of being a parent. You already did. You were born.