First, there’s the sheer incomprehensibility that one’s birthright to reproduce might be compromised — who wants to contemplate that? And second, it’s easier to marginalize or dismiss the condition because to truly understand it and its implications is, in a word, devastating.
That’s why I get rather worked up when I read thoughts such as this sentence from a book review in the Feb 12 issue of People. [Note: Book reviewer Judith Newman impatiently observes there’s yet another book written by a woman who has lived through infertility treatments. Happily for the author, she succeeded in conceiving and delivering]:
“Just when you think there is no more to say about the comedy and tragedy of infertility, Peggy Orenstein comes along and changes your mind.”
Clearly Judith thinks there’s a limit to how much the public can or should be expected to consume on this perceived tiresome subject. The mind boggles. Would she say the same about love stories? family dramas? ambitious dreamers? At last count from the Centers for Disease Control in 2002 there were 7.3 million U.S. couples diagnosed with infertility, and that doesn’t include those who haven’t yet been diagnosed…
And, comedy? This is not a cosmetic or lighthearted topic we’re talking about. Is finding out that you can’t reproduce funny? What am I missing? There is very often no cure. There are absurd, surreal moments (like no sexual relations while you’re in the midst of IVF) but I’d hardly call that a belly laugh.
To signal that there should be an end to what can be written or discussed about this subject is insensitivity at its worst. We’re talking about a catastrophic diagnosis. Judith and many like her, I hope, never have to live it but I warrant if they did, they wouldn’t dismiss it so easily.