Guest Posting: The Preg Beg..
Should I Be Asked To Fund Your Fertility?
I feel like as women there are some things we still don’t get to question.
Like other women’s fertility choices.
I’ll preface this by saying I never felt that if I weren’t a mother I would be less of a woman, or even that there would be something missing from my life. On the contrary, in my early 20s I joked to my closest friends that if I had children, I’d kill them and eat them.
I remember the point at which my then-boyfriend faced me in my college apartment kitchen, telling me he felt like our relationship was getting serious and he thought it was important I know he wanted a family. A mash of swear words and panic swirled through my brain; I did not want to lose him over this. “Fine,” I negotiated. “Two. We could have two kids.” Many years and two children later, as he argued for a third, I held fast.
My children, a boy and girl of 21 and nearly 20, were and are a delight. I could not be happier to have them in my life. I raised them to be interesting people I’d respect and want to hang out with, but I still have to whip out the parent hat periodically to keep them on the right road, and I’m cool with that.
If I’d never gone down this path? Honestly, I’d be cool with that, too.
It’s not a popular viewpoint. I’ve heard the whole “childless” vs. “child-free” debate. To each her own, I say. Feminism was supposed to let us choose our own way, right? I find that is more often true in theory than in practice.
So I paused when I saw a longtime friend’s Facebook request. I have known her since she was a teenager, belching loudly as her family muttered, mostly in jest, that that was no way to find a decent man. Well, she found a very good one, and they want a baby. Desperately. So desperately, in fact, that when other efforts failed and they turned to in vitro fertilization only to learn the costs had gone up a few thousand dollars since their earlier inquiry, they turned to Facebook and a donation site appeal to make up the difference from what they had saved.
I hadn’t heard about their fertility struggles, but I felt for her as she asked for people to read about their journey. They would be grateful for donations, she said, but also expressions of encouragement and love.
That was April 8. An earlier hint had come on April Fool’s Day, with her pronouncement that all the fake “I’m pregnant” posts made the writers not only unoriginal but outright jerks.
I saw the hurt in the anger. I was quiet.
Related: Tales From A Twin Mom: 4 Things You Should Never Say To A Couple Struggling With Infertility
Then came the solicitation. Again I remained silent. Certainly I wished them all the best. But to endorse … this? I don’t even have a polite way to describe this request. It’s a matter for family and the very closest friends, I felt, but she and her parents are important to me and I had no wish to offend them.
Two weeks later came word of success, as the remaining money they needed came in and she happily announced she had just ordered all of her IVF medications. I was the first to chime in and said, “Congrats! Hope this is the one!” And I truly mean it.
Still, I am bothered, and I can’t put a finger on why.
Because she asked other people to fund her no-guarantee-of-success try at pregnancy? We were free to ignore it.
Because I didn’t chip in? I have two biological children of college age, and a live-in “bonus child” of 22 and an unworkable family situation. I do not have funds to spare.
Because she wants a baby so badly? So what? She has a happy marriage and burgeoning business. And I know she’ll be a great mom if she has the opportunity, with wonderful grandparents to boot.
Without procreation, humankind dies out. Heck, I’m a sci-fi and dystopia fan, so I read conjecture about this regularly.
But in my face, and potentially in my wallet? The World Wide Web and social media have raced past my sense of etiquette. I love her, I wish her success, but we are not close enough that I would have bought her a small Christmas present, let alone … part of a baby? Yet saying “Hey, hope it works out” feels shallow and insufficient, and I don’t know that buying a charming crib mobile will make up the difference.
Mostly though, I can’t get over this nagging sensation that I am not even supposed to ask these questions. Does this mean the 1970s feminist movement did its job? Or that we still have a long way to go, baby?
Beth Bellor is a freelance editor living in Michigan.