Ivan Zamorano

Acupunture Treatment

Infertility Tales: The Psychotherapist/Moderator (Episode 3)

Infertility Tales: The Psychotherapist/Moderator (Episode 3)


Welcome, everyone. Thank you for coming. As a therapist, I’ve heard many stories of
infertility from women, men, and couples. This is my story: You’ve got to see Jesse. Go see Jesse. I was having lunch with my mother and her
best friend, Flora. Jesse was Flora’s son and a reproductive endocrinologist. I was 39 and had only just started trying
to get pregnant, after being married a year. “You’re old. Your eggs are old,” Flora kept saying. So off I went to see Jesse. I wasn’t really concerned. I figured I’d get a workup, and if anything
was wrong, we’d fix it quickly and easily. “It’s nice to see you,” I said, as I lay on
the examining table, my feet in stirrups, and my gown open. “I haven’t seen you since your bar mitzvah”
-trying to reconcile that image with the man now examining my breasts. After the exam and blood work, my husband
and I sat with Jesse in his office. He was very kind and very frank. “Your chances decrease a great deal after
35. I’ll call you with your test results.” Jay and I left. “How are you doing?” my husband asked in his
lovely inquiring way. “I’m fine. Really. I’m not worried at all. I feel great. I’m fit, healthy, I have never really even
been sick. And,” I thought smugly, “I even do triathlons.” A few days later, I was in my office returning
Jesse’s call. “I have your blood results,” he said, “Your
FSH is 22.” “I’m sorry,” I said, “I have no idea what
that means.” “It means that you have a one in a million
chance in having a biological child,” he replied. So that is how I learned I was infertile. And despite my ambivalence about having children,
I was surprisingly devastated. Without quite realizing it, I had begun to
imagine myself as a mother. And how can I not? I had been bombarded by messages since birth
that I was to be a mother. Be fruitful and multiply, we hear over and
over. Then we get to school, and it’s first comes
love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage. I was first wished a Happy Mother’s Day when
I was 12 years old because one day I would be a mother. The desire for a child of my own felt deep
rooted and entrenched in my being. Adding to this is our media. Our media focuses relentlessly on celebrities
and their glamorization of pregnancy and motherhood. There’s a very long history of this. But the most recent trend began in 1991 when
Demi Moore posed nude and pregnant on the cover of Vanity Fair. More recently, we have Brad and Angelina and
Jennifer Lopez’s years long quest for parenthood. And most recently, we have Beyonce, and Kim,
and Kourtney, and Halle, and Fergie, and Kate Middleton. And I can go on and on. But the message is clear. Pregnancy and motherhood is normal, and expected,
and fabulous. But now I could not do what everyone else
could. Something so fundamental, so biological, and
the desire is so innate I hardly understood it myself. If emotional trauma is an assault to the brain,
my brain felt pummeled. So reproductive trauma is very difficult to
understand. There’s no concrete loss, there’s no live
person, or a child, that has died. And the losses are quite hidden. There’s the loss of the planned and hoped
for future with children. There’s the loss of creating something with
your partner. There’s the loss of the symbolic crossing
into adulthood. There’s a loss of parenting, and then grandparenting. And for women especially, there’s an enormous
social loss. Women bond with each other by talking about
the details of their lives. This starts very young. We start when we’re kids. We talk about our crushes. As we get older, we talk about our dates. Our good ones, our not so good ones. Then we talk about our relationships. How we met, how we fell in love, how we ultimately
committed. Then we talk about our pregnancies and our
children. Straight or gay, this is what women talk about. But now faced with infertility, we are no
longer talking. And there is nowhere to grieve these losses. There’s no funeral, there’s no condolence
card, there’s no acknowledgement and very little understanding. And because of this, a chasm begins to open
up between us and the world. Our friendships suffer and we experience an
assault to our identities as able-bodied, competent, relational men and women. We feel shamed and broken. Adding to this is our society and their assumption
that if you really want a baby, you can have a baby. Infertile women are told all the time, “Just
relax,” implying they are somehow responsible for not being able to conceive. They’re also told, “Just adopt. Use a donor.” While these are wonderful options, they’re
not for everyone for various reasons: Financial, cultural, religious. Yet even when they are options, the loss of
fertility must be grieved. We would never tell a woman whose child had
just died, “Just have another.” Yet we tell infertile women all the time,
“Just adopt.” The loss must not be skipped over. Infertile women need to grieve, need to mourn,
and need to articulate all that is happening without being silenced. I grew up with both the women’s movement and
huge strides in reproductive technology. The message was clear. We could have it all. At least until we were in our 40s. And many women are waiting until the time
is right to have children. Some need to work through some childhood trauma
before they’re ready to parent. Even partner, before they’re ready to partner,
and then parent. Some women are not even in touch with the
desire to parent until they work through this trauma. Many women want to establish careers, not
because they are selfish, but because it helps to define them and increases their self-esteem. Some were raised in single-parent or dysfunctional
families, and want to make sure they can support a child on their own. Whatever the reason, science was on our side. But science does not always work.

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