Women are raised in a culture that glorifies, idealizes and glamorizes motherhood. Women are bombarded by these societal and cultural messages and cannot escape the expectation that eventually a woman will bear children. At least that is the expectation. When a woman cannot bear children, it can be devastating. A woman’s identity can be impacted and the pain can extend past her personal relationships. Any experience can remind her of her infertility; such as walking down the medication aisle at a grocery store where children’s cold medication are shelved as well.
Sadly, woman may lack adequate resources to receive help during this difficult transition. Although infertility groups are readily available, woman who choose to remain childless may feel isolated even when they are attending such groups. Often, infertility groups are focused on options such as in-vitro fertilization or adoption. Support for woman who choose to stop treatment or not adopt is lacking. Women who decide to live child-less are isolated as friends move through the family life cycle of becoming parents.
Making the decision to remain child-less is difficult and painful and society’s reaction to one’s position can be traumatic. Such reaction can contribute to greater isolation. Psychologically, it is the death of one’s anticipated and imagined life. Such a loss can have significant psychological repercussions. Therefore, education and awareness is critical.
Woman begin to imagine themselves as mothers long before they try to conceive children. Little girls are socialized to play with babies and engage in pretend play as a mother. When the self is envisioned as a mother and that opportunity is stolen, a woman may feel out of control, her future may be perceived as threatened and she may doubt her womanhood, her existence and she may feel unable to self-actualize (Social Work Today, November/December 2012).
Women tend to bond over areas of their lives that overlap, such as pregnancy and children. It is easy for a woman to feel excluded or stigmatized because she is childless. In addition, women’s marriages can experience tremendous stress as a result of the infertility. In fact, it may take 3 or 4 years after a woman decides to end treatment or abstain from adoption for the infertility to disappear from the forefront of their minds and lives.
TIP: Hence, it is imperative that help is sought if a woman’s mental, emotional, physical and/or relationships are negatively impacted by the infertility.
A.C.T. will provide free resource information for individuals and families to help promote education. For more information, please contact Dr. Drecun at Dr.Drecun@a4ct.com or (858) 792-3541. You may also visit us online at www.a4ct.com. ACT serves the Del Mar 92014 and La Jolla 92037 area.