I'm reading Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies right now. In one of those little frissons of synchronicity, she just won the Man Booker prize for it, and she was profiled in the New Yorker a couple of weeks ago. I feel so au courant; I'm rarely reading anything that in the news right this very moment.
But a curious little bit of Mantel's biography struck me in the gut, a bit that hasn't really anything to do with her book.
Allow me the liberty of a two longish quotes from the New Yorker profile by Larissa MacFarquhar:
She deduced that she had endometriosis, a disorder in which uterine cells are found in other parts of the body; the cells bleed each month and scar tissue builds up, and when that scar tissue presses against nerves it causes pain. Her pain was growing unbearable, but she had finally come to the end of her book, and she was determined to type out a fair copy to show to publishers and agents when she went back to England for Christmas. She spent weeks typing, finished, and collapsed.
In England, she saw various doctors. “I went into St. George’s Hospital,” she says, “and ten days later I came out minus ovaries, womb, bits of bowel, bits of bladder. Minus a future, as far as having children was concerned.” It wasn’t that she felt such a strong urge to have children—she had been married for seven years and hadn’t tried to get pregnant. She was good for more than breeding, she thought. But she’d always assumed that she’d have the chance to change her mind.
She is much calmer now than she used to be. She never thought that she’d end up so calm....She isn’t calm because she has reconciled herself to her medical fate: she has not. “I wasn’t certain, and I’m still not certain, whether I wanted children,” she says. “What I wanted was the choice. I have felt most sorrow in later life, over the last ten years, when grandchildren are being born, I suppose because I was very close to my own grandmother. Of course, it follows that if you’re not a mother you’re not going to be a grandmother, but that’s not something you think of in your thirties. So the loss keeps changing its shape.”
Infertility. The grief that keeps on giving.
In another bit of synchronicity, I just read a blog post at the Chloe Chronicles. Not only did Chloe have her own encounter with infertility, her daughter and son-in-law have now discovered that they can't have any biological children. So, Chloe is facing second generation infertility.
I just hadn't really thought about it before. If our treatments hadn't been successful, and we'd ended up a childless couple, my parents and my in-laws wouldn't have been grandparents to our feisty little girl. And, while I'm a long way from being a grandmother - she is only eight still - if I hadn't had her, I wouldn't have that possibility to look forward to.
You just never get away from it.