26 October 2012

The Bodies

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.

[....many pages....]

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.

11 comments:

Janet said...

my mother wanted more than anything to be a grandmother...but because of the drug she took to prevent miscarriage (DES) neither my brother or I could have kids.

kittiesx3 said...

The older I've gotten, the more I've realized it was just blind luck to get pregnant so easily (and may I say in the case of the first offspring, so unplanned). Seeing friends and family face difficulties in getting pregnant has really opened my eyes to how incredibly lucky I was. I will never be able to say I fully understand, at least not from first hand personal experience. But I'm a lot more aware of it now.

BTW I've heard this from others -- that their parents or in-laws practically demand they have children so the parents can be grandparents. I find that incredibly rude and presumptuous. Grrr.

Jeanne said...

When I was in the hospital after my hysterectomy, one of the aides told me that there was a woman in her 20s who'd had one on the other side of the floor, and that she was dealing with everything I was, plus grief over never being able to have children. I still think about her.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I am a very lucky woman anticipating grandchildren soon and I very much understand how sad I would be if that were not the case.

quarterrest said...

Of all the people who asked when we were going to have kids, my parents weren't among them and for that I am glad. It took us a while to get around to it (simply our life and timing) and they were overjoyed when their granddaughter was born. We all know how lucky we are...

Lollipop Goldstein said...

We were reading that this storm on the east coast is part of a 500 - 1000 year cycle and we won't see another like it for that amount of time. 500+ years from now, my greatX10 (or so) grandchildren will be living it if they're still living above ground. And that blew my mind, what infertility possibly steals from you. That it's not just the hear and now, but the future as far as the eye can see and for others in the past.

Thought-provoking post.

Jocelyn said...

SOOOO happy for that eight-year-old gift in your life...and sorry for those who long for something they didn't even know they wanted.

Here, I thought I'd be commenting, I read that Mantel sequel a few months ago and blahblahblah...So much better that you made the author so personal.

loribeth said...

Here from Mel's Friday Roundup. This post resonated with me. It's more than 10 years since I stopped infertility treatment, & while I think I've adapted to childless living pretty well, there are still "ouch" moments, and these days, they are coming more frequently again as my peers (most of whom had finished their families before I even started trying seriously for mine) are beginning to become grandparents. *sigh*

Haralee said...

I do some volunteer work for Breast Cancer and to young women diagnosed I always mention harvesting eggs, just in case. Some are successful and have children later some are not, and it is scary after so much drugs and treatments. Eggs in the bank doesn't mean they have to be used but the option is there.

Lavender Luz said...

This is the part that got me:

"What I wanted was the choice."

I hadn't considered until now just how long the effects of infertility will ripple...

Deathstar said...

It still bites me in the ass every now and then. I always wanted a daughter, I used to dream of her, my mother's blood flowing from me to her and beyond. I wanted more than one, and yet, even when I doubt I even have the capacity to deal with parenthood, I just wanted the choice.