Tuesday, May 11, 2010
Infertility 101-Ch.7- Undesirable?
Before infertility I had never felt unsexy. I went through awkward teens and my early twenties learning to make peace with my body and myself. Once I did I was very in touch with my sexuality. I'm not body conscious. I love my hips, breasts and derrière. My cellulite doesn't keep me awake at night, nor does the odd stretch mark. I'm very comfortable in my own skin as should be evident by the above photo. I'm not someone who struggles with confidence. Infertility however has at times left me feeling manly and unattractive. As someone who clearly has a healthy dose of self esteem in this area, I'm often surprised at how this has altered my self perception.
There's two things I believe with all my might. Number 1 - sex appeal comes from inside. I think we can all thank Mick Jagger for that lesson. Number two - Everyone is sexy. I firmly believe these, and yet my self esteem has taken a huge beating these past few years. Why has my womanhood been under so much assault during infertility?
Growing up I knew the biggest difference between men and women was women bare children. In fact, not only was this the biggest difference it was what made women amazing. Women bring life into this world. Pregnancy is the time women are more beautiful than ever before. Where then does this leave those of us who are barren? Does it mean we are any less womanly? At times I have felt so.
I have grieved not only for the loss of pregnancies, but for my own womanhood as well. I have struggled with the belief that pregnancy makes a woman a woman. I have felt crushed by the thought I will forever pale in comparison to those with rounded bellies, and breasts full of milk. While watching period movies I often remark to Doug that years ago I would have been reviled for being barren. There are moments this thought permeates more than I would like. In many ways, we are still shunned. Most of us have felt the accusatory tone in which infertility is addressed. The questioning eyes wondering what's wrong with us? I have felt my sexuality has failed me.
Broken is the simplest word to express my deepest fear. I'm broken damaged goods. Infertility is such a personal experience it is hard to stop it filtering into the cracks of your self worth. It plays upon your skin and eats away at your spirit piece by piece. It is hard to feel alluring when your struggling to feel like a woman at all. When today you hope no one will notice that while you have breasts and a womb, they are empty because you failed.
I have felt more akin to a man than a woman. The feminine part of myself I once adored has at times dissipated. Hidden under the layers of disappointment. I can not carry a baby or give birth, what right do I have to use the term woman? Can I still be regarded as seductive, captivating, and feminine? Is my body still arousing despite it's glaringly obvious defect? Is it possible womanhood is not merely bringing life into this world? Could womanhood be comprised of something more?
Maybe my womanhood is in the way I take care of those around me. In the way I gently squeeze my husband's hand to let him know I'm there. The way I strive to protect the planet and it's many wondrous creatures. The way my dear infertile friends and I have gathered together to share each other's celebrations and sorrow in a covenant of sisterhood. Infertility has many times broken our hearts, but still our spirits soldier on. Maybe being a woman is the innate part of myself that whispers in my ear, you are strong.
I have fought hard to claim back my femininity. I have been to battle against old fashioned beliefs. My empty belly has become a symbol of courage and resilience. The tiny scars near my hips a reminder of loss and strength. I am a woman, and an extremely tough one at that. I may not be the traditional woman bringing children into this world. I may not be barefoot and pregnant. I am however powerful, passionate and driven. I am more than my infertility. More than a fractured womb. I am erotic and sensual. There is no ailment that can ever rob us of our sexuality. Beauty truly is a creation of the inner soul, and womanhood does not begin or end with pregnancy. I am an infertile woman, a barren babe if you will, and I am damn sexy.