Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Baby blues

I really don't understand why some women are so desperate to have children they resort to round after round of gruelling and costly fertility treatments to get them.

Isn't it enough to have tried for pregnancy, failed, and made new plans that don't include children? For a startlingly large number of women (and men), it isn't.

Being childless seems to leave them with such a black hole, such a sense of something missing, they just can't accept the situation.

The average child-seeking couple spends £4782 on fertility treatments, even though only 47% of women end up with a baby*. Some couples take on mortgage-size debts to carry on with treatment to the bitter end, they are so unwilling to admit defeat and their physical failings.

I'm baffled as to what prompts this raging obsession. I suppose some women are still convinced they're not a real woman unless they've borne a child. Or it's a variation on plastic surgery - they just can't accept their 'flawed body' and have to put it right. Or else it's the men putting pressure on them to continue the family or they'll find another woman who can.

And surprise surprise, many women feel guilty that their hedonistic lifestyles may have jeopardised their ability to get pregnant, while most men don't think about that and still assume it must be the woman's fault - even though 30% of all fertility problems in Northern Ireland are due to male infertility*.

It also annoys me that 23% of infertility treatment is paid for by the NHS, when the UK is hardly under-populated in the first place. I could think of some much better uses for the money - improving hospital hygiene and wiping out superbugs, for a start. Cleaning not weaning!

* Red magazine survey, quoted in the Belfast Telegraph 5.9.07


Medbh said...

I struggled with it as I've said before.
It's probably hard for men to understand that society tells girls from the minute that they're born that they are future mommies. Plus I think it's hard to understand when you have easily chosen to not have kids. As easy as your decision to not have them was, it was just as true for others that they wanted them.
But all that money on fertility treatments is terribly wasteful. Why not just adopt if you can't have your own? Plenty of kids out there looking for parents.

Nick said...

Yes I do understand that some women really passionately want kids and feel really distressed when it doesn't happen, though as you say the mummy-goal is forcefed to little girls from day one so is this desire totally genuine?

Good point about adoption - there are thousands of orphaned and unwanted kids out there desperate for loving parents.

Wisewebwoman said...

It is extraordinary the lengths people go to to fulfil this dream. I remember reading research that stated people with a happy childhood do not have quite the same urge to pro-create as people who didn't. I did a casual survey on my friends, many of whom are childless by choice, and was startled at the accuracy of the research.
Certainly food for thought and agree with Medbh re adoption. Two of my brothers are infertile and have adopted. So many kids out there needing a home.

Gaye said...

I am still undecided on that one. Part of me is selfless, wants to adopt a child or two who were born to unfortunate circumstances. Make their life a good one, give them all the love and attention as well as care I am able to give. The other part of me wants so much to bring a mini-me and / or mini-niall to this world, that is the selfish one I think. I am not sure if I would go through all the painful (emotionally and physically) treatments, stress and financially draining treatments, I think not. Still, I don't think I can deny the treatment to women and men who want so much to have child(ren). I think it's only very silly and wasteful if they were perfectly capable of having children but waited for years till it was too late to do so. Now, that is unbelievably selfish and riddick.

Nick said...

www - oddly enough I don't fit with the research because my childhood was not very happy - my parents were always quarrelling and I was bullied at school. In fact one motive for my not having children was not to inflict a similar experience on them. Guess I'm the exception that proves the rule yet again!

Gaye - A mini Gaye and Niall, that sounds an interesting mix. Selfish? - no comment. Excellent point about couples who are biologically fit but wait too long. But in that case, do you think a woman should put her career on hold until she's had children?

Gaye said...

I just think women should make up their minds about what they want without waiting till they are too old and have to go through the stressful treatments. It's not that hard.
But, having said that, if they haven't just wasted time enjoying more drunken nights out, more traveling, more of every other fun thing then woke up one day thinking Shit I don't have any eggs left what do I do?, then they should be given a chance to realize their dream, if their dream has been all along to have children and they haven't been able to realize their dream for reasons beyond their control.
I don't know if this makes sense at all, I feel like a spoilt brat and am having great time just rambling on commenting here and there.

Nick said...

Maybe I'm a bit of a toughie here, but I think if a woman finds she can't have a child, I don't see why she should be entitled to very costly treatments at NHS expense to help her have one (and as I said the treatment is often unsuccessful anyway). Having a child is not a medical or social need. She can always have private treatment if she can afford it. If she can't, she ought to come to terms with it, just as we all have to come to terms with things we can't have. And as Medbh said, there's always adoption. Sorry if that sounds hard as nails....

Gaye said...

It's your opinion and I respect that. At the same time I think it is every government's responsibility to spend more on medical technology (hence reduced cost of all kinds of medical treatments) than say weapons technology, I can pee further than you type nuclear power competition expenses, space exploration, etc. Instead of messing about in other countries, whether it be creating wars or conflicts all around the world.

Nick said...

Well I certainly agree with you there Gaye, we should spend less on things like weapons, futile wars and the London Olympics and more on health, education, community care and public services generally. But I still think NHS money is better spent on vital medical and personal needs like hip replacements and heart repairs.