Ever since Dawn appeared on the Creating a Family podcast, I’ve been going back and listening to their archives. I started with the old adoption shows, reasonably enough, and then I ran out and started listening to infertility shows. I did worry about secondary infertility after Cricket—some time after I got pregnant with the little bird, on a night when I was doubting that I was actually pregnant, Mr. Book let me know how annoying my baseless worry about infertility had been, and that I was pregnant now, so for God’s sake! I can worry at a professional level, and I don’t doubt that it’s super irritating; unluckily for Mr. Book, he can be awfully funny when he is aggravated. So now I am learning about ART and many other things. When Mr. Book sees me wearing headphones these days, he gives me a flat, disbelieving stare and shakes his head. I guess it is a bit weird. . . .
Most recently, I was listening to a podcast on the use of traditional Chinese medicine to treat infertility. Once of the first callers explained that she was trying to conceive, and that her doctor considered her (at age 42) to be of advanced maternal age, “but I don’t believe it.” The TCM provider agreed, saying that she doesn’t believe in advanced maternal age—and, for that matter, she doesn’t believe in infertility. The host was a bit startled, and asked for clarification: the TCM provider explained that if you open yourself to life, you will get pregnant. It’s as simple as that. What bothered me, and what I’d really like to hear about from those with experience (since I don’t have personal experience with infertility), is that it sounded to me like this blames women for their inability to get pregnant or carry a baby to term. If all you have to do is open yourself to life and you are not getting pregnant, you are failing. Maybe I’m looking at it the wrong way, and please correct me if so!—but it seems like a pretty tough row to hoe. There’s nothing wrong with trying to have a baby at forty, of course, but suggesting that if it takes any more time or effort than it might take a twenty-year-old, that is your personal spiritual failing and not biology . . . I don’t like it.
I should probably disclose that I start out pretty skeptical of traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, aromatherapy, and most forms of alternative medicine. I will drink ginger tea when I’m having an upset stomach, so it’s not as though I have a deep aversion to useful herbs, but my views in the area overall are pretty conservative. And yet, when I was pregnant with Cricket, I took homeopathy tablets at my midwives’ insistence, despite the fact that I agree with James Randi about that course of treatment. I think that’s why the TCM lady bothered me so much—women in vulnerable positions are being sold a bill of goods, and I don’t like it.