I’ve been living, breathing, researching fertility since that fateful phone call in April of 1992 that pronounced me hopelessly infertile. So with the New Year, as various publications are naming their choices of the best and brightest in the field of reproductive health. I thought this would be a fine time for Fertile Heart to honor the top three fertility specialists that have been my teachers in the last twenty years.
As some of you know, the Fertile Heart Ovum Work (aka IBOW Program) tools aim to increase fertility by encouraging people to feel, think, choose and act for themselves. Hence I have chosen from my many teachers the ones who have supported me in doing the same. Most importantly, they’ve modeled supreme fertility through the way they’ve lived their lives. In fact two of them are no longer alive and yet their work continues to be a living presence and an instrument of creation for countless seekers of wisdom and fertility in the deepest sense of that word.
At the top of the list is none other than the celebrated fertility specialist, also a poet, novelist, essayist and activist Wendell Berry. Here is what he says about thinking for yourself. “If we have become a people incapable of thought, then the brute thought of mere power and mere greed will think for us.” (from his book, Leavings) This surely is eminently useful guidance in the multi-billion business of making babies.
The next esteemed fertility specialist is the great American writer, peace activist Susan Sontag who has been by my side, validating the ideas of the Ovum work in so many of her brilliant books. Here is what she says about painful feelings, echoing the essential role of what in the IBOW Program we call the Orphans:
“If discontent isn’t channeled off to be repaired by the kind of psycho-therapeutic awareness that robs it of social and political, of historical dimension, the wide prevalence of unfocused unhappiness…could be the beginning of real knowledge… the knowing that would lead to a new version of human nature in this part of the world (Styles of Radical Will). In other words, it’s the Orphan in us, if we dare to sit and face her, that can show us which “new version of ourselves” is calling to be born next.
Finally, few teachers have contributed to the fertility of our minds and hearts more eloquently than the late cultural critic, historian, astonishingly original thinker, the quintessential fertility specialist, Neil Postman. One of his most widely quoted lines is “Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. ” (The Disappearance of Childhood). Certainly, how we conceive and give birth to our children, how we unravel the thread of truth in the story of their conception and birth, will have much to do with what they will defend and stand for. The story we pass on to them will shape the kind of message they will embody.
For now, this is the Fertile Heart short list.
That’s not to say that I don’t value and celebrate every decent, caring fertility specialist and health practitioner who remembers the Hippocrates Oath of doing no harm and supports their patients in choosing the most life-affirming path to parenthood. But we do need to enlarge the circle of teachers to guide us as we grow into our fabulously fiercely luscious fertile selves.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this distinguished list, and perhaps you have a top-fertility specialist list of your own?