Exploiting Fears of Childlessness Might Be Slick Marketing, but Will It Make Us More Fertile?
Fear and self-loathing won’t make us more fertile. But turning the biological clock into a time bomb by exploiting fears of childlessness makes for an effective marketing tool. The more panicked we are the more money we’ll spend for expert help. First Response, and the rest of the dream team that thought up the eye catching Make Britain Fertile campaign clearly understand that.
There are many ways to put your brand in the limelight. Attempting to boost sales by fueling the collective hysteria of the last good egg in the vulnerable population of aspiring mothers, speaks either of an utter lack of integrity or an impaired aptitude for engaging on more than a superficial level with the complex, emotionally charged subjects of fertility, pregnancy, and motherhood.
The idea of time as a woman’s greatest enemy is pervasive not only in the fertility world but in our culture in general, and it’s a no-win game. Telling ourselves that we are falling behind schedule is hearing the roar of the fire-breathing dragon of self-loathing. We can choose to feed this dragon or attempt to understand, as compassionately as we can, what it is that keeps us from moving forward in life.
The caricature of an “old pregnant hag” sends a shaming subliminal message to women of all ages.
For those in their late thirties and early forties it fuels fears of childlessness, propelling them to seek saviors in state-of-the-art clinics, where they’re sucked into the black hole of devastating statistics the minute they fill in the DOB box. Many of them then turn to expensive and far from benign procedures, before they even give nature a chance.
The message of this misogynistic campaign does a similar disservice to the younger generation, presenting graphs of declining ovarian function while perpetuating the notion that they are nothing more than a collection of parts that corrode with time.
Depending on who does the testing and how they interpret and communicate the results, testing hormone levels may or may not be useful .
Daryn Art is one of the countless young women told that she might never conceive a biological child, based on tests and the medical dogma of the day. Today, Daryn is the mother of three, all conceived naturally after choosing a less travelled road of self-care rather than the synthetic stimulants that might have further impaired her ovarian function.
The wisest and most courageous thing I’ve ever done was to resist societal pressures to marry and have a child before I was ready.
Doing so did not turn me into an old hag. It’s true that at age 42, I, too, had been diagnosed with so-called irreversible infertility. But rather than telling me I was infertile, my diagnosis was a call to realize I was more fertile than I ever imagined. It allowed me to use the myriad gifts I have been blessed with and birth the not-yet-born Self that could not have been born any other way. It allowed me to acquire the wisdom and skills I needed to, as Bob Dylan put it, “stay busy being born,” rather than busy dying.
Today I’m the wife of the most wonderful man I’ve been married to for 24 years, and a mother of two glorious daughters. The first one was conceived naturally at age 41, and the younger one, also conceived the old fashioned way, was born a few months before my 45th birthday.
I’m a woman in my fiercely fertile and sizzling sixties, doing what I can to contribute to a saner human community. In my work I aim to point the women who seek my guidance toward a most life affirming path to parenthood regardless of their age, their health challenges or any other circumstances. For close to two decades I’ve witnessed the astounding resilience of the human organism. I’ve seen women like Louise Lawson conceive naturally and give birth at age 44, after 5 failed IVF treatments. I’ve celebrated the birth of her daughter with Gen G., who also conceived naturally at 40 and after tuning in to her body’s cry for help.
If assisted reproductive technology is the road we choose, we want to insure safe travels. We want to do what it takes to prepare for that journey and start it when we’re ready and not because we’re bullied into such a choice by a scary commercial.
To the younger women who wish to someday parent a child I say: Harness that wish as you learn to be exquisite mothers to yourself first; get to know your body and heart, the beliefs imprinted in muscle and marrow; use your energy in a way that enlivens you; pay attention not only to your lifestyle and the food you eat, but more importantly, to the ideas you choose to ingest. Learn to hear and stay loyal to no other master than your own deepest truth. And when in doubt, speak out loud these words of that supremely qualified fertility specialist, Walt Whitman:
“…Dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body…”