When I found out I couldn’t have children, it was one of the most terrible experiences of my life. Not JUST because of the content of the message, but the delivery as well. The doctor was rude, cold, and told me 3 things in 3 consecutive sentences.
- You can’t have kids.
- You’re fat, and need to lose weight.
- If you don’t go on birth control of some sort, or have chemically induced periods, you WILL get ovarian cancer.
…and to top it off, she was confused as to why I was upset and crying.
I left the doctor’s office that day, drove home with my husband, upset, in shock, and genuinely uncertain of my feelings or how I was supposed to feel. After a day or so, I started feeling uncertain in my own femininity and uncomfortable in my own skin. I started going through some weird identity crisis.
Ever since I was little, my father has spoken words of ‘wisdom’. “Moderation in all things” is a classic. “My job is to keep you safe” was another staple in the Cox/Davies household. Somewhere along the line through a flurry of theories and lectures, was a theory of men “spreading their DNA” to continue their genetic lines, and all living things’ goal is to survive. That referred to surviving as an individual, but also to survive as a species and in order to survive as a species, the species has to reproduce.
All that to say, that my main “role” was to survive, individually and as a species and therefore to reproduce. Now that reproduction was off the table, my “role” or “perceived goal” was gone. I didn’t know what to do with myself.
Now, I understand that the world is overpopulated, and me not being able to have children, did NOT mean the human race was on the verge of extinction, however there is something fundamentally grounding in my father’s theory. My little reptilian brain is saying “Reproduce, help the human species survive and thrive!!!”, and my reproductive system is like… “yah…no, we’re not gonna do that!”
I started questioning myself. My idea of fulfillment. My concept of happiness. My understanding of identity and being a woman…I started questioning my own identity. If a woman is meant to bear children (yes, yes, an archaic way of thinking, but bear with me)…and I can’t have kids, am I still a woman? Am I a bad woman? If I’m a bad woman, am I still feminine? Where does my femininity start or end? I used to identify as feminine, kind, caring, nurturing…in University, I was dubbed the “Mom” of the floor, because I used to make sure everyone was ok, and people were taken care of…was that all a lie?
I ended up in this weird, psychosomatic identity crisis where I didn’t feel like the woman I thought I was pre-no-baby-news. I had to convince myself and justify my femininity to myself, and probably overcompensated a bit towards my husband. I thought for some reason, not being able to have kids meant I wasn’t a “real woman”.
I wish I had the answer. I still don’t. I am a lot more comfortable, years later, continuing to identify as a woman, and a somewhat feminine woman at that. I think part of it was the ‘plan’ of go to school, get a job, meet a man, get married, have kids…that’s what you do…that’s what I was supposed to do. So, my entire concept of the future, and therefore my entire concept of ‘self’ was gone in 4 short, 1 syllable words…”You can’t have kids.”