Womenshealth.gov says, “Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile. About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” The average is heavily weighted toward women over 30, and even more so for women 40 and over which have infertility rates in excess of 30%. Women are getting married and conceiving later (after 30) and so many young families are facing fertility problems. As a result a lot of couples have opted not to have children because options for fertility treatments have improved but remain expensive and intrusive.
Married women face a different multitude of issues having children than their mothers and grandmothers, and medical technology gives them both options for birth control and infertility solutions. Women often plan their careers and lifestyles by having children later in life by choice, but often find increased problems later when trying to get pregnant. A few women are opting to freeze their eggs before 30, even before committing to anyone in marriage. Children born with certain special needs are on the rise.
There are women who want to get pregnant who cannot, and there are 1-1/2 percent of women who opt for abortion because of unplanned pregnancies - that is over half a million unwanted babies killed per year. Birth rates in modern countries are down for numerous reasons: (1) infertility rates, (2) abortion rates, (3) less couples (married/unmarried) choosing to have children, (4) advent of birth control, (5) the generation gap is increasing between parents and children, (6) couples (married/unmarried) choosing to have less children, and (7) less marriage. Population growth and existing population levels have been a concern within certain circles for a very long time. For certain, the elites have been vying for quite some time to adopt measures that have driven the numbers down. Many of the measures or lifestyle changes in modern countries have affected core good-values surrounding families. The sheer quantity of abortions performed, regardless of political affiliation with the pro-choice or pro-life movement, is devastating. In the past and even to-date people have had to deal with mass starvation, killing through war, and sterilization because of poor leadership and a de-emphasis on life. Population growth is now leveling off and geared to head in a slow downward direction. More countries are becoming modern, and being modern has benefits for citizens and leadership, along with being a better choice for curbing population size. There is not likely to be another “baby boom” generation, even with medical technology, not so long as women have the menu of options with family planning. In modern countries many women raise children as a single parent, some have none, others face infertility, others start their nuclear families early or later on, and some still have really large families.
I fit well into the category of women struggling to have children. I married in my late twenties on birth control, already well into a career. My husband and I pursued our careers with two incomes and sought to become financially independent and debt-free, and also develop a solid foundation in our marriage before committing to children. We pursued children when I was in my mid-thirties. I witnessed many of my friends who did the same start families. Now, being 40, I am enlisting help from a fertility clinic and my options are limited, because my eggs are not as viable anymore. Emotionally, the biggest difficulty is that I have not been dealt a hard blow on a given day that I have to deal with. Instead, it’s an ongoing grief with a nagging feeling. As long as one option still exists there are hopes and mixed feelings. I can’t move on and so I grieve quietly on-and-off on-going. I’ve fasted and prayed for a child, and I’ve considered the benefits of not having kids with optimism. Adoption seems an easy solution to a difficult situation, but it doesn’t appeal to my husband, and my mental health issues from the past stand in the way. Right now, a child is still a possibility. For those without the rich financial resources, they have to stand down. As a woman alive today life is full of possibilities and richness regardless. Blessings abound! Still, society stands or falls by its next generation and I desire to pass something on that will live further (maybe several generations). I’m missing the age of raising children which leaves an emptiness in my heart and anxieties about the future. It seems most women identify or want to identify as mothers - as one who carries in her womb and creates life and as one who sees a part of her reflected in her children. This is all part and parcel for my generation of women, the turbulence of life. It was also an issue in the Bible which was sometimes alleviated with patience to the God-fearing. Being an optimistic person and a lover of life this issue does not define me, nor should it.
To the woman (or man) who also struggles with infertility I say the following 5 things: (1) Stay optimistic in life and love life. (2) Pursue the world with the wonder of a child, regardless if you raise one or not. (3) You have a lot to offer reality, so offer it. (4) Everyone in life faces difficult issues, some as consequences of past actions, and others we are simply dealt. With every issue stands the possibility for spiritual or mental growth. Grow! (5) Be a great aunt, uncle or mentor of another youth to influence the next generation.
To the Child I May or May Not Ever Know, a poem by Michelle Murphy
To the child I may or may not ever have -
There are things I want for your life.
And here they are:
I want you to learn mathematics and art,
And your dad wants you to learn history and economics.
This is why we will look after you in the summers to keep you learning when school is out.
I want you to sit in the church pew and behave,
Until you learn the songs of Jesus (Psalms)
And come to a deep understanding of God.
I want you to look at the world with wonder,
Until you first look upon the world with dismay,
And come back to that wonder for healing and inspiration whenever you can.
It is hard not to get stuck in dismay as an adult.
I want you to be independent -
In thought, and from your parents, and from your peers,
And as much as possible from the system (matrix).
I want you to sneak your first booze,
With your cousins Olive and Oscar
And have a good time.
I want you to be beautiful - inside and out,
And realize that even when teenage girls or boys
Might pass you up for some other person
That you are beautiful.
I want you to know that there are aliens in the universe
And that they have probably been here
And that they probably care about man, but some of them don’t.
I want you to understand that war is an ugly thing,
But that there is just war,
But that history often looks back on war and sees that it could have been avoided,
And that people died for no good reason.
I want you to understand the kings of this world do things that are difficult to understand.
That I have sought to understand this world, but it is complex.
And maybe it is not for us to know everything.
I want you to seek knowledge and truth and learning
And not be satisfied with an easy answer.
I want you to think about how long mankind has been here - on earth,
And think about your ancestors and those that have passed,
And about the ancients who influenced our ways.
And the Greeks, and the Romans, and the Hebrews.
I want you to know we live in a material world, with instant access to everything,
And the importance of patience, and love, and simple things.
I want you to be free of any kind of mental illness, because I have it,
While it is a gift, it has also been a curse,
And I would choose to rid myself of it.
I want you to be a person of prayer, because prayer works,
And it is the right thing to do if you respect God.
I want you to smile and make people laugh,
Because I already know you have a beautiful smile and laugh.
It is one of the things I love best about your father, and about other people.
Smiles and laughs are addictive.
It is the kind of addiction you should have above others that you should not have.
I want you to know that some good people are tortured, or their head is lopped off,
But that God is there and not remote from those locations.
And that is something for you to search out, understand, and come to terms with
As part of your journey in life.
I want you to get and seek a challenging life,
So you will grow and develop work ethic and solve problems for others.
If you encounter pain and struggle, that you will overcome and grow,
That there will be mentors in your life that have done the same.
I want you to avoid drinking the Kool-aid, and we will make sure you do,
And steer clear of left-right methodologies or other simple mantras.
I want you to develop within yourself and through hard work your life purpose,
And not seek something frilly to keep you fulfilled.
We are not sprinkled with fairy dust.
I want you to stay off your phone or implement at the dinner or luncheon table
No matter what others are doing around you,
And spur on conversation or sit in silence and watch others.
I want you to understand where material items come from,
And that we are surrounded by technology,
And to support common-sense sustainability.
I want you to understand energy and how it drives the world,
And how it converts from one form to another in nature,
And how mankind has harnessed it.
I want you to know that mathematics and science are everywhere,
From the leaf on every tree, to the vacuum space in the universe,
From microscopic organisms, to macroscopic systems,
That once you dive through the boundary of our skin - there is another universe altogether.
That this is awesome.
I want you to know we love you, dad and I, even though we don’t show it sometimes.
That we love each other (your parents) and that things are good right now as I’m writing this.
That love is a verb, because it requires action,
And it is something not to take for granted, but something you can learn to rely on in a good family.
Work to have a good family when you grow up.
To the child I may or may not ever have.
These are the things I want for your life.
Michelle is a woman of depth whose faith has pulled her through some difficult times. She finds beauty and inspiration from life experience and literature, sourced from all ages and walks of life. Michelle seeks to inspire other women in their personal journeys, especially those who struggle. Michelle is also a mental health advocate, writer & engineer. Her other website is www.freemindbooks.com.