The Gift of Fertility

By Mary Bruno

In a culture where girls are often unintentionally and intentionally pitted against their periods/fertility, what were some of your first few thoughts about it?

I, personally, had no knowledge of the thing other than the fact that it caused us to talk about something rather uncomfortable. When my pain began even before my first period, then worsened over time, it became not only an aggravation, but something I feared.

It is true that menstrual cycles can catch us off guard and become quite cumbersome with the unwanted symptoms it sometimes causes, and all the products, methods and devices one must keep track of.

It’s also true that abstinence is hard. I don’t think anyone would argue with that. But pain tells us that something is wrong and, ideally, directs us towards a solution. And the range of inconveniences associated with having a period, no matter how awful, cannot compare to the privilege of carrying a new life that it makes possible.

Now my periods are gone, along with my pain, but also my fertility. I am confident that I made the right decision for a medical hysterectomy due to the extent to which pain was affecting my daily life. But I’ve thrown no celebrations in honor of my new normal because of the cost I had to pay for it. Even with the downright miserable events it would bring with each cycle, I cherished the potential for pregnancy. It sort of feels like an even exchange.

Managing fertility, pregnancy and raising children brings its own set of very real challenges that should be recognized. And those challenges can be recognized without turning women against the beauty of their very own bodies! Fertility can be frustrating yet understood, confusing and liberating, painful yet celebrated. It doesn’t have to be either/or. It can be both/and. Let’s teach that to our daughters.

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