On Failure as a Women

I’ve never been a girly girl. In fact, as a child you would have probably called me a tom-boy.  (Hold onto your hat, I am going to use a tonne of gender stereotypes today).

I spent countless hours doing the typical girl things – sewing lessons, brownies, making friendship bracelets, babysitting to earn spending money, etc. While I enjoyed the time with my mom and sister, these activities were not my idea of fun. In fact, you could say I hated almost every single moment I spent doing crafts.

As a child, I always preferred to be active and outside, which usually meant I was hanging out with the boys in the family. If my choice was doing crafts with my mom and sister, or racing my brother to see who could run fastest, I would always choose to run (and almost always would win, which of course resulted in multiple arguments and rematches). I always preferred the adventure that came along with going on the biggest roller coaster imaginable or going down the biggest waterslide at the waterpark, which in my family meant I was hanging out with the boys as my mom and sister were not so adventures. In fact, it became a joke with my great-uncle that he knew when I was around we’d always do something “stupid” together!

While clearly a girl, in so many ways, my personality was more like that of one of the boys.

So, now here I am as an adult. From a stereotypical perspective I’m not the greatest in the women department – and I’d definitely be a failure as a 1950s housewife (thankfully it is not the 1950s). I am not the greatest cook alive. I despise cleaning so much I have hired someone else to do it. I am yet to greet Mr. MPB at the door after a hard day at work with a martini. And, clearly I am not staying at home taking care of the children every day.

Which brings me to the point of this, my greatest womanly failure: the most feminine thing possible. In fact, biologically speaking, all I want to do is what the female body is meant to do. All I wanted was to create a living child with Mr. MPB.

But, as I sit here today, 5 miscarriages later; multiple medical appointments, tests, procedures and treatments; and, one expensive trip to an out of country medical expert on the other side of the continent, I’ve learned that my body is just not willing to do what it is supposed to do. I’ve learned that as a women, my body in fact does the exact opposite thing that it should – it works directly against sustaining the life of my child. From a purely biological perspective, it is evident that my body fails at being a women. I cannot hope away my problematic biology, I cannot give my body time to magically fix itself. For us, for me, the reality is that my female body does not work the way it should. In this respect, it fails.

Yet, from a complete human perspective, I know my body’s failures do not make me a failure. And, even more, I believe that this is an important distinction to make. I know that I have the heart of a mother, and that matters more than anything else. And, I know that my heart and Mr. MPB’s heart can overcome the limits of my biology and our circumstances. We know that having a biological child is not the end goal, rather having a healthy child is. We can still achieve the dream, just in a different way than most (i.e. adoption).

Note that this is a follow up to a piece I wrote about a months ago: Heart of a Mother, Body of a Killer. The original post was my raw reaction to learning that my body is the most likely cause of our 5 losses. Today, weeks later, I hope to show my shifting perspective as I work through all the emotional baggage that came along with our diagnosis.

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35 Comments on “On Failure as a Women

  1. I think feeling like a failure as a woman is one of the the hardest things about IF (and probably RPL too, but I don’t speak from the same experience). I’m glad you recognize that you are NOT a failure and that your “mother’s heart” is a true testament to your womanhood (and personhood).

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  2. I’ve been thinking about the subject of this post a lot the last few days. In many ways, I was like you as a child — the tomboy (I even had hideous short hair), always the first to get and stay dirty. I remember my dad half-jokingly warning me as a child, saying things like, “You’ll need to learn how to cook and clean when you get married.” And I always answered back with, “No way, I’m going to marry someone who cooks and cleans.” He was skeptical, but I did end up marrying a man who cooks and cleans. I won that one dad, haha. Anyway, I digress from my point, which is that I have really been trying to come to terms with my body not doing what it’s meant to do as a woman. The truth is, in real life, I’m the only one of my friends that struggles/has struggled with infertility (which is why I am so grateful for you and everyone else in Blog Land). And I wonder, why am I the only one? Why can’t my body just do this one thing that I am literally born to do? And I know I am very, very lucky that I am coming from a place where my body has actually birthed a healthy baby before, yet these thoughts still plague me sometimes. I have not found peace with this yet, but I am so glad to see that you are making your way there. It makes my heart happy that, after all you have been through, you have arrived here. A heart of a mother is really all you need, and from there anything is possible.

    Also, have you made any headway on getting your full diagnosis/test results, etc back from Dr, Braverman’s office? I can’t believe it’s taking so long!

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    • I heard similar thing from my Dad too!! He particularly loved to bug me about lack of cleaning and the layer of dust I allowed to collect. But, thankfully I also married someone who cooks, and cooks well! As for the cleaning, he dislikes it even more then I do, hence hiring someone else to do it. 🙂
      I too have not found lasting peace with my body yet, but I do hope it is coming. I rationally understand that my body is not doing this intentionally, and it is beyond my control. On my good days, which are becoming more and more common, I know this all to be true. But, of course, I still have not so good moment where the frustration screams loudly inside my brain. For me it is taking time and it is also taking effort to forgive and understand.
      As for the Dr. Braverman results. We got the phone call from Dr. B himself with the results on Mr. MPB’s birthday – while still lying in bed sleeping!! Not the ideal way to start off a birthday, but oh well we made the best of it. I’ve been trying to write a post about it all week, and each time I end up producing something completely different – this post and yesterdays are a good example of where my mind has gone. My one and only goal for today is to write something to share tomorrow, but I’m not entirely sure what I will produce (I’m also not sure why I have been unable to coherently write about it – I’m sure a psychologist would have a fun time deciphering my avoidance). Anyways, hopefully I’ll share it soon! 🙂

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      • I got some bad news yesterday too, and have been too scattered and emotional to really even know how to post about it. I understand your need to sit on the results for a bit. But I’m here, and I’m sending you hugs.

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      • Some things just take longer to process than others. And from what I’ve read of Dr. Braverman, he gives a loooot of freaking information to process. I’ll be ready to read whenever you’re ready to post. And if it’s upsetting news, I’ll also be ready to give you a big virtual hug.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It is so lovely to follow your journey. The heart of a mother will make your little one(s) so very lucky one day.

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  4. I’m really glad that you don’t feel like a failure. I’m still honestly trying to get past this feeling…that is, when I even let myself think about the miscarriage at all. I was a tomboy when I was little too! I hated pink and purple and frilly lacy things (but I did, and still do, love crafts) The important thing is that you are able to love and care, and that you know that you will eventually be a mother, in whatever way that ends up happening. You guys will be awesome parents 🙂

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    • Most days I’m pretty good at realizing that I am not a failure, and I know rationally that I am not. That said, I do still have bad days where the frustration and hurt is still there. It’s hard.
      While I never loved crafts and hated the colour pink, I love teddy bears, so clearly I still had some “girly” in me too. 🙂
      And thank you again for your kind words.

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  5. Funny enough, I had a conversation with my therapist about something similar last week. She says that because I’ve never really nurtured my “feminine side” (I don’t even really know what that is supposed to mean), how can I expect my feminine aspect to function properly. Part of it felt like such a crock of shit to me, but another part had me thinking about originally, I had never wanted to be pregnant or have kids. How I was so weirded out by the idea of something living inside me or leeching nutrients from me. But then one day, everything changed. And then I had a taste of what it felt like to be pregnant, which, so far, has been the cruelest joke of them all. It’s interesting how similarly, but also differently we each process RPL. For me, I don’t think I blame my body as much as I blame fate, and the shitty cards we have been dealt. But right now, I’m still in my angry phase. Things may change, as they do.

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    • Okay, did I read that correctly, your therapist linked your lack of feminine to your RPL struggles? Or, did I just read the wrong thing there?
      And, you are so right about what being angry at fate and he shitty hand we’ve been dealt! I don’t believe in fate, but I do at times harbour a lot of anger about our situation and I have a lot of anger towards our doctors here. It’s a pretty unhealthy side of me, but I haven’t found a good way to let go of the anger.
      I just saw your comment about bad news yesterday – I am so sorry to hear that yesterday didn’t go smoothly. If you wan to vent offline, feel free to email. I’m thinking of you and sending you so much love!

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      • Yup. You read correctly. My therapist is a bit out to lunch, and I tried my best not to roll my eyes or offend.

        Yeah, I also struggle with trying not to be angry at all of this. I worry that I will become a grumpy old lady, who people excuse because “she is barren and bitter”.

        I am putting together a post right now. I struggle because I’m trying to be hopeful, but things don’t look promising. I will post soon.

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      • I cannot believe your therapist would say something like that!? I think I would have stood up and walked out if someone actually told me that! While many would argue that your outlook can impact your health, I absolutely do not by into the idea that RPL and IF is related in anyway to not being feminine enough!
        I am so sorry you are struggling to be hopeful – it can be so freaking hard sometimes!

        Liked by 1 person

      • She says some weird shit sometimes. It’s actually entertaining sometimes, especially since DW doesn’t suffer fools nor mystics well, and I can almost see her throwing up in her mouth when the therapist says stuff that’s a little too much for her.

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  6. Oh man, girl! You are so not a failure. I understand that thought process all too well, though. I often relate my success as a woman to my fertility, or lack thereof. RPL can suck a woman dry of all her womanly-ness. But, at times, like now, I know the RPL or IF doesn’t make me less of a woman or less feminine. I also know it doesn’t have any reflection on my success, matter of fact, I think it’s made me more of “one hell of a woman”! You are brave, you are delicate, you are feminine, and you are most certainly not a failure. XOXOX

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    • I love your perspective of being “one hell of a women!”, and absolutely agree that you too are not a failure! Our bodies may not cooperate, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t womenly! 🙂

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  7. We have male factor infertility, so I never felt like a failure as a woman, but I certainly felt like a failure in general. As everyone else kept coasting through life milestones, I stood still. My confidence took a serious hit and I despised meeting new people because I knew that eventually, I’d be asked about kids. I was a serious homebody for 2+ years and felt instant relief once I was good and pregnant. I could finally take part in conversations I’d avoided for so long.

    my husband did not want us telling people that he was the issue. He was perfectly content letting people, including his family, think that my age was the issue. I was terribly hurt by that and did out him to his mother and sisters who wouldn’t shut up about the things I could do to “boost your fertility.”. He never spoke of his issues, even to me, outside of the REs office. Just this weekend though, we ran into an old friend who told us that they’re trying for a baby and my husband says, “you said that last time I saw you, a year or so ago. What’s going on?”. I was floored. When our friend said, “I’m the problem,” my husband said, “yeah, so was I. Let’s go talk.”. I could not believe it. 5 years after being diagnosed, he finally said it out loud to someone else. He later said, “I always felt like a failure as a man, no need for him to feel alone like I did.”

    The desire to reproduce can be so strong, so natural. When we can’t do what our bodies are put on earth to do, it can be terribly isolating and degrading. I’m so glad that you’re moving away from those feelings. And I’m glad my husband is too.

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    • Thank you for sharing your perspective and experience. I find your husband comment and offer to support a friend who may be feeling so alone! It is exactly how I have felt – alone. It can be very lonely at times, and very hard when no-one understands what I am going through. I think your husband’s decision to share his vulnerability and support a friend in need is so incredibly kind and generous.

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  8. hugs on this. I have had those same thoughts, for both similar and different reasons. I have no had the torture of RPL- but the one pregnancy I have had ended in my baby dying from birth defects caused by an extra chromosome. Everyone always points to the egg (though there is a 1/7 chance the chromosome could be from the sperm). I’ve said to myself- all I had to do was produce a good egg- that’s all, and I couldnt even do that. I have days like that- so I feel you. and too have days where I can talk myself out of that thinking, which sounds like you are doing too. It’s crummy to feel that way. If only we could award healthy/viable pregnancies to people based on how badly they want it and not dole them out randomly to people who dont even care!

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    • I am so sorry that you you understand so much of how I am feeling. While our journeys are slightly different, they seem very similar in our shared heartache, loss, grief and self-doubt. You are right, it is a crummy way to feel, a really crummy way.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. You absolutely have the heart of a mother. You are a mother to 5 beautiful angels and have failed at nothing. I just know you are going to be an amazing mom to your adoptive baby too.

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  10. When I received my immune diagnoses and learned that my body was likely the cause of my losses, it gutted me. I felt the same as you wrote about. My body had failed me. I didn’t feel like a complete woman. But the fact that you refuse to give up on being a mother shows how strong your maternal instinct is. You are meant to be a mother. Your fight and your heart shows how fierce of a woman you really are. You are not a failure of a woman, you are the strongest kind of woman. I can’t wait for you to have your happy ending.

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  11. So many thoughts on the shame our society instills in us for being wired to kill instead of support growing babies or for being incapable of even achieving a pregnancy, viable or not, without significant medical intervention. I wish I had the energy to engage. I don’t but please know you are not alone in harbouring these thoughts or feelings. I do think we as RPL and IF survivors (regardless of outcome) benefit from naming the shame and sense of “not being” as we “should” so we can reclaim healthier spaces for ourselves physically, emotionally, spiritually, etc. I hope this journey ultimately takes you and keeps you in one of those spaces wherever you may be at times along the way.

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  12. Since the loss of my two babies I have struggled with feelings of failure too. Even though I did everything I could (vitamins, check ups, no drinking, etc.) I still feel like I failed even when it was out of my control the entire time. It’s hard to reconcile, but I’m glad you are getting to a better place with it. You aren’t a failure, and you will be an amazing mother to your child when the time comes. 🙂

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    • You are so right, it is hard to reconcile all of the emotions that go along with the experience of losing our babies. How can we not feel responsible, but yet at the same time I know that the result was not my choice. For me it has been very weird and hard to accept.
      I hope you too are able to get to a better place with all of these emotions!

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