I recently read a thought-provoking post which, in talking about adoption, drew some comparisons between the emotions evoked by an unplanned pregnancy and the emotions evoked by an inability to conceive. I've been turning the idea over and over in my mind since reading it, and I have a few thoughts on the subject.
You see, unplanned pregnancy is something closer to my experiences than infertility. . . . or at least it was until I started struggling with infertility myself. I've had "pregnancy scares" when I was younger where my period was late after unprotected sex. (Yeah, I know, dumb, right? And had I known then what I know now--that I can't conceive--I could've saved myself some stress and lost sleep!) Both my mom and stepmom and a few of my friends have gotten pregnant when they weren't planning to. . . some of those when they were actively trying NOT to get pregnant. There were several girls at my high school who got pregnant by accident. I get that.
In both situations, something is not right. The woman may feel trapped in a situation not of her own making. She may feel that her body has betrayed her. She may feel judged by other people. Depression and desperation are likely common to both situations, as they would be in any situation where things are happening that one cannot control.
One key difference I perceive between the two scenarios, though, is that I would venture to say that the majority of women who become mothers when they weren't planning to eventually come to accept their situation and to love their child. I'm sure there are a minority who do not--I've worked with children in foster care for too long to think that some kids don't go on being "unwanted"--but most do. Of my friends whose pregnancies were unplanned, more than one has told me that they have loved being a mother and that they are grateful for the child, despite the circumstances of its conception.
For those of us who are infertile and will never have a child of our own, there is no "light at the end of the tunnel." There's no "consolation prize." Best case scenario, we learn to live with an alternative life, a life we didn't choose, with no child to make the situation seem like "fate" or "kismet" or "meant to be." There will never be a justification for our inability to achieve one of the most basic goals in our lives.
Years ago, on the handful of occasions when I feared I might be pregnant, I could still see an "end game" where everything would turn out OK for me. Depending on where I was in my life, that end game either included giving the child up for adoption or parenting, either alone or with the child's father.
With infertility, I don't see an end game where things will turn out OK. I don't know how I--or my husband--will accept never being a parent to our own child. And to me, therein lies the difference.