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Infertility IS Hell

a blog by Genna Banafato, June 20, 2013

Infertility is hell. There, I said it. Every person will travel through it differently, but I think you would be hard pressed to find one infertile who smiled and said, "Nah, that was a piece of cake. I can't wait to do that again." There are a lot of references to hell in pop culture, from movies like the Robin Williams "What Dreams May Come", where each person's hell is individual based on their experiences. In classical music, such as NIght on Bare Mountain by Mussorgsky. In Disney, with various scenes from Fantasia. Yep - even Mickey has gotten his hell on. And don't forget about television. Buffy has been to more hell dimensions than probably any other fictional character.

Then there's literature, and within literature, Dante. The "Divine Comedy", Dante's Inferno, is likely the most well known written vision of hell. What does this do with Infertility, you may ask? Trust me, I'm getting there.


I just finished reading Dan Brown's newest novel, "Inferno". I was really looking forward to it. Along with what seems like the rest of the world, I bit my fingernails page by page reading "The DaVinci Code" and soaked up every other word he had written before and since. I was really excited to read "Inferno". Indeed it was another page turner - right up until the end.

Right up until the end where it is revealed that the evil mastermind (with a heart of gold) has created a virus that will render one-third of the world's population infertile, as a method of solving the over-population problem threatening society. This virus will be embedded in the DNA of every person, passed down through genetics, being "activated" at random. Additionally, in the book, the leader of the World Health Organization is infertile due to medication she had to take as a child. Her husband left her because she couldn't have children. After being confronted with the truth of this virus, it took her a whole paragraph and a half to decide that this was a GREAT idea that WHO shouldn't try to find a cure for. The girlfriend of the mastermind behind the "Infertility Virus" even says, "Instead of sending us horrific disasters and misery…. maybe nature, through the process of evolution, created a scientist who invented a different method of decreasing our numbers over time. No plagues. No death. Just a species more in tune with its environment" (pg. 546).

I don't know about you - but finding out I might not be able to have children was pretty damned miserable. No amount of convincing from anyone would have made me agree that my infertility was best for society and nature (especially not in a literary paragraph and a half). What makes the randomly chosen fertile a better potential parent than I would be? Would this "virus" also take away the basic biological need to BE a parent, to have a child?

One-third of the world's population rendered involuntarily infertile at the hands of a scientist. It reeks of Dr. Mengele.

Finding out I was infertile put me on a path of a lot of different emotions. My own nine circles of hell. Maybe not as biblically significant as Dante's, but it was still a damned struggle for me. Each step from suspicion to diagnosis, to second opinion, to treatment and injections, to failed cycles and lost babies. A Journey through Hell to parenthood. To being a Mommy. To looking into the blue and darkening eyes of my girls who are the greatest thing I have ever accomplished.

I've been to Hell and back. I know this is *just* a book. However, I don't know what makes me angrier: knowing that Dan Brown thought, even for a little while, that infertility could be an acceptable solution to overpopulation or knowing that somewhere out there, there are probably people nodding their heads agreeing with him.


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