I’ve been so busy enjoying myself (and I mean downright relishing my life and the freedom that comes with being a family of two) that I’ve been less inclined than usual to sit down at the computer and write, even with a juicy headline as catnippy and compelling as “Women Who Suffer From Infertility More Likely to Become Alcoholics, Study Says.”
I kid you not. A new Danish study reveals that:
“women who remained childless after fertility evaluation had an 18 percent higher risk of all mental disorders than the women who did have at least one baby,” Baldur-Felskov said.
While “these higher risks were evident in alcohol and substance abuse, schizophrenia and eating disorders,” according to the researchers, there was a silver lining, our slice of the infertility population appeared “lower in affective disorders including depression.”
Oh, snap! I would have been all over that bit of irresistible infertility reporting if I was, say, the post-infertility-trauma blogger of 2009. (Fortunately, I didn’t know then that I had such a high probability of substance abuse or I would have worried endlessly about that, too. While I’m glad researchers and clinicians are finally getting on the clue train here about the need to provide adequate support and understanding when infertility treatments fail, a part of me is glad I didn’t know about these statistics when I was at my most vulnerable.)
What did I do when I saw this story and other similar pieces (“Infertility may increase risk of mental disorders”) baiting me last week? I turned off my computer, pulled on my most comfortable shoes and joined some friends for a two-hour hike soaking up the best of Mother Nature. This lack of desire to pounce on such infertility headlines is the kind of development I never dreamed possible a few years ago.
Those days of vacuuming up any and all things infertility, or working through associated concerns, worries and/or moping about my faulty uterus are but a distant memory — which is why I was so surprised to see angsty emotions surface recently by none other than friends who are also mothers.
It’s like there’s been a complete role reversal. We’ve traded places. Now they’re the ones consumed with low-grade depression, envy and moping as they deal with the downsides of parenthood. Clearly the mommy honeymoon period is over.
What I hear regularly today from “the moms” is frustration at being misunderstood or devalued by their spouse and/or children, gnawing concern about a lack of direction in their lives, a rootlessness. They express impatience and wonder when they can be liberated from what, today, feels like an endless stream of demands on their time.
Holy Toledo! How did this happen? I spent my 30s and early 40s in a state of perpetual dissatisfaction, and now — approaching the end of my 40s when I’m in a state of extended bliss — my more fertile counterparts are now in the doldrums.
What say you on this switcheroo, readers?