As a 21st-century feminist, of course I don’t believe a woman’s worth is determined by her ability to reproduce. Having a child isn’t the defining aspect of female identity – womanhood means so much more than motherhood. Yet I feel like a failure as a woman because I can’t have children. My own sense of self-worth is inextricably intertwined with my inability to get or stay pregnant.
The very definition of female is “of or denoting the sex that can bear offspring”. And I can’t do that. What’s the point of having ovaries, a womb and breasts if I can’t use them as nature intended? Getting my period is a monthly reminder of my reproductive potential – and failure. My uterus is defective, ergo I am defective.
The toxic legacy of infertility is that my identity has become binary: I am either infertile or I am a mother. Everything else has faded into the background, my sense of self-esteem superseded by my sense of inadequacy.