Surely I’m not the only one who played the “Would You Rather Be Deaf or Blind?” game in elementary school? We always started by saying that you HAD to choose—none of this sitting on the fence, being wishy-washy, and trying to cover your bases business with us. No sir, we required commitment. Sides were drawn pretty early and opinions seldom changed, but that never stopped us from arguing the merits and demerits of our chosen disability.
I received an email from one of our Creating a Family community who described a lunch with friends where she was ranting (her word) about the cost of infertility treatment. She said she’d rather be blind because at least then treatment would be covered by health insurance and people would understand what she was going through. Talk about a conversation stopper. Her friends stared at her horrified, and one became angry that she would even think to compare infertility to a TRUE disability such as blindness. “Living without kids is not a disability like living without sight.”
So I ask you– if you HAD to choose would you rather be blind or infertile? Is a life without children a disability on par with living without sight? Or is this blasphemy as the friends thought above?
Is it Callous to Compare?
Looking back, there is a certain cringe-inducing quality to my childhood game—a bunch of able-bodied kids debating the plusses and minuses of disabilities we don’t have. Some might worry that it almost tempts fate. (Fortunately, my faith system doesn’t include a God who zaps people for such thoughts in order to teach a lesson.)
This game can certainly also be seen as callous. How dare a group of blessedly healthy, able kids debate the relative pros and cons of truly debilitating conditions. In fact, however, I believe that this game moved us toward empathy. In order to choose sides, we had to really put ourselves in the skin of someone who couldn’t see or couldn’t hear. We had to walk in their shoes to try to imagine what it would be like and then explain this to others.
Walking in the Shoes of an Infertile
That’s what I wish others would do for the infertile—really imagine what it would be like to desperately want something that comes so easy to everyone else, but eludes you. What it’s like to not be able to achieve what you’ve dreamed of since childhood.
**To save every penny to pay for treatment, possibly again and again, without any guarantee of success.
**To know that by paying for treatment, you might not be able to afford your other options for becoming parents.
**To constantly have to reassess what it is you really want out of parenthood and life, and weigh the costs-financial and emotional.
**To have a disease or a disorder that receives so little sympathy from our society and as a result so little support.
Nowadays, I hate the notion of comparing pain; which disease is worse; which condition would I rather not have; who has the worst life. I recognize that suffering is suffering, and I pray for compassion, even if I can never truly understand or imagine the pain. In my deaf vs. blind stage, I read and reread The Story of My Life and The Miracle Worker. Ms. Keller’s words are worth living by:
Although the world is full of suffering,
it is full also of the overcoming of it.
My optimism, then, does not rest on the absence of evil,
but on a glad belief in the preponderance of good
and a willing effort always to cooperate with the good,
that it may prevail.
Other Creating a Family Resources You Will Enjoy
- Do You Hide Your Infertility Struggle?
- Is Infertility Really a Disease?
- Surviving Infertility: Don’t See Life As One Big Karmic Scorecard
First published in 2012; Updated in 2018 Image credit: Sasquatch I Image credit: Cuba Gallery