The following is a guest post from Kathleen, who blogs and philosophizes about marriage at Project M: Musings on Love, Marriage, and the Madness that Ensues.
I started thinking about sterility when, after ten months of trying, I still wasn’t pregnant.
I’m not just talking about human or sexual sterility here, but all kinds – sterilized foods, sterilized environments. I’m talking about all the various ways that we humans experience or try to stamp out or smother life.
See, I had been on the Pill for the last four years of my life to induce artificial fertility while I finished up school. I had never, during that time, given more than a moment’s thought to sterility or to what I was really doing. I was taking a Pill to suppress life. And I was OK with that.
I had wanted control over my reproductive system. I wanted to avoid the mess of unintended life. That’s what every woman wants who takes the Pill, right? I also wanted to be free to avoid thinking about reproduction. They told me I just had to take a little pill every day and unexpected life was out of the question. I didn’t have to think about it. I thought it was perfect.
After changing my mind and deciding that I did want to participate in life-creation, I found out quickly that my body was not primed for that. I had spent too much time trying to suppress life, and now my body was confused. I found out that it was going to take longer than I had anticipated for my body to change its mind after those four years of deliberate infertility. In fact, my body might never produce life. I don’t know yet.
Like many women in my situation, I began to look into ways of achieving fertility.
The first think I learned about was fertility awareness, or natural family planning, which can help you either avoid and achieve pregnancy. Fertility awareness involves getting to know your cycles. You have to get to know your cervical fluids and your basal body temperature and keep track of it all on paper. You have to pay close attention to your reproductive system. You have to develop a mindset that is completely contrary to the contraceptive way of thinking.
Fertility awareness is messy. Some might say it’s icky. It takes attentiveness and a high esteem for bodily fluids and other yucky things we don’t like to think about. And that’s why most women don’t want to use fertility awareness as a method of birth control: you have to embrace the natural, messy rhythms of life. And we don’t like messiness. We prefer to produce life in a sanitary, sterilized environment, where we can control everything with pills and capsules and antiseptics.
Then I started learning about nutrition from Naturally Knocked Up. I learned all about what I need to promote fertility: things like good bacteria, fermented foods and raw foods. In short, I learned about foods that still had life in them. I learned that in North America we’re over-sterilizing our food, to the point where there’s little nutritional value left.
I learned about eating other icky things, like organs and fat and skin, about sprouting and cultivating and fermenting. I learned about boiling my own bone broth and eating raw egg yolks and all kinds of things that we are told are gross. I learned that real nutrition takes work. It takes attentiveness and a high esteem for the kinds of food we’re taught to turn up our noses at.
And then it started to dawn on me. We’re a culture that is afraid of life and its consequent messiness. We’re scared of yucky things. As a society, we have learned to kill everything we can’t control.
We Westerners learned that some bacteria in food are bad, and so we set out to kill them all. We learned that fertility is hard to control, so we developed ways to stop it entirely. Then we developed ways to bring it back again artificially.
We decided that we wanted to be able to create life in a sterile environment. We thought that it was the safest way to do it. But in the process, we have eliminated all the things that are necessary to life: messy bodily fluids, living foods, nutrients and good bacteria.
I am started to come to the awareness that life breeds life. We can’t surround ourselves with death and expect to bring forth life. We can’t conceive new life in an environment where we’ve killed everything that scares us.
I am trying to embrace this truth. I am trying to embrace life, even the forms that scare me. Maybe in this way my body will be coaxed to participate in creating life. Until then, I want to learn all that I can.