Last week I was in Chicago on business and stayed an extra two days with K there. Overall it was a mixed week between work and the vacation. Both started well and finished on shakey ground. The vacation part is what I’ll share in this post and a part two to follow on another trigger.
Our last day in Chicago was spent mostly at the Field Museum. For those who are planning to visit Chicago, I highly recommend spending half a day there. There were many interesting exhibits to learn from though I’ll say the 1893 World’s Fair exhibit was disappointing. I expected more pieces on the technology at that World’s Fair. But that wasn’t where I was triggered.
The last exhibit we saw at the museum was on the Evolving Planet. By the name it’s easy to guess it was about evolution and the different stages our planet has gone through with life and climate change. Even though most of it I already knew from what they taught in school it was really cool to see….for the most part. In covering each of the stages our planet has gone through with life and climate the change to the next stage is marked by a mass extinction where the majority of life on earth became extinct.
While I was walking through this exhibit I started to think about my how me being born without the ability to produce sperm and thus unable to produce a child it has made me an “evolutionary reject”. The blood line that created me will stop at me. I will not be able to live onto future generations. When I die nothing from me will be passed down. It made me sad to think about it and how there is nothing I can do about it.
Those thoughts led me to think about something a woman by the name of Alana Newman talks about in her advocacy work for donor conceived children and against reproductive technologies. For those who don’t know Alana is a woman who was donor conceived. Her story is a very sad one but one that I think can be learned from rather than dismissed.
In a particular piece she wrote advocating against reproductive technologies being used by people she discusses the idea of people wanting children to achieve immortality. Taking it a step further she explains that there are two different types of immortality: genetic and memetic. Genetic Immortality is pretty self explanatory. Memetic Immortality has nothing to do with genetics and everything to do with passing on social values or advancements onto future generations. She uses the examples of people like Leonardo Da Vinci as someone who didn’t have kids who had memetic immortality.
The piece almost seemed as if she was trying to convince infertiles and other people unable to have a genetic child that they didn’t need to have kids to become immortal. As if we all have the ability to become Leonardo Da Vinci…..LOL. But then when she finished off the piece with the line that
it really bothered me. This is coming from a woman who was easily able to have children. With the work she’s done for the donor conceived she already had memetic immortality. So if memetic immortality is so wonderful and a lock to living on after we die without having children, then why did Alana decide to have children? Maybe it’s because the the chances of achieving memetic immortality without having children is very rare.
Maybe Alana is right that immortality isn’t an entitlement but it’s something that drives us to have children including herself. And coming from someone who was able to have children easily, it’s insulting to someone like myself who isn’t able to. When you feel like an evolutionary reject who was too weak to pass on it future generations it drives you to pursue alternative ways to parenthood. It doesn’t make me or other infertiles bad people, it makes us human.
Feeling like an evolutionary reject is a natural reaction to infertility. It weakens your self esteem by convincing yourself that you aren’t a good enough person to live on. There is a reason you weren’t meant to live on. That is what got in my head during this trigger and it isn’t the first time I’ve had these thoughts. I know I’m not the only person who is infertile who has felt this way and it’s triggers when you least expect it that bring out these feelings.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only trigger I experienced during this trip to the Chicago Field Museum. I’ll discuss that in Part II……….