Day 129: Desperate to Conceive? How Collective Memory Influences us Today

In the series ‘The Tudors’, the story of King Henry VIII of England is told. It shows how the King went through great lengths to declare his marriage to his first wife null and void, as ‘she had failed’ to give him a son. Where I am now in the story, he has just declared his marriage with Anne Boleyn, his second wife, null and void, for the same reason.

My partner and I had decided to have a child. Within this we had agreed to simply not try to stop it from happening, but otherwise not actively try to get the right timing, etc. As time passed, I noticed that I experienced a sense of urgency in relation to conceiving and getting pregnant, where with each following menstruation period, this urgency became more noticeable, and started being accompanied with an experience of desperation as the questionwhat if it doesn’t happen?’ I wrote several dimensions of this point as how I could relate to having created it. But it was only when watching the Tudors that I started seeing how within me I carry beliefs and ideas about what it means to be a woman that go back for centuries and form part of every woman’s collective memory. As I was watching the scenes in which Anne Boleyn miscarriages and becomes more and more desperate to conceive a son as she sees King Henry pull away from her – I became quite absorbed, like I was experiencing what she was experiencing and that this story was about me.

The series depicts how women in that time had no value unless married and had no purpose in life but to produce a child, or in case of royalty: a son, to their husband. Before marriage, they required to maintain and preserve their virginity and be an example of piety and grace, for who would want to marry a spoiled or sinful woman?

In seeing to what extent I became absorbed in the story – I started seeing how the same patterns still exist in women – and in myself – today. Where a fear exists that if a woman cannot/isn’t getting pregnant: she may lose her husband/partner and her status in society. And with this fear a depression and form of panic kicks in – because: who am I as a woman if I cannot conceive a child? Where it can feel as though one’s entire existence is threatened of being invalidated and one’s worth reduced to zero.

So – I wanted to share this perspective, since other women may go through similar experiences when conception doesn’t occur right away – where first a worry sets in and where, as time goes by, the fear slowly grows – until the urgency to conceive is felt more and more intensely.

When looking at the question ‘What if it doesn’t happen?’ to see what fears were involved, I expected to see primarily the fear of not having a child and not having this experience – but, in fact the fears that were most prominent were: What if my partner leaves me? – and: What will people think of me/how will my social status be affected? Those two questions/fears reflect what child-bearing meant for women centuries ago. In my case, for instance, my partner and I made a clear agreement that if there are children – cool, but if there are no children – also cool – and that this point does not affect our relationship and commitment to each other. In terms of fears in relation to social status – we no longer live in a day and age where a women’s sole purpose and he worth is defined in relation to having and nursing children.

So – when seeing these points, I walked a process of Self-Forgiveness to clear myself of these redundant fears that we have been carrying with us and have been passing on from generation to generation – where, these fears have no correlation to our actual lives/reality – but still affect us within creating emotional experiences that affect our behavior and experience of ourselves. Such fears very easily translate for instance into becoming obsessive about conceiving and tracking every single possible sign of pregnancy. Herein it is quite interesting to read online forums for instance where women discuss ‘early pregnancy symptoms’ – and consult each other to find out whether they could be pregnant – when everyone knows that in general one misses one’s period and then takes a pregnancy test – that is how to find out if one is pregnant. Any ‘symptom’ before this could be an indication of pregnancy or an indication that one’s period is coming up – they are the same. And yet, despite knowing and understanding this – there is still a frantic tracking of every single ‘sign’ or ‘symptom’ and to interpret it as a possible pregnancy, creating hopes and expectations that – when the periods come – result in disappointment and depression.

So – to all the women out there that are trying to conceive and have started to notice such experiences of anxiety, urgency and desperation in relation to conceiving, or such behavioral changes in becoming obsessive about finding out/predicting if one is pregnant – I would suggest to take a moment to write about the fears that you can identify by asking yourself the question: ‘What if it doesn’t happen – what if I don’t get pregnant?’ so that one can see what is driving these experiences and behavioral changes within oneself. Once you have identified the fears, you can walk a process of Self-Forgiveness to remove them. If you are not familiar with Self-Forgiveness, I suggest signing up for the Free DIP Lite course that will guide you in a step-by-step way to develop this skill and how to apply it in one’s life. From there – once the fears have been removed, I suggest speaking to one’s partner and making clear agreements so that you know where you stand. Herein – you can discuss what you agree to do in case there is a problem with fertility, or if it turns out one cannot have children. Not that this will be the case, but so that one knows what plans are in place in case such scenarios do occur. Because – it is often the ‘not knowing’ that creates a fear of it playing out. So – directing such points beforehand in having clear agreements with one’s partner enables one to approach the process of having a child in a practical and stable manner without the unnecessary emotional turmoil. If you have any questions about this process – please leave a comment!