Yet another hugely unbalanced human interest story off the health pages today. A woman who suffered an unusual illness the treatment for which was thought to have left her infertile has had a baby. Is this helpful? I don't think so and here's why not:
1) In this story doctors failed to identify they woman's condition for a lengthy period of time and, indeed, dismissed her as a hypocondriac. I had exactly the same experience several times at the doctors and would be really interested to see what proportion of female patients are "fobbed off" without proper testing. Actually I was once told by a male doctor that he didn't believe women who told him that taking the pill messed up their hormones, to which I, spluttering, replied "well you f*cking take it then!".
2) The doctors also failed to mention to her that the treatment they were giving her would render her infertile. Surely this doctor should be struck off! Again I've been given treatments at the doctors which I later discovered had a common side effect of "depression" without anyone mentioning the fact (despite my history of suffering).
3) The story repeatedly refers to how this woman would do "anything" to have a baby, including putting her own life at risk. Yet they never ask the question whether this is a healthy attitude and whether she had been encouraged to consider not having children or other options such as fostering or adopting a needy child.
4) Disproportionately little press coverage is given to the many women who are unable to have children, to unsuccessful IVF treatment, to years of being poked and prodded around and the stress that that puts on relationships. There is a really good article on this called "Don't fuel the baby obsession" by Germaine Greer, but I can't find it on the web, its pretty old and relates to provision of IVF treatment on the NHS.
People who have kids are really not going to say that they wish they hadn't bothered - of course not - these young people exist now and to wish they didn't would be harsh. However we need to have a society in which not having kids (now the choice of one in 5 women in the UK) is also considered healthy and normal.