You’d Rather Be Blind Than Infertile. Really?

I normally don’t bash people on my blog. I save that for Facebook.

Seriously, calling people names doesn’t usually accomplish anything. I also try to live by the rule “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

But in this case, the people said something so ignorant, it makes me angrier every time I think about it. I must get that anger out.

These people stated that they would rather be blind than infertile.

The blog post at Creating a Family, begins with a story of a woman stating that she would:

rather be blind because at least then treatment would be covered and people would understand what she was going through.

Then one person commented:

Yes, I would rather be blind. It is a terrible disability, but nothing compared to the despair that our infertility journey has taken us.

I never use this phrase, but never have I believed it to be so justified – Get your head out of your ass!

Being blind is nothing compared to the despair of not being able to bear children?

Nothing?

I am not now, nor have I ever been, blind. I’ve never been infertile either. Because of my CRPS, I shouldn’t have biological children, but I never wanted biological children to begin with. I admit that I don’t understand what drives people to incredible lengths to conceive, bear, and birth a child. (On the flip side, I know a lot of people who don’t understand what drives people to go through the rigorous roller coaster ride of adoption.) Because of my CRPS, I do know what it’s like to have a disability that no one sees and no one understands.

At Oracle, one of our group’s main goals was to create software that would enable other technical writers to create documentation that was accessible to blind readers. During this time, I learned a lot about the blind. For example, the blind are chronically un- and underemployed. I learned about some of the barriers blind people face every day. I heard the discrimination they face. I cannot tell you the number of times our group was told, “Well, it’s not like there are that many blind database administrators anyway.” Perhaps if the technology was more accessible, there would be more blind database administrators!

Being infertile is never going to stop a person from getting a job. Being blind will. There are many professions and career paths that are closed to blind people – anything in the graphic arts, many medical professions (would you want a blind surgeon?), anything involving driving, and how many blind actors do you know? Dancers?

What happens when an infertile person realizes she’s out of her favorite cereal? She gets in her car, drives to the supermarket. She sees that there’s construction in front of the usual entrance, so she goes to the further one. Once inside, she sees that the store has been reorganized. She goes to the new cereal aisle. She finds her cereal. She goes to the front of the store, buys it, and goes back to her car. She drives home.

What happens when a blind person realizes she’s out of her favorite cereal? Obviously, she can’t drive. She has someone who helps her with errands, but today’s not his usual day. So, she seeks out the bus schedule on her computer. (Let’s assume that the public transit people have complied with Section 508 guidelines and have made their web site accessible to people who use screen reading software.) The next bus comes in 20 minutes. She can just make it. She gets to the bus stop, gets on the bus. She asks someone nearby to tell her when the supermarket stop is coming. She gets off of the bus. She starts for the store entrance. “Hey lady!,” someone yells. She’s almost walked through the “Caution” tape and into a gaping hole in the pavement. A bit shaken, she asks for some help in going to the other entrance. Once inside, she heads for Aisle 13 and finds… pickles? She goes back up to the front of the store to ask, “Where’s the cereal?”. Now it’s on Aisle 3. She asks another shopper for assistance. He hands her the cereal. She goes back to the front of the store and pays for her cereal. She then waits for the bus.

What happens when an infertile person gives birth to a baby? It’s heralded as a miracle. Everyone cheers.

What happens when a blind person gives birth to a baby? She’s met with constant questions about whether a blind person can successfully parent a child.

Society is set up for the sighted. Being blind makes a lot of things harder. A blind person can’t do everything a sighted person can, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting that.

There are options for infertile people. Some people who experience infertility are able to pursue treatments and do have children. Jackson’s godparents are an example of such a couple. Some people pursue surrogacy or adoption. Ultimately, anyone with the drive to become a parent can find a way to become one. It may cost a lot of money. They may need to be creative. The process is not fun. It’s frustrating, disheartening, depressing. No one understands what they’re going through. There is a lot of loss and grief.

At this time, there aren’t a lot of options for blind people. Many people who are blind will never see. They will never get the privileges that the sighted take for granted. Example: If they have children, they will never really know what those children look like.

So to anyone who really believes that he or she would rather be blind than infertile, I say, “Stop your pity party.” You have got to be in a pretty sad, self-absorbed place to believe that being blind is nothing compared to being unable to bear a child. I really hope you find the help you need. I also hope you never find out that being blind is worse than being infertile.

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4 thoughts on “You’d Rather Be Blind Than Infertile. Really?

  1. I disagree that ‘it’s more difficult to be blind than infertile’. Perhaps it’d  be more difficult for you. My grandma was blind. I grew up living in her house. I learned Braille when I learned to read. She taught me that it wasn’t a struggle. Life was different. But she was a kind, generous, intelligent woman- and, naturally, people enjoyed to be around her. There is no cure for what caused her blindness. Seeing her kids’ faces, and grand kids faces didn’t matter. She saw our hearts. She had far more perspective than most seeing people. Yes, she couldn’t get in a car to go grab a box of cereal, but neither can someone without a license (I realize it’s not quite the same). Sure, she’d have loved to see, but she couldn’t. So she moved on with life as it was- and enjoyed it. The person who’d choose blindness over infertility just sees, feels and thinks differently than you. That’s ok. I’d rather be deaf than blind- my sister would rather be blind than deaf. Interestingly- she’s legally blind (corrective lenses give her sight), and I have a hearing loss. I don’t think one is a better or worse choice- it’s a matter of what I think I can cope with. Some people think they could over come the extreme hardships and ongoing obstacles that come with blindness over the emotional turmoil or emptiness they may feel from being unable to conceive, carry or birth a child. You may not relate to that, and I’m not saying I do. But each of us are wired differently, have different coping skills, and different desperations. I do, however, think its an odd thing to state (choosing blindness over infertility), and… weird, for lack of a better word… to think on it. What is is what is. No matter our situation, the better off we all are when we accept what we’ve got.

  2. as a person who has been through infertility i can say with confidence that i would NOT rather be blind that infertile. i am lucky that i came out at the end with a baby but comparing infertility and blindness is kind or ridiculous, it’s like comparing apples and oranges, they are two completely different things, so i’d have to say that i agree with you.

  3. So I work in a medical setting. In the United States blindness among the general population is the disability people fear most. Blindness is also associated with a high suicide rate for those not born with the disability. It is interesting to me that the blogger chose blindess as the disability she would prefer. Maybe because sight and fertility are taken for granted by our society. We assume that there will not be a blind programer as well as we assume when we marry that we wont be infertile.

    Although I’m not blind I had a brush with the diagnosis when I was told by my doctor that my retinas would degenerate and I likely would lose my sight in 10-15 years. So far my eyes have not continued to degenerate but I reacted the same way to being told I would be blind as when we were told we had infertility of unknown origins- I cried myself to/from work.

    I dont know which is worse but I hope I never have anything to compair infertility to. I’d never trade one for the other though.

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