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The Fertility Closet: Guest Post by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Book Cover How to Get a Girl Pregnant

Great Aunt Margaret whispered it to me once on a summer afternoon in her apartment. She was in her early nineties by then, and had been more of a grandma to us than our “real” ones. She and Uncle Milo always hugged us, told us they loved us, kept toys at their home for us to play with, cooked turkeys, baked persimmon pudding.

“You know,” she says sipping her tea, “we tried. We tried for years,” she shrugs, “But doctors didn’t know all the stuff they do now.”

I can barely pull my eyes up to make contact with hers. I always wanted to know why she didn’t have kids, given her joy at spending time with us and with the neighborhood kids. I’d asked around the family but nobody seemed to know. Nobody had ever talked about it with her.

“Of course the problems must’ve been from his side of the family, not ours” she chuckles and I see the familiar twinkle in her eyes return.

Her confession came a decade before I hit the fertility market, but her soft words stuck with me. I was sad for my Great Aunt Margaret who had been so generous to her (grand) nephews and nieces, but couldn’t have a baby, and hadn’t adopted. I was sad that it was such a secret, something others gossiped about.

I came to understand just how profoundly silence can shape the …

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