Made In Your Mother’s Womb

This is going to a bit of an “out there” post, but there is something I’ve been pondering recently and I can’t get it out of my head.

If you are a woman, your eggs are created in your ovaries while you are a foetus inside your mother’s womb.

That means that I was created (in half at least) inside my grandmother.

This is an incredible thing that binds us to the females in our family more closely than perhaps we would have expected. But maybe it means even more than that.

I read a comment on a forum a few weeks ago that I can’t get out of my head. It was from a woman who had had several miscarriages and she was ranting about her own mother, who she refered to as a drug addict who could get pregnant simply by looking at a penis.

There was something about this post that stayed with me. I have always had a difficult relationship with my own mother. As an adult I can see that her parenting was heavily influenced by her own terrible upbringing, but for a very long time I have struggled with my feelings for her and how to untangle the mess they seemed to be in.

My mother abandoned me and and my brother when we were 15 and 9, to go and live with another woman. In the years prior to that she had spent a lot of her days sleeping on the sofa, staring at the washing machine while it span the clothes, and essentially ignoring her children. She was suicidal by the time I was at university (if not before – I am still suspicious of a car crash she had with a lorry before she walked out). She has been in and out of pychosis and self-absorbed for most of her life.

Now, in her late 60s, she is probably more stable, and our relationship is better than it probably ever has been, driven by a passage of forgiveness that I went through last year, and a deep appreciation, as a parent, for the horrors that she went through as a child.

My grandmother had four children (my mother was second born), and she systematically abused all of them physically and verbally for their entire childhoods. I only have the barest glimpse into what went on, but I know it included beatings, force feeding, locking up in cupboards and other horrendous acts that don’t deserve repeat here. Incredibly, my mother and her older brother stayed loyal to my grandmother until she died two years ago. The other two children are long gone and out of touch.

To me, my nan was always a friendly, and very sociable lady and I never saw her “bad” side. This itself was hard for my mother – it was like a betrayal from her own daughter (who couldn’t have known any different as a child). My mother found it hard that I loved her mother, my grandmother.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted. My point is that my mother grew up under highly adverse circumstances. Physically she is very short and she was thin as a rake until after she had children herself. In old photos she is a glamourous waif with 60s hair and a cigarette dangling from her hand.

My mum doesn’t cook. She fed us out of tins. She smoked for the entire duration of her pregnancy with me. She has never looked after herself physically.

Which brings me to my point. What if our mother’s lifestyle and diet affects the quality of our eggs?

My eggs were made in my mothers womb. She was a nervous, small, heavy smoker, probably suffering post-traumatic stress and with lifelong self-esteem issues. She didn’t understand healthy eating and even if she did, in 1974 (when I was born), the information available on what was good for us was limited and in many cases a best-guess.

The woman in the forum – the lady who had the drug addict mother – her eggs were made in an addicts womb. She was suffering recurrent miscarriage.

I suffer recurrent miscarriage, even though doctors can find nothing wrong with me.

So… (I’m making a massive leap here), could our own mothers lifestyle pre- and during pregnancy affect our own reproductive capability?

I am both frightened and relieved if this could be the case.

However, I will probably never know the answer.

8 thoughts on “Made In Your Mother’s Womb”

  1. First, I am sorry for all the trauma your family has endured.
    Second, you make an interesting observation. But as a counter point to the hypothesis, I suffer from RPL and was the third child born to a mother (and father) who did not smoke, drink, touch any form of drug, etc. I’m told on the list of modern day bad pregnancy activities, the most my mom did during any of her pregnancies was eat the odd medium-rare steak.

    • Thank you for sharing this with me – I’m actually really pleased to hear it. My biggest fear for RPL is that it is something that is totally beyond my control. I know it’s not a very scientific sample (of two! or three, if you count the anonymous person I don’t know on a forum) but it does allay my fears of some horrible legacy from my mother’s own bad experiences passed on down. I think the trouble with RPL is you become so analytical, so obsessive about cause and affect, that it can be difficult to see things as innocent and unconnected. In a way, I posted this wanting to hear this exact thing. I know there is a reason for all of what we are going through (I can’t believe it’s just statistics and we are just outliers), but science just isn’t there yet, and for someone with a scientific thought process, it’s a hard thing to accept.

      • You are right, 3 people might not be enough to call it scientific, but I completely understand you desire to find a reason. We have struggled so much with this, as we too are very scientific people who both make a living off of providing solutions to complex problems. I think not understanding the “why” has been so incredibly hard for us, maybe one of the hardest things for us to accept. Heck, it’s part of why we flew across the content and went out of country.

  2. Wow, that is a really interesting hypothesis, Rose. As you say, there probably won’t be evidence one way or the other, but it certainly seems to make sense that the lifestyle/activity of the mother before and during pregnancy would have physical implications for the children (male and female).

  3. Absolutely fascinating proposition and one that should be researched more by a medical professional if you ask me. I’d love to see some data on this. Unfortunately it wouldn’t help me all that much. My mum never smoked, barely drank and ate lots of vegetables! But it would be interesting to know the impact our lifestyle has on our potential grandchildren. It must have something to do with it. Fascinating! Love your brain, Rose, love it!

  4. Interesting. I’ve only suffered one mc, but have only two BFPs out of one full ivf and 14 IUIs, so a wee bit of a challenge for my eggs to want to cooperate. My mother, to my knowledge, has never done anything extreme in terms of substance abuse or (mal)nutrition, but probably smoked before pregnancy and gained so little weight during her pregnancy with me that she fit into her tiny, tight jeans right after having me. My pharmacist volunteered a story to me about his friend who had rpl, and her doctor had prescribed 100% bed rest for her entire pregnancy. She went on to give birth to a perfectly healthy baby, and now that baby is a Harvard graduate. I’m not sure what he was trying to get at, but I guess it kinda shows that from stories of peoples experiences that we never get the full picture. We get only what they chose to share. Hard to draw any conclusions…

    • It is. And the human body is so complex too. Meh. I just don’t know. When you’re desperate for information you start to see patterns that aren’t even really there.

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