My Struggle with Infertility
Ladies, please spare a minute before you innocuously blurt out, “When’s the good news?”
For those of you who have no idea about the good news that I am talking about, it’s not about passing an exam with an A grade, nor is it about a new job in a top-notch company. For Indian women, the “good news” is about their ability to accomplish two things in life: getting married, and announcing the D day.
If you are married, when are you planning to get pregnant? It’s a very casual, spontaneous question directed at someone who is already having a hard time trying to conceive—and it’s made within earshot of the other ladies around, so it’s more than a social faux pas.
When you scale all the horrible things in life, infertility/inability to conceive ranks galaxies away from the worst. I loved kids. After marriage, when I was all set to have one, I thought it would happen naturally and didn’t want to work to have them.
Six months went by. There were no signs of pregnancy, and people suggested that I consult a gynecologist. The negative pregnancy tests didn’t wreck me in the first few months. I read many articles to convince myself and justify my thinking that it sometimes took months. In fact, I was so excited. I was obsessively googling all the early pregnancy symptoms, and I believed on many occasions that every twinge and niggle I felt was a sign of being pregnant.
Two weeks of every month for over the next year posed a kind of torture, and I grew jittery as I waited to see if things had worked out that month, avoiding all the foods that the family and friends suggested I stay away from. But the double line in the pregnancy kit never appeared. Those were the darkest months, the months of realizing that this might not happen as I’d thought.
I felt scared and furious at the same time. Sadly, in a society like ours, to redeem your existence, to establish your femininity, and to prove that your life is worth living, you need to deliver the “good news” as soon as you are married. Everything else you achieve and accomplish remains inconsequential!
There were stories of super-fertile moms that I had to patiently listen to. These moms had a delight in expressing how fast they got pregnant. I started feeling left out, lonely, depressed, and pained—everything that I felt I would never go through at that point in my life. As I witnessed the euphoria of women who had just delivered, I compared their bodies with mine, thinking how my body had betrayed me and how their bodies were built specifically to accomplish one thing that I couldn’t. I felt far apart from my friends, as they embarked on a new phase of life that I could only imagine.
Every baby I met was a constant reminder of what I desperately wanted, but didn’t have. I even reduced the time I spent talking to friends who had kids and sometimes avoided attending ceremonies with pregnant moms, as I knew they’d be discussing the arrival of their bundle of joy. My body had not betrayed just me, but also my husband and everyone in the family, as they had to patiently endure all the questions and advice on what we were supposed to do and what not to.
I avoided attending family gatherings, functions, and occasions with my husband. Not that he considered me inauspicious or inferior; in fact, he had to convince me every time that I was normal like any other woman. I know he had hard days wiping away my tears after someone inquired about the status of the process in progress at such gatherings. As we approached the one-year mark, I was more anxious that I would be labeled infertile.
The once outgoing, confident girl had to hide behind walls because her inability to conceive called into question her very existence. My husband remained calm and composed, and it was he who was constantly tried to bring back the charm in my life. He told me often that we were together on the journey and assured me that I would not be left out just because I couldn’t deliver the good news in time. We started traveling to have some peace of mind, and it later turned out to be our routine.
We packed our lives into a backpack and wandered through mighty glaciers, lofty mountains, and turquoise beaches for the next few months, taking a break from all the follicular studies, scans, and medicines. I realized that life was about much more than having a kid. I felt refreshed. I was all set for the next phase of treatments. All the scans and blood reports suggested that I ovulate and that I was still fertile enough to conceive. It was in the third cycle of medicines that I conceived, and words could never do justice to how it felt when the good news came in.
So ladies, when you are craving to ask someone, “When’s the good news?”—pause for a minute and remember you could be asking this to someone who is already in silent pain, due to the trauma of miscarriage or because they’re having a tough time conceiving, that you have no idea about.
Don’t feel bad when your friend who’s struggling to conceive doesn’t make it to your baby shower. Trust me, it hurts just walking past the baby section at the malls. Don’t complain about your pregnancy or your kids to her. I am sure she is prepared to do anything to be in your shoes. Don’t take it personally that she isn’t too excited when she finds out that you are pregnant. She is probably anxious and wondering why she is unable to. Don’t ask her if she is pregnant every time she’s sick. This just puts what-if thoughts in her head, and she might be shattered in the upcoming week!
How I wish I could’ve handled that better! So to all the women out there having a tough time with conception, I know it hurts—but the best thing to do is to embrace this phase. You’re no less a woman just because you couldn’t deliver the good news on time. Cherish your vision, dreams, desires, and aspirations, as they are the children of our lives. Move confidently in the direction of your own goals and dreams. Live and lead a life anybody else can only dream about! Trust me, these are your ultimate achievements!