Rashmi -Infertility & cultural expectations

4 children - 2 boys and 2 girls … that’s what I always thought I would have when I thought about a family. It’s funny how now when I look back, life clearly had a different plan. Those of you who know me know that I am a positive, always looking at the “upside” kinda gal, who LOVES children, but having children is one of the journeys that probably made me question that optimistic side of me sometimes.

When my husband and I got married, even though we would talk about children and our long term plans, we didn’t think it would take 10 years to have a child. We enjoyed a “fun and child free” 9 years of marriage … just the 2 of us. But I think in the back of my mind, with every birthday, I was coming to a realization that we weren’t getting pregnant and I was getting older … oh and “my eggs were dying!” Every time someone announced they were pregnant, or I was invited to a baby shower, or people told me they were having their 2nd or 3rd child, I cried inside. Of course I was over the moon for them, but I kept thinking, “why not me?!” On top of that, I had family, friends and even strangers saying things like:

“It’s your fault (you don’t have children)” … Yep, someone really did say that to me!

“When are you having children … don’t leave it too late!” … erm, no shit!

“Don’t you want children? - they are so special” … err like I don’t know that!

“Is your relationship ok?” … seriously?!?!?

“You know, if you have problems in your relationship, children will sort it out!” … I mean are you kidding me?!?!

“You know your eggs are dying?” … (sigh … face slap!)

I’m not going to lie, these comments hurt me … hard … but I am resilient and was able to rise above it.

In Indian culture, people don’t speak about infertility … we are from the land of the Kama Sutra, a culture where couples are supposed to have a child 9 months after getting married and where there is a population that is overflowing! There is a sense of shame attached to infertility. It’s also a culture where the woman is the one who is seen as “the problem” and is always asked whether and when she will be having children - often my reply would be “ask my husband!” … that soon shut people up! I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about my first part of my journey. I spoke to my best friend who was a rock and one day just woke up and thought, I’m going to see a fertility doctor. After tests and more tests, we were referred to a wonderful doctor who specialized in IVF. He was upbeat, positive and listened to my history. He was just what I needed as the person to take us through the journey. He talked me through the IVF process, drew diagrams and Mannie and I just listened. We had never thought we would be having this conversation but there we were … listening to someone telling me about the injections, drugs, tests, cycles, procedures and examinations I would have to hopefully get a baby at the end. And so the infertility journey started.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about the different details of every cycle, treatment, etc., but I wanted to share the emotional, physical and roller coaster of a journey. WHY? Well a few reasons:

I wish I had spoken more initially to others going through their journeys to get support and advice;

I realize South East Asian women and families do not talk about it … maybe because of the stigma, shame, “what will people say?!” … who knows.

What I do know is that today, through my journey, we are blessed with 2 healthy children who share my positivity in life, one of which we had at 37 and the other at 44. So regardless of what your path is, do not let others dictate what you should or should not do and stay true to yourself.

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