I could not be a Mother and it brought me shame
In my childhood, I had many dolls and like with most of us, I was the mother to all my dolls. I think when we see our mothers nurture us, we, in turn, wish to nurture as well and at that time we knit fantasies and an ideal future around the one we wish to nurture- our child. We play those fantasies, those dreams with the dolls, knowing that one day we will be mothers too.
As life went on, and I stopped playing with my dolls, I learnt a lot about the world. I learnt a few things about parenting. I got married to the love of my life- Jai. Jai and I had common friends who got married and we happened to make couple friends. Gradually our friends started having babies. And I wanted my own.
Jai felt we weren’t ready yet.
But looking at their babies and listening to their conversations of how raising a child was both the easiest and ironically also the most difficult job and thinking the miracle, that it is, bringing a child into this world, bringing MY child- I had heard, time and again that this feeling was majestic for the want of a better word. So we were excited and we decided to try.
We tried to have a child for a year and a half, without success. I knew it takes time but my patience was running out and I went and consulted my Gynaecologist. She had us both go through a few tests and the result shattered me- I couldn’t be a mother. She suggested I look into treatments and other alternatives as an option- medications that regulate ovulation to surgical procedures to treat endometriosis, for example, and assisted conception, which may be intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in vitro fertilization (IVF). Another alternative was to adopt.
On the way home, my life was flashing in front of my eyes- my mother nurturing me, playing with the dolls as my children, nurturing my pets over the years, babysitting and playing and taking care of my nieces and nephews, Jai and my conversations about our future with multiple pairs of twins, playing and taking care of our friends’ children, my friends saying I would be a good mother- now I couldn’t...
I was in tears by now. And then horror struck me, our friends knew we were trying, they knew we met with a Gynaecologist. What would I tell them? How would they react? I wasn’t fit to be a mother...
I needed some quiet for the things I was thinking. Thoughts were flashing in my mind at the speed of lightening... My relationships- what my family would say and what Jai’s family would say, they had been very supportive of our love marriage so far but what now... My family, my cousins, his family, his cousins and Jai.
I just realized it had been too quiet.
Jai, I looked at him he also had thoughts flashing across his face. What does he think? Am I not good enough for him anymore? Does he not want to be with me anymore? I wouldn’t blame him if he didn’t, I wouldn’t wanna be with me. But I love him, how would I live without him? He looked back after a while and I looked down, ashamed. I couldn’t face him anymore.
He understood, I think, and made an effort to talk. He asked me how I felt, I didn’t know. I felt sad, anxious even, guilty, not good enough, angry, alone, hurt, frustrated, confused, incomplete- like a part of me was missing. I could feel my dreams, my future shattering right in front of me. I stood and stared while falling apart.
In the days to come, things got worse. Jai and I stopped communicating, I stopped talking to our friends, our parents, our families. The house was quiet. I took a day off, and soon enough the day turned into a week, a week into a month. I had stopped getting out of the bed, I stopped cooking, stopped eating much, I had even stopped sleeping...
The entire day I would stare at the ceiling. When Jai came home I would turn away and pretend to sleep. He would also lie next to me and sleep. Nothing to talk about. I was not good enough, not worth anything, my future seemed bleak, no one could help me. My office called, they warned me that if I don’t make it to office they would have to let me go. That night after Jai slept I looked at him.
Lying here basking in my grief wasn’t helping my relationship, it was only maintaining the distance that was created. I wasn’t even fighting to save us, I had already given up, almost as if waiting for the inevitable to happen. No. I’m going to get up and I’m going to fight this. But how?
My gynaecologist had given me the reference of a Life Coach. I think it was time to use it.
My Life Coach asked me why I wanted a child, I replied my friends have children and I always wanted to have children someday, to nurture them. I was then asked but what do “I” want right now, do I want a child in the near future and I didn’t. I just wanted to belong with my friends.
Together, we outlined what I was going through for the last one month
1. I was suggested treatments and other alternatives
2. I was sad that my dreams and fantasies for the future may never happen
3. I was worried about our families and our friends and what they would say and how they would judge me
4. I was worried about us, Jai and me
a) When we talked about the future, I was worried that he wouldn’t want to be with me
b) We weren’t talking to each other at all
c) Was it just me or had we both given up on this relationship altogether
5. My feelings- I felt sad, anxious, guilty, not good enough, angry, alone, hurt, frustrated, confused, incomplete
6. My work was getting affected
And narrowed these down to the following categories:
1. Physiological- In terms of treatments and other alternatives,Resources involved in the treatment- financial as well as time, side-effects of the treatment, possibility that it may or may not help
2. My thoughts and feelings- my plans for the future, guilt, self-blame, self-esteem, self-worth, anger, sadness, loneliness etc.
3. My relationship
4. My social life and
5. My work
I was explained:
1. My thoughts and feelings
1It is normal to experience a sense of loss, to feel extremely sad, to be stressed, frustrated, angry and confused. I may not have lost someone but I may have lost the chance of ever having someone who was supposed to be there. Someone who was meant to be my flesh and blood, to be a part of me.
2. It was not my fault. It was biological in nature. There is nothing I did wrong which may have led to this and there is nothing I could have done differently so that this didn’t happen. It is important to find a way to not blame myself.
3. It’s okay to feel how I’m feeling. I need to allow myself to feel these strong emotions, and if possible- when I feel ready and comfortable- to share them with someone supportive towards me.
2. My Social Life
1. It can be heartbreaking to notice all the happy mothers or pregnant women around you everywhere, who have what I am desperate for.
So I should allow myself- without feeling bad- to say no to activities that may involve other babies or children unless I am ready.
2. Society often fails to recognize the grief caused by infertility, so people struggling to conceive tend to hide their sorrow, which only increases feelings of shame and isolation.
3. Friends and family mean well when they ask about your plans for parenthood. They may not know you're having fertility problems or, if they do, want to know how things are going. Nevertheless, having to respond to these questions can be painful. You might answer simply, "I'm working on it," or "I'll let you know when I have news."
4. If you're comfortable talking about your fertility problems with someone and you wish to be open about it, talking about what you're going through can be a huge relief.
3. My Relationship
1. Jai might be going through his own turmoil of emotions which he may or may not want to share with anyone. However, being in your own cocoon, in a different dimension and leaving each other alone in this time where both of us need each other's support- would not help. It is extremely important to include him in my thoughts, my feelings, my decisions and our judgements.
2. I didn’t realize it but somehow I had started blaming him, for not being supportive, for not telling me that everything was still fine, that he still loved me, that we would face this together. It is important to not blame each other, if he didn’t say these- neither did I. He tried to bridge the gap on the ride back home, I went into my cocoon- didn’t even give him a chance. I was the hindrance in his bridge. And it was my turn now to approach him... to build the bridge.
3. Once the bridge was built, whatever decisions, efforts resources would be required, it was important for us to work as a team and to give each other support.
4. Most fertility treatments would require me to have intercourse at very specific times, which would make it more of a chore than a pleasure. If I find my intimate life deteriorating, and I or we miss the romance, taking a break from the treatment regimen for a month or two and trying to rekindle the love and sense of fun that brought you together in the first place can be a good idea.
1. I was explained that the physical demands of fertility treatments, including blood tests, pills, daily hormone injections, ultrasounds, egg retrievals, and surgery, can be a source of stress and emotional upheaval.
2. While undergoing fertility treatment, I might have to live in month-to-month cycles of hope and disappointment that revolve around ovulation calendars and menstruation.
3. A tight schedule of tests and treatments can lead to placing life on hold – postponing vacations, putting off education, and even disrupting careers. The sorrow, anger and frustration from dealing with prolonged fertility problems invade every area of life, eroding self-confidence and straining friendships.
4. Realizing and accepting that you will have some ups and (most likely) many downs as you deal with your fertility problem. Reflect on your commitment to becoming a parent
5. Even in the best of times, financial concerns exert enormous pressure on relationships. Factor in an intense, frustrated desire to have a child plus the high cost of fertility treatments, and the tension over money can be unbearable.
6. Force yourself to face facts about finances, hard as that may be. Allowing yourself to be carried away by the desire to have a child is easy, but finances require rational thinking. Set a limit on what you can spend. And how much time you wish to spend in treatment.
Letting go of a dream is difficult, and the variety of medical technologies available today lead many people to keep trying month after month, year after year. But about a third of women treated for fertility problems won't bring a baby to term and often must make peace with that before they can move on with their lives.
Pursuing treatment, adopting a child, or accepting a life without children are highly individual decisions, and the timing differs for everyone.
However, most important is to first make sure that you will come out strong and healthy, on the other end of this emotional rollercoaster. It is important to stay positive and to not forget to work on your well-being and happiness.
Me and my husband had a long conversation and decided we weren’t ready yet to be parents and when we were, we would be comfortable with adoption. There is a child out there who needs to be nurtured, and when we are ready to provide that love and care, we would find ourselves our daughter.