‘Any good news?’ #InfertilityNotATaboo

Image courtesy of Areeya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Areeya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Any good news?”

How insensitively and unempathetically almost all of us subject a newly wed woman to this question without even trying to imagine the emotional turmoil she may or may not have been going through.

A love marriage among two individuals from different sections of the society and different regions of the country is itself a grave sin enough to target them to life-long accusations and abuses.

I was already being cursed day and night and to add to it I myself got into this situation. A colleague at work gave up his first son, a boy, for adoption to his childless elder brother and sister-in-law. Later his wife could not conceive at all and fell into depression. I happened to discuss this with ‘my people’ at my ‘new home’.

“Won’t you give your child to your brother-in-law if he doesn’t happen to have one of himself?”, she asked.

“No, Maa. I’ll not. Instead I’ll help them adopt a child.”, I responded.

Then it was a shower of abuses like ‘may you not become a mother at all‘ and ‘may you deliver a still-born baby’. 

This was just the beginning (in the very first month) of our marriage. Months later, when this mental torture went on beyond control, the husband finally decided to move out. But by then my 22-year old self was already affected enough, mentally and physically.

A year later I was experiencing terrible cramps in my lower abdomen and the doctors from a nearby clinic treated me again and again for stomach infection till about three months later when the pain was absolutely unbearable and I couldn’t afford to move an inch without help.

Any good news?”, asked every other colleague. I know it wasn’t to hurt me or depress me because none of them were aware of what emotional trauma I was going through on the personal front. And knowing them I am sure they did not even intend to hurt me ever.

We visited various doctors, various pathological labs, ultrasound centers and the likes. This was when my interest in medical field especially cancer related terms came to my rescue (I still believe that it was good that I was the one who was the first in my family to know what I was suffering from. ‘Growing mass of endometrium’, ‘carcinoid’, ‘carcinoma’, CgA, CA 125 and High risk HPV, DNC and FNAB (Fine-needle aspiration biopsy). These were terms I had learned through the Medical Reference Library 4 Book Box Set By Time that I procured for my Medical Entrance Examinations preparation. One look at the reports and I knew it.

Hospital visits, second and third opinions were sought. The worst was my visit to the Lady Hardinge Hospital. The way the nurses and doctors there treat you or talk to you itself is uncalled for. Or may be I wasn’t used to such filthy street language. ‘Tera marad paas aata hai to dukhta hai kya?‘ To add to it was the lack of privacy. You’re undergoing a TVS (trans-vaginal sonography) and there are 30-40 females (nurses and patients) and some male attendants peeping in from all possible corners. I was at a loss of words. This is where I came to know that I have also had one or two chemical pregnancies (early miscarriages/abortions). I was not afraid of getting operated but I could not accept that atmosphere. It pains to know that this is all that most percentage of India’s population can afford. I spoke to my husband and all I said was I don’t want to get admitted here even if I end up dying.

Then Dr. Kamal Buckshee came to my rescue at Apollo Hospital, New Delhi. Trust me, I used to hate doctors by the time I reached her. She told me everything was alright and under control and I remember having shouted back at her with a ‘Can you stop telling me lies?’

Within four days, I was laporatomically (not laparoscopy) operated for the removal of a 2.7 kgs chocolate cyst (endometrial cancer) and non-malignant ovarian cysts. The left ovary underwent ovarioplasty and the left fallopian tube was partially opened using hysterosalpingogram. This is a procedure in which radiographic dyes are injected into the tubes and as they push through, they open the blocked tube. My right fallopian tube was (is) totally blocked and could not be opened at all.

This was a time when I was highly depressed and my gynaecologist put me on anti-depressants along with hormonal  steroids for about two years. From 49 kilograms at the time of my marriage, I reached 73 kilograms. All thanks to these drugs. People chose to comment on my increasing weight and my protruding belly. ‘Koi khush khabari hai?’, ‘humein sab pata hai’….I did not react.

Back home, more than worrying about my medical condition people were worried that my husband might have had to spend all that amount on my surgery and the hospital stay. ‘Mere bete ka khaa gayi’ was the response I received the day after I joined office after two months. Luckily I was working and had a medical insurance which took care of the surgery and the post surgery expenses for two months. And my parents along with my husband stood like strong pillars of support for me. I did not bother to disclose any of this to her because I had enough of it all and had no more patience or energy to go through another round of abuses and accusations. I’ll always be grateful for my man and my parents.

Now that the operation was over it was back to ‘Any good news?’

Banjar zameen ho tum. Ek dum bekaar!‘ (Barren land you are. Totally useless!), she screamed at me at my office number. A Product Manager’s desk. Which made me imagine the condition of those suffering females who are not independent and are not educated. That was the last call I had picked of hers before becoming a mother.

I was one of the few lucky ones who reacted positively to treatment after two years and conceived naturally. But all through my journey from bed number 3309 to 3305 to 3304 of the gynecological ward of Apollo Hospital I have witnessed the pain and agony that most females fighting infertility go through. More than the pain what hurts is the insult and the disrespectful behaviour. A furniture at home is treated much more gracefully than a live human being suffering infertility.

Is it our fault if a certain organ of our body misbehaves or a certain system in our body decides to work against the natural cycle?

Will they treat their sons in the same manner if they were the ones suffering from such an ailment?

Will they treat their own daughters like this if they suffered in the same manner?

Those words. Those accusations. They still ring in my ears from time to time and make me wake up in the middle of the night.

I also take this opportunity to clear some myths about Endometriosis.

Endometrial cancer is a cancer that arises from the endometrium (the lining of the uterus or womb). It is the result of the abnormal growth of cells that have the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. The first sign is most often vaginal bleeding not associated with a menstrual period. Other symptoms include pain with urination or sexual intercourse, or pelvic pain. Endometrial cancer occurs most commonly after menopause.

(Information Source: Wikipedia)

The simple description is that endometriosis is a condition in which the glandular tissue that normally lines the uterine cavity appears in other places, such as the lining of the pelvis, fallopian tubes, ovaries, or bowel. Rarely the uterine glands can end up in really weird places, like the lung, bladder or kidney.

(Information Source: Everyday Health)

Myths about Endometriosis

  • Endometriosis is not restricted to obesity and lethargy. I was lean, thin and absolutely active.
  • It occurs because of drug misuse like birth control pills. I had never used any medicines other than paracetamol, dispirin/saridon and a few anitobiotics that they prescribed for stomach infection in my life before getting detected with this disease.
  • It occurs in people with high blood pressure and high diabetes. I did not have any of these conditions before my pregnancy.
  • Endometriosis occurs in females wearing tight clothes. I have never worn tight-fitting clothes ever in my life.
  • Women with endometriosis are usually infertile. I am a living example to prove this wrong.
  • And no, reading about endometriosis or any other diseases does not make you suffer from them. My mother believes I suffered it because of reading too much about cancer.

DISCLAIMERI am not a certified medical practitioner and hence I would still request all of you to seek medical help and not take any of this content as basis for diagnosis.

I am now a mother of two little daughters. Absolutely blessed! But if you ask me if I ever wanted children, all I can say is I have no idea. No one gave me the time or chance to even decide whether I wanted to be a mother or not. I truly cannot imagine my life without the girls but I would still say we don’t owe our existence to having children. If I were childless I would have gone for adoption and I know my man would have supported me in that too irrespective of whether anyone else in the family did or not. Or may be we would have chosen to remain childless. But the accusations, abuses and threatening had all affected us negatively. Yes. Us. Watching your wife suffer does spoil the husband’s health. I have seen it all.

There are many in our country who are childless. Many who are ready to adopt but don’t have their families support. Many who are still suffering silently. #Infertility is a disease like any other but people have made it sound like a sin. Nobody openly talks about it. There are options available for infertility treatment. But there are also people minting money targeting this disease and the patients. If we talk about it openly and share our experiences others might find a ray of hope or might be able to get the right medical treatment. Even if the treatment doesn’t work they’ll at least not feel alone.

So the next time you feel like asking someone ‘Any good news?‘, please control your self and instead wish them a good day and good health.

And by the way, if you thought that my problems got solved because I was now a mother, let me tell you that you were wrong. You missed noticing that I had delivered two girls….not the waaris or the kul ka deepak.

It wasn’t easy for me to write this post. Nevertheless, for a cause I managed it.

Suggested Reading:

Myths and misconceptions in endometriosis

Top 10 B.S. Myths About Endometriosis

15 Myths about Endometriosis

Living with Endometriosis

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This blog is to #SpreadAwareness about Infertility through Infertility Dost, India’s first website that facilitates couples to brave infertility with support and knowledge. You can find other links  on Write Tribe.

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37 thoughts on “‘Any good news?’ #InfertilityNotATaboo

  1. I am so sorry you had to go through the pain you did, Rekha. Nobody should have to put up with that kind of abuse. Nobody. I know the pain you’ve been through but still reading it all again made my eyes tear up. Big hugs and thank you for adding your voice to an important subject. May the world change. May more people read this and understand that there is no shame in infertility. May they seek treatment for better health and happiness first and foremost.

    Big big big hugs!

    • I haven’t cried this much in ages, Shailaja. Writing this was really difficult. I have bared my soul out enough but I never ever spoke of this treatment on any public platform. This was like a dark secret within me. My family would also read this. And I don’t know if I am scared or worried about it. Big hugs to you too.

  2. Very brave attempt, Rekha….. and well written!… I have seen many childless couples leading a happy life, finding happiness in other things of life…pity those who still in this age consider infertility or not bearing a son, a sin!

    • Absolutely true, Reshmi! People find their own ways to be happy if only people let them be themselves. Unfortunately this sick mentality is still very much active in our own generation and not just the previous generations. It’s a long way to go before our own kind stops throwing stones our way.

  3. Big hugs to you Rekha for writing this post and writing it bravely. The ‘good news?’ part, the curses and abuses, the pain of going through the medical treatments – there is so much to put up with on the part of a woman. All this leaves scars on one’s soul for life
    For me, who has gone through what is not even 30% of your life’s account, it is difficult for me to write about those times of mine because it would find me in troublesome waters with respect to my MIL and even husband. Standing alone, it would amount to reprimands and calling guilty of bringing bad name to the family. I have never looked back. I suffer from PCOD and had my son through IUI. As you have mentioned about money-minting infertility clinics, I had a friend who was in a similar situation as mine and who could not afford the expensive treatment of Apollo Hospital (which I was blessed to get). I wanted to help her by giving her details and cautions. But, she could not open up due to the state of depression. The clinic, she was visiting in West Delhi, offered inexpensive IUI procedures and conducted 3 procedures on her. After the 3rd procedure, she changed the doctor and was diagnosed with blocked Fallopian tubes. A test that had to be mandatory before the 1st procedure was skipped for business.

    • Each of us have and are going through our share of challenges, pains and struggles. There is no comparison.

      ” it is difficult for me to write about those times of mine because it would find me in troublesome waters with respect to my MIL and even husband. Standing alone, it would amount to reprimands and calling guilty of bringing bad name to the family.”

      This is there for me too. But I don’t care about it anymore. I have lost almost one and a half decades trying to mend the relationships. And what I finally understood is that I was only hurting myself by getting into the same situation again and again. I never reply back because I hate getting into meaningless arguments. But now I walk out because I don’t like my girls having to witness those unpleasant situations.

      And there are many clinics that provide these treatments with just money on their mind. The recent example being the woman from Hyderabad who went into coma during the procedure.

  4. Rekha, I appreciate you sharing such deeply personal thoughts and experiences. Thanks to your bravery, more women will be able to open up about their own struggles and even if they don’t, will know that there are many who suffer their plight and that they are not alone. Kudos for being able to stand up to your beliefs and staying strong with regard to in-laws for your daughters. I don’t know what I would have done.

    • Suchitra, the day my firstborn was born I cried for hours. The man was abroad on an official trip. I can’t tell you the kind of fear I had for this woman from day one. She came to the hospital after my sister-in-law and brother-in-law forced her to and the way she met us and the words she said for the first child in both the families will remain with me forever. That day I had pledged that come what may I will not let this happen to me anymore. I will not let my child witness anything of this sort. But unfortunately she witnessed some of it and was shocked for days. That is when I decided not to force them to visit her. It has to be their choice. I guess when we become mothers there’s that extra ounce of strength or bravery that comes along and makes you do everything for the sake of the child.

      • Glad you survuved in all odd balls thrown at you. I really appreciate your strength and courage in getting out of it. My regards to your man and your family. Felt heart warming in getting connected with such good hearted people liike you, Rekha. My love to your two cute angels. Your words are always powerful. Whenevr life gets tougher, one may reach to your words for hope, faiith and courage. Keep writing and spread your positive vibes around wherever you are. And I wish you should win this #InfertilityNotATaboo contest. Stay happy and Stay loved, Rekha !!!

  5. So painful your journey has been Rekha….It is heart-breaking even to read through the whole post without feeling the agony you have suffered from. And yes, two daughters and that stereotypical mindset that will not give respite even after the ‘good news’. I just want to tell you that you are a strong woman and a living example for your daughters. Help them grow into strong individuals who have respect for who they are, irrespective of the hopeless society we are part of.

  6. So proud of you that you spoke out. I cannot. Don’t have the strength to talk about it and then fish out the details to so called friends.
    Infertility is a horror for anyone but Indian girls live it more vividly since family members are almost never supportive.
    Hugs, tons of good wishes to your girls.

    • Thank you, Inderpreet! I understand when you say you cannot speak out. I have been able to because I have stopped caring about what they feel. I care too much and was taken for granted. Now I don’t care at all. I at least ended up with a positive life. Can’t even imagine what happens to those who weren’t as lucky.

  7. Rekha, so sorry to read what you went through. I have seen close friends and some relatives go through this. At times, like you mentioned, people may ask because they are just asking normally unaware of your emotional trauma or struggle. I’ve seen this pretty commonly with people. They will say something without thinking. I wish things were not this hard on women. I really wish people would be more supportive and emphathetic.

    • People don’t bother to think of the effects of their words and actions on others. That’s what troubles me. For them it’s just a word or a sentence. And they coolly say they didn’t mean it. But the one who listens never gets out of its effects. They aren’t painless enough to be erased easily.

  8. Rekha, it was such difficult times. If I had known you then, I would have been with you like a rock. No one, absolutely no one should pass judgement. And your husband has truly walked the talk and supported you in bad times. So good that you are so happy now.

  9. Gosh! So sorry for what you had to go through. Shocking and yet something that a part of the life of many women in India. People assume that making babies after wedding is the ultimate aim in life and based on that, they are always asking these questions. They want to be the first to know the good news.

  10. Oh My God…..I shudder to think what you may have gone through. The apathy is heartbreaking. But glad that you stood strong. You are an inspiration. God bless your girls. They are lucky to have a mom like you.

  11. I cannot stop myself cursing the cruel people involved. I am so Sorry.But what you did truly needs courage. We as women need to change our perspective and start respecting womanhood irrespective of Kid’s presence. My blessings and love with you.

    • I have passed that phase of cursing the toxic people. I am now at peace with myself. Fifteen years it took me to reach this stage. The only regret is I lost my prime years and health to this crap.

  12. Pingback: #Friends: The Quintessential Must-Haves | Dew Drops

  13. Hugs Rekha. Can’t even imagine how hard it must have been on you! Thankfully your husband stood by you in trying times. Glad that you are in a better place now, Rekha!

  14. Pingback: Infertility Dost And Blogger Community Bonding Over Pertinent Issue | Vote Of Thanks | Infertility Dost

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