In the initial months, when a couple starts trying to conceive, they don’t really expect miracles overnight and failed attempts are taken lightly. However, there is a growing section of urban women for whom the vertical line in a pregnancy test remains elusive. As the months go by, the emotional toll starts building up and suddenly nothing seems certain anymore. The clock ticks on and you become more and more aware of your biological fertility window closing on you. Relatives and friends will drop hints, ask questions and offer helpful and unhelpful tips. But you are not quite sure what to do. Should you continue using the natural method a little longer, or talk to a friend/relative for help, or seek medical intervention, or then give up the idea of having children altogether? These are not easy questions to answer. More so, because not being able to conceive directly touches on our womanhood and manhood, and any decision taken reinforces this identity quake. Our self-belief is shaken and clinging on to hope… maybe just one more month… allows us to retain the illusion of being in control.
My travails through infertility
As someone who has been through the whole process—from deferring having kids to focus on my career to struggling with infertility, to then opting for assisted reproductive techniques [ART] that came with multiple failures and heart-breaking miscarriages, I can attest that this journey turns you inside out—physically, mentally and emotionally. And yet the joy when my daughter was born after five years of soul-searing struggle is indescribable. Sometimes we succeed, sometimes we don’t. In the end, what kept me going was simply that I never stopped trying.
Doing this will help
If you are trying to have a child but have not succeeded yet, let me share here what helped me during my journey.
Have complete belief in your purpose
Steadfast belief in your goal is the one thing that will keep you and your partner together. Without this, you have no anchor and no inspiration. This is the purpose that will make you pick yourself up time and again and just keep trying. It will give you faith and hope in your darkest hours.
Build your support network
The support of the people closest to you, especially that of your partner is critical. Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help. Identify the people you trust within your family and friends, and share your journey with them. Reach out to other women who have travelled or are travelling the same route. Once you open up, you will find many networks, online and within your circle of friends, to share your anxieties with. Trust me, most women who have been through this journey, will open their arms and hearts without reservation.
Communicate with each other
Most of us don’t make this journey alone. Our significant other struggles with us every step of the way. In some ways, it can be harder for men because their contribution to the process is limited. And sometimes there might be a medical problem with only one of you. These are testing times for your relationship and will challenge the depths of your commitment to each other. One thing that works is communication with respect. Share your thoughts and emotions while respecting what the other is going through. I found that a relaxing holiday, away from all expectations, gives couples a great opportunity to create the support foundation that you will need during difficult times.
Get a preliminary medical check-up
Even if you decide to take the natural route, there is no harm in checking out if everything is fine with both of you. Consult a gynaecologist and urologist. Both of you will feel better knowing rather than not knowing. The rule of thumb is that after six months of trying, if you have not conceived, it’s a good idea to get a preliminary doctor consultation, more so if the woman is over 35 years of age. Fertility science has made so much progress and there are many non-invasive, inexpensive options available, even before you opt for ART. In the future, if you do need more intensive treatment, this check-up information forms a valuable baseline for both you and your doctor to work with. Getting a health check will make your family planning much more focussed and easier.
This is an irony because stress is considered to be a cause for inability to conceive. But menstrual cycles and dealing with the hormonal ups and downs does not come without stress. Some fertility drugs cause depression and mood swings as a side-effect. Staying positive amidst this chaos and dealing with the month on month conception failure can be an incredibly hard thing to do. And this adds to the other stressors of your life. I agree that sounds massively unfair, but it’s the truth. And each of us has to find that Zen in ourselves. The part that will allow us to let go of our attachment to our belief, without letting go of the belief itself. Sounds insane? When you get there, you’ll know what I mean. We don’t know what we are capable of till we are pushed. Just hang in there.
Every failed cycle is a month gone. In every year, you get just 12 chances to have a baby, even fewer if you are not regular. And while it may take just one time to get pregnant, there is no guarantee it will be the first, second or even 10th time. And even after conception, you have to nurture your little one for nine months before you get to hold him or her in your arms. There are those who have it smooth sailing from conception to birth, and others like me, who aren’t sure till the very end whether this long road starts a new beginning or loops back to where we started.
This was first published in the September 2014 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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