First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes… infertility?
With the excitement of marriage comes the excitement of starting new – a new home, new traditions and best of all, new life!
In wedding speeches and well wishes there will always be the one-liner hinting towards a baby; and why shouldn’t there be? That is the inevitable next step right?
Wrong – oh so wrong, well, at least for us it was.
Our journey for a baby started early on in our marriage. We knew we wanted a family, and we didn’t care about waiting and settling into married life and ticking all the boxes before the baby came. We just knew we wanted her (I always referred to the unborn baby as a “her” – sending my wish out into the world) and we wanted her now.
One year later, we were no closer to being parents than the day we decided to start trying. Doctors told me that everything was fine, and these things take time. Two years later and still no baby, we were finally referred to a gynecologist. Countless trips, consultations and one operation later, I was no closer to being a mom. By then, I at least I had a diagnosis – polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Finally, my irregular periods, constant cramps, and inexplicable weight gain had a name.
There are many ways to remedy PCOS and you can fall pregnant, it just takes that little bit of extra time, sacrifice and patience.
We were put on various treatments, all of which involved injections administered at home, surgery, dietary changes, pills and potions…and with the medical advice came the couch expert advice: “try the 28-day diet, I know a friend of a friend who fell pregnant”, “try drinking more green tea, it cleanses the system”, “stop stressing, do yoga, another friend of a friend fell pregnant” and so it went, and the more desperate I got, the more home remedies I tried…3 cycles of 28 day diets, countless liters of green tea, hours spent trying to master the downward-facing dog yoga position and I was no closer to finding my zen or being a mom.
I can elaborate more on what our journey looked like but I chose to let go of those experiences – the medical route was not a positive experience for me – there were times I felt like nothing more than a number and other times when I had a doctor who showed real empathy, there were times when I went into the operating theater with optimism and there were times I went in sobbing and full of fear. There are times when an operation was a success and times when treatments failed.
It is important that women need to listen to our bodies, ask the questions and demand the answers – infertility is an expensive exercise, with no treatment covered under medical aid, so treating it is an investment in you is crucial. People we barely knew started commenting on my age and how I need to hurry up and have a baby. When did it become OK to openly question and judge a woman for not having a baby? Am I less of a woman because I have not brought life into the world?
If there is one piece of advice I can offer – it will not be to the woman who chose to not have kids, it will not be to the woman who is trying with all her might to have a baby, it will not be to the woman holding on to her husband, afraid that he will leave her because she can’t carry on his legacy (this was another bit of nonsense advice I received), I am directing my advice to the woman making these comments and asking these questions. My advice is simple: DON’T.
Five years of trying later, I convinced myself that this is not what I wanted in the first place, life is expensive, the world is a mess, I love my one-on-one time with my husband, but little did I know that God had other plans for us. And this is where I leave you for now. I will share more of my story in future articles but the message I want to leave everyone who is praying for a baby is this: keep praying, keep believing – there are many ways of becoming a mom; you just have to find the right way for you.
We live in a society that believes that unconventional methods such as IVF, surrogacy, adoption, or fostering are wrong or impossible. I can promise you, they are not.
Until next time.