My story is one I would have appreciated reading when I was struggling to conceive
Sadly though, infertility is a subject that people rarely want to talk about, despite millions of people being affected by it all across the globe. My story is a story of my struggle with not only my fertility, but the opinions of family and friends towards me.
Unconventionally, I want to jump immediately to the end of my story, as I want the people reading this to see that although I went through very low times, I ended on a massive high – I became a mother with the help of assisted reproductive technology, and an incredible team at my IVF clinic. I am now a mother to a beautiful little girl and I feel like I floating.
Not so long ago though, I felt the complete opposite to this feeling of elation, I felt like I would drown, I cried that many tears
Let me explain
I married my husband six years ago when I was 25. As with most young brides, we are excited by the prospect of our marriage and the family that we would bring into this world. My husband wanted to become a father as soon as possible – a desire echoed by both our parents who were beyond excited at the prospect of becoming grandparents.
So, immediately, we started trying for a family. But my period arrived, Then again the following month, and the following, and the following. 4 months after we got married, I started to panic.
My parents and my in-laws started to ask about our plans to start a family
I assured them it would happen soon, but the truth is, I was unable to assure myself. I decided to give it a couple more months before I started to really panic, telling myself it probably takes around six months anyway.
6 months passed, and then the comments started. Comments that I overheard elders saying. Comments that made me feel like I was failing as a wife and as a woman.
“She must be infertile”. “She should be pregnant already”. “What is wrong with her?”” She is cursed I tell you”. My son’s wife should be able to bear his children!!”. “If she can’t have children then he must find another wife!”. “Who will take on the family name if our son doesn’t have a child?”
The comments got harsher and more frequent
The blame on my shoulders got heavier, and my husband started to look at me with resentment. Everyone assumed I was the reason that we had not yet started our family. Even I thought it was my fault that we were not conceiving. All around me, men and women in our community were raising new families.
I felt so much shame
Then, one day whilst at work, an older colleague of mine who I get on very well with, asked me why I was looking so sad. For the first time ever, I burst into tears. She took me into the side room and allowed me to talk openly. I explained that I was so desperate to give my husband a child and that I felt I was letting the entire family down.
My colleague said to me “ Have you had any fertility tests?”. I stopped in my tracks. It was the first time that somebody had spoken to me about my “situation” in a practical manner. I hadn’t even thought about fertility tests, or even going to see a doctor. I had started to believe my elders, who thought I was just cursed with infertility.
My kind colleague suggested that I make an appointment with my local doctor so that I could look into some of the reasons why I wasn’t conceiving. So I did.
When I sat down with the doctor, she asked me all sorts of questions about me and my husband’s lifestyle. She wanted to know if we drank, smoked, ate well etc. I told her that we ate well, but that my husband smoked quite heavily.
She carried out blood tests and asked my husband to visit her so that she could arrange a sperm test
When I told my husband about my visit to the doctor, he was shocked. When I told him that the doctor wanted to do a sperm test, he got quite angry. He thought it was absurd that the doctor thought that he might have a problem, and was reluctant to go. But I sat him down and pleaded with him. I told that the doctor was so discreet and that nobody had to know – not even our family. I told him the problem was probably with me, but that we just needed to rule him out. That however was not the case.
Tests came back to say that I was not the sole problem after all
The problem was both me and my husband. His poor lifestyle, in terms of his excessive smoking was part of the reason that we were not conceiving, My husbands sperm quality was so poor, affected by the nicotine. My husband was told to quit smoking and to take supplements to improve the sperm quality.
I discovered that I had PCOS
It was decided that the best course of action was IVF. After two rounds of IVF, we are now utterly overjoyed to announce that we are now the proud parents to a beautiful little girl.
I owe everything to that special work colleague of mine who spoke out – who wasn’t afraid to talk about infertility. Had she not put me on the right track, I would be childless, and probably disowned by my husband and his family.
We did eventually tell our family that we were having fertility issues and that we were both to blame
It felt incredible watch the expressions of our elders, when we explained that there were medical reasons for the delay in the start to our family, and that I was not cursed.
The main thing that I take from my painful journey to motherhood is that we need to be more open – we may save not only marriages, but lives – for had I carried on the way I once was, I am not sure i would have wanted to carry on with my life.
I hope my story gives you the strength to explore your fertility, to take action, and to educate those around you. Infertility affects both men and women. Fact.
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