Infertility Does Not Define Me

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  • Trying to Conceive Since 2007
  • of IUI (Intra Uterine Insemination) Cycles – 3
  • of IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) Cycles – 3
  • Eggs Retrieved – 22
  • Eggs Remaining – 7
  • Pregnancies – 2
  • Miscarriages – 3

Found my calling for a life without children in 2016. Still, infertility does not define me.

I don’t know when the first time is when someone puts that image of motherhood in your mind. You see it all around you. There’s nothing wrong with that image until you think it’s the ultimate life goal. No one talks about the fact that it may be not be a destiny for 1 in 8 women in this world. I am that 1 out of 8. This year, after 10 years of undiagnosed, unexplained infertility, I decided to speak up.

Here’s my why. Most of the influencers on social media who choose to speak up to raise awareness about infertility end up having two to three children and proclaiming that have had infertility for two or three years. I get it. The pain is the same, the isolation is the same, but the destination is different. They ended up having children. I and women like me, didn’t.

Most of the time, its fate and sometimes its what you decide for yourself, for the sake of sanity, for the sake of your partner, for the sake of your family.

One day I blew up on Instagram after an influencer shared her journey of infertility of two years and ended up with three kids. I questioned her right to call this ‘sphere’ hers. It broke my heart to see so many women followers approached her for advice, still childless, knowing she had very little to do with it. So, I reached out to her and asked her why she thought that gave her the authority on such a topic because clearly, she ended up with a family she wanted. To which she said, she wished more women with indefinite infertility came forward and told their story because someone’s got to do it.

That was more than six months ago.

Here I am telling the world that I choose not to speak about infertility for so long because it doesn’t define who I am. I refuse to embody that label to wear down on my intellect, my emotional health, my years of life experience and the contribution I make to the community every day, that if nothing else, should matter the most to the world around me.

However, this influencer had a valid point. Because of women like us, who never come forward to speak about their journey through infertility, who never end up having children but do lead a healthy and fruitful life, other people choose to take up that space.

Is it because we think we have no happy ending? I am here to tell you how wrong we are.

Before you judge me, let me quickly tell you it’s not about fighting over some social media sphere, it’s about giving the voice to the most vulnerable yet the most silent survivors of infertility, hence the silent heroes of such stories.

I have always been an ambitious girl. I have been commented on by some very close loved ones, ‘she never wanted kids’ or ‘have you really tried?’ not knowing the full extent of my every day battles. They didn’t see me through the three cycles of IVF, I went through, in a different city in a different province because such facilities weren’t offered in our town, all this while working full time, being a wife, a friend, a neighbour and wearing so many hats that I wore unknowingly.

 

The first time I miscarried, I was at work getting ready to train 15 of my staff and had to go home for an emergency. I bled on my friends’ coach that day as my husband was out of town and no one in town knew what I had gone through. Nothing is lonelier than that. What came out of it is a bond that I and my friend share and is unbreakable to this day.

A year later, I miscarried for the second time losing two this time, hence bleeding and hurting even more. I inflamed my sciatic nerve that day and it aches from time to time when my sciatica flares up. A piece of my soul, my spirit, died that day. I fell into an abyss of depression. My whole body ached for weeks from the tears my soul shed every day for something that could have been. My shoulders still carry the weight of that sorrow.

Contrary to that, life didn’t stop throwing curve balls at me. The day I went back to work after the second miscarriage, I got laid off from a I job I really liked.  A month later, I tripped and fell on a concrete slab, almost smashing my elbow (it didn’t break, it popped out and popped back itself) and ended up in cast. I was hurting both outside and inside.

A major shift happened. It had to happen. Things that I craved and cherished, like a corporate career, kids etc., events that I wished for in life like first day of school, graduations and eventually grandkids, didn’t matter anymore. I started to seek a spiritual connection with my Creator. I searched for a purpose in my being. To me, surely, if He created me and put me on this earth, I must be for a reason. I became a seeker for that reason. I find solace in my prayers, in my reading the Quran and in listening to and connecting with real human stories. Helping others in need has become my go-to mantra in life.

I learnt very quickly life is not worth running after what you don’t have. What if you are chasing a dream that is taking you further from your life’s purpose. That’s when I stopped. As a couple we explored the option of adoption and realized very quickly it may not be for us. We decided to stop before we lost everything good about us. We took the time to heal. We took the time to think. We took the time to reclaim our own narrative and our own stories.

I am a loving wife, a responsible daughter, an understanding sister, a doting auntie, a hardworking employee, a compassionate colleague, a good listener and an everlasting friend. Where do you see ‘infertile’ in that list? I don’t. So, shouldn’t you.

For the remainder of April, when Infertility Awareness Week occurs annually, find gratitude in what you have. Be compassionate to those who don’t have a similar journey as yours. Maybe they are not there yet. Maybe they will never be. Be open to that difference. Create a safe space for them to talk about it. Respect the courage they have. They wake up every day, look the world in the eye and say ‘bring it on’.

 This article was written and submitted by Jamal-e-Fatima Rafat