Apparently 1 in 10 couples in India struggle with infertility. It shouldn’t be surprising given that we see as many or more number of IVF clinics as Dr.Batra’s hair transplant hoardings. But what is also interesting is that given how common it seems to be, it is incredibly hard to talk about. Let me rephrase that – it is incredibly hard to talk about to someone’s face. I am pretty sure any couple married for over three years with no kids is being discussed in some Indian household.
But for the couple in question, it is hard on so many levels! How do you explain constantly going missing for a few hours from work? How do you explain that ugly adhesive square on your arm caused by the square sticker after countless blood tests? How do you explain cancelling weekend plans because you need to go get shots? How do you explain being broke with no visible sign of the money spent?
I am talking about this because I am sick of not being able to. I have the ludicrous privilege of having a husband who is both supportive when I have to cry and can also laugh in equal measure when you cannot do anything but just that. I have parents on both sides who have been incredibly kind. I have friends who allowed me to crash at their place when treatments failed and I didn’t want to go home. Not everyone is this lucky.
I am also talking about it because for all my gratitude I am also deeply aware that literally 14 people in my life know about the struggle. I have been in forums (the Indian ones) where everyone sounds sad, plaintive, beseeching to gods and I was left wondering why I am not experiencing any such extremes. I stalked UK and US forums and was left scratching my head when they spoke about mandatory counseling and therapy whereas here there is no such thing. I heard some really funny jokes about ultrasound probes (which I thought were only in my head) from women I admire and I wondered about why aren’t we reading or hearing more of these!
And you can ask me why on earth should this be everybody’s business and I will tell you that in most cases, the silence is not by choice. The stigma, the insensitive questions, the ridiculous solutions people offer, the pity, the gossip, dealing with the idea that your body is failing you, worrying about what it will do to your relationships – professional or personal , one or all of these are deterrents. There is no “normal” in this conversation.
Also I am doing this because I find listening to stories helpful and I cannot keep these many jokes in my head. So here we are.
One more thing – my husband is a rock star (my rock and a star ha!) and also struggles, feels confused about many of these things I will be writing about. But his story is not mine to tell. That’s why what I am sharing will be mostly me (except for some of his unmissable jokes)…not because we weren’t in it together but because he should be free to hold the pen if and when he chooses to.