I am a stay at home mother of two children aged 10 and 2. Yes.. This is how I like to get introduced to people now. But this has not been the case always. In the 18 years of my marriage, I was childless for the longest time, then I became an adopted mom and later to my own surprise – a biological mom. Now I am just looking at myself as a mother to a rebellious preteen daughter and a toddler in his terrible twos who keeps me on my toes always. Looks like God does not want me to miss out on anything in life after all. Today I have no complaints as I enjoy these challenges immensely.
The purpose of writing this article is to give an idea about some of the social stigmas I encountered personally in the initial stages when I was not able to conceive a child. I will not be able to sugar coat these bitter experiences. After all, doesn’t bitterness make the sweet more enjoyable later? In our country many people go through this trauma without any help or counselling even from the closest family members. The relationship between the family members go sour in the long run as each and every presumably harmless comment also start pricking you somewhere deep inside your heart. How we take all these little things in our stride makes life more interesting which will eventually surprise us with many unexpected perks also. With my story I would like to bring faith and hope into the lives of people who are sailing in the same boat as I was.
Within a month of my marriage, my sister in law who was married 6 months before me, made the big announcement that they were expecting a baby. The whole family was pampering her as much as possible making me feel jealous at times about all the attention that she was getting. Very soon my monthly cycles became a big let down to the family elders as they too wanted to have their own grand child as soon as possible. I succumbed to the mounting pressure. I never thought that I would be having problems getting pregnant. Isn’t it natural for everybody to get it sooner or later? To add to the misery, I had to sit along with my sister in law for her baby shower as it is believed that whoever is sitting with the pregnant woman for the puja would be the next in line. That was just the beginning. For many years after this, wherever there was a Seemantham (Godh Bharaai), my name was volunteered, not understanding the pain and humiliation I felt going through this embarrassing custom. To maintain my sanity, I had taken up a full time job which was really a boon to meet new people and drown myself in the project deadlines.
Whichever family function we went, there would be direct personal question from any person remotely related to us about why we were not having a baby. Why don’t you start some fertility treatment? Who has the problem – you or your husband? Why don’t you try going around the peepul tree everyday? You should do this puja for so many weeks and everything will work out soon. You should visit this temple of a powerful goddess for getting a baby. Since my family values are very high, I never disrespected anybody openly and kept nodding my head to everything they had to say. But I didn’t feel the need to go for any fertility treatment or to visit any special temples because I was of the opinion that it will happen when it is meant to be. Also I kept reminding myself to stay calm and remain positive to get the courage needed to face the harsh realities of life. Being a strong person mentally, I never let my guard down to show my true emotions as I didn’t want to be seen as a weakling in front of anybody.
Some incidents are etched clearly in our memory that even after so many years, the wound still feels raw. Once when I was cutting a papaya, a relative noticed that the fruit didn’t have a single seed inside. She mentioned that it is kaliyuga and even the fruits are becoming “maladu” (barren). I was deeply hurt by this particular strong usage of word that I cried so much that night. Later I consoled myself thinking why I let an illiterate woman who didn’t know that there are even such hybrid fruits available in the market affect me so much.
In our culture, so many customs are being followed which nobody knows whether it is right or wrong. But all I am saying it is not fair to pass judgement on others just because they have already become a parent. Those days I was doing many things at my subconscious level itself to avoid any unwanted hurtful comments from others. For instance, I stopped picking up any newborn baby, I stopped complimenting people about their kids, I avoided playing with little children. I had to do all these because, I didn’t want people to feel that my barren status might unnecessarily bring Drishti or so called negativity to their beloved baby’s health.
Also it is believed in the Hindu religion that when a person dies, the grandson is supposed to show the ghee lit fire (nei pandham) and guide the soul to pass over into the light. Anybody without a proper heir will become a wandering ghost not knowing which way to go. This was reminded to me by my relatives many a times. Few well wishers said that I should consider myself fortunate because any other family would have already started looking for another bride for their only son sighting this very reason. I knew for sure that my husband would not agree to such things. But how much ever I tried to deny it, I was really beginning to feel the first pangs of depression.
Luckily, during this time my husband got transferred to US. This was a time cherished by both of us, as we got closer to each other and found our strength together as a couple which didn’t happen till then when we were living in a joint family. We enjoyed life without any other stress, made exercise part of our daily routine and explored a lot of new places. But after a while, it started becoming very mundane and boring. When all our other friends were having babies, calling us for the birthday parties or talking about how they have secured the future of their children because of their American citizen status, all we could do was remain quiet feeling an emptiness. We would drive back home in deafening silence as we felt that something was lacking from our lives and we should take the right course of action before it was too late.
That was when we decided to get back to our country and start the adoption process. A decision which changed our life forever, for I was not wanting anything more from life at that point. You may be thinking that it was made possible only because my husband was extending his firm support during the turbulent times which would have been very difficult otherwise. I completely agree with you. If situations were different, couples would have drifted apart or worse yet, ended their marriage if they don’t have anything to hold onto as a symbol of their love. What I would like to emphasise here is that we should keep an open mind, explore other options and avoid making any decision in a haste. In my personal experience, there have been many interesting signs from God which proved that he has been guiding us in the right direction by giving us things only when we are ready for it. Now I am a firm believer of God and his timings. If your story does not have a happy ending, don’t lose heart. May be it is not over yet and he is adding more chapters till it reaches a happy fairy tale ending. Believe this and you will see a huge positive difference where the whole universe comes together to bring all that you wish for and more to your doorsteps!!
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