If you have ever wondered whether you and your spouse are the only couple challenged by infertility, either within your family or among your circle of friends and contemporaries, it might come as a surprise to learn that you are not alone.
Chances are that you are among several other tens of thousands of couples that are facing a similar situation right now within your locality.
As you go around making those appointments with a fertility doctor or beginning one treatment cycle or the other in the bid to resolve your challenges, you soon get to realize that you are not alone.
Certainly, you are not the only one that people are telling to relax and that it will happen, or that it just takes time, even when you already know you don’t have time on your side. It is also quite likely that you are not the only one with a medical condition that is already making it harder for you to conceive.
When it comes to infertility, you’re not the only one that has been there, many others have been there too and more will still travel that road. So, it’s not unique to you.
There are millions of couples worldwide who want to have children, but cannot. On the average, about one in every four or 25 percent of couples in Nigeria is affected by infertility, and even though a significant number of these couples are seeking access to fertility treatments, there are still some couples that, for one reason or another, are not attempting to obtain treatment.
While many infertile couples can afford treatment with ease, others may have to struggle a little harder through some social or financial difficulties among others, before their dream of parenthood is realized
The challenges of infertility are often similar whether you are a couple in Nigeria, America or in England. For instance, in many cultures around the world, women who do not have children suffer from stigmatization, discrimination and ostracism, even if the underlying cause lies in their male partners or husbands.
It’s not always an intentional behaviour, but generally the social burden of infertility just happens to fall disproportionately on women. When a couple is unable to have children, the man may divorce his wife or take another wife in a culture that permits polygamy. It’s not so easy for the woman to do the same thing. In many instances, a woman who does not have a child is expected to stay at home and not socialize.
Culturally, there is usually an expectation that for a woman to be socially acceptable, she should have at least one biological child. Sadly, one of the situations that this tendency has created is only to deepen the silence and mystery surrounding infertility.
What you should be doing to cope with all this is to overcome all societal restraints and break that silence. Be in a place that you can feel safe and comfortable to talk about everything and anything infertility, regardless of all the usual societal factors. In so many ways and for so many reasons, infertility is a lonely, isolated road to travel, but you are never alone.
When you start trying for a baby, you hear stories. You hear the story about the couple who had a baby they didn’t plan for, then there’s the story about the couple who fell pregnant after just a few months. There are also the stories about couples who had babies even though they were in their 40s and even 50s, you also hear about the people who struggled a bit, but got pregnant before full fertility treatment started.
When the desire to have a baby has taken over your world, it’s a journey into the wilderness, a silent struggle into the unknown. But by sharing your story, you do benefit and so many others like you also benefit. Believe it or not but it’s only when you open up that you would realize just how many people have actually been through what you are going through or know someone who has.
Shared experiences of infertility are so incredibly powerful, and help you realize that there is nothing to feel shy or afraid about or ashamed of. It also helps to educate others who aren’t directly affected about how it really feels to go through this challenge.
Every month can feel like a new heartbreak, the excitement you start out with can soon be worn down after the monthly cycle of hope building up, then being destroyed. Getting pregnant turns into a fear of not getting pregnant. And of course, you feel like you see babies and pregnant women everywhere.
When friends tell you they are pregnant, you are happy for them, but sad for yourself. Coming to terms with your infertility is never going to be easy and there is no point pretending that it is going to be easy.
It is really important to understand that difficulties in getting pregnant are not always about the woman. As hard as it is to think of yourself as an infertile couple, the journey might start to feel lonely and out of your control. Having a team of specialists behind you is reassuring. It will give you direction and reignite your hope.
But no matter what happens, facing infertility together as a couple is important. You need to be in it together as a team.
It is not impossible that your chances of conceiving on a natural level could be close to zero. Don’t lose hope or give up. You should remain optimistic by transforming your romantic notion of getting pregnant into a scientific and clinical process. Getting treatment for infertility can be a physically and mentally exhausting experience for both you and your spouse.
As a woman, your body and emotions rapidly change within days as your hormones run riot. Going through this phase more than once can push you to want to give up at this point. Don’t give up.
For some reasons, people love to share stories about fertility when it’s easy. The truth is that there are lots of people out there who don’t find it easy. It is only when you are in it, that you find out there are others in your existing community who are in the same position.
Once you open up, you would discover that several other friends and acquaintances have similar stories also. You would realize that for every person that didn’t know what I was experiencing – there were so many others going through the same situation.
Infertility is not something to be ashamed of, it’s just a reality of life, and one that is affecting so many people. The good news is that there is help available and millions of infertile couples have become happy parents. An important factor of coming to terms with the challenge is the need to encourage couples and individuals that are affected to open up and be encouraged to openly talk about infertility to support and simply be there for each other.