04 November, 2006

For The Love Of A Child ..........

.............. read the title of a book I was once reading.

I was engrossed in the book when a friend of mine remarked quite caustically “Well Well – Look who’s reading what”. When I looked up, she said “Atleast you are reading the right books”. “I’m saying this since you guys seem least interested in starting a family” “Arrey Chaar Saal Ho Gaye Tumhare Shaadi Huey” “Kyon – tujhe kuch medical problem hai kya ?” she quipped.

Where did that statement come from ??

That statement arose because my friend was of the strong opinion that not having had a child after four years of marriage was an undeniable transgression on our part.

I just let the comment pass, atleast outwardly I acted quite nonchalant. Inwardly, I was caught in the midst of a whole vortex of emotions.

She was just one among the many who chose to give us a lot of unsolicited advise in this regard.

“Having a Child of One’s Own” - This has been propounded in countless number of places, has been heard from so many people – there has been so much of exposure to this theory that, over a period of time, unconsciously, it has totally numbed us to the point where it is considered a “fact of life”.

How many people seriously stop and consider, even for a single moment, as to how lucky they are to have children whom they can call their own ?

How many of us do it on a regular basis ?

This, too, has just become another one of those things that people take for granted.

Getting married, having children ... yeah sure, that’s the way life goes .....
for a great many – YES !!

But for some, it does not work that way.

The inherent cruelty that society dishes out to those women who, by a quirk of nature, end up struggling with infertility or are unable to have children, is quite astounding.

Even in today’s world, where people consider themselves well read, well informed and quite polished, there still remains a huge majority in the female populace, who consider it their god given right to look down upon women who cannot bear children, just because they themselves have children they can call biologically their own.

This fact registered in my mind a few days back when one of my friends, in a very lame attempt at placing another common friend, referred to her as “that lady who does not have children”.

And this insensitive statement came despite the knowledge that the lady in question has been undergoing treatment for infertility for quite a few years now.

That statement, to me, sounded so very tactless, so very thoughtless, so very inconsiderate.

In fact, I’ve heard this reference from quite a number of ladies. It almost seems to have become habitual to refer to her as the “lady who does not have children”.

Even more sadly, this attitude knows no geographical boundaries.

I’ve witnessed this mind-set a great many times out here in HK and a lot many times in Bombay as well, as I’m sure is the case in other parts of the world too.

It hit me with the force of a freight train. And it made me introspect. This was not the first time that someone was being identified - not on the basis of her abilities, or her talents, or her positive traits but on the basis of something that was totally beyond her control.

Made me think – why do women have to be so callous towards other women ?

For just a fraction of an instant, why not put oneself in the other woman’s shoes – try – just try to feel how she must be feeling.

Try to imagine what it feels like to be faced with the possibility of not being able to bear children. Can you even imagine the mental agony or the emotional strain that comes alongwith such a situation ?

Ask a woman who is going through the ordeal, how heavy that cross is to bear.

Ask a woman who is caught in this nightmarish scenario, what it feels like to be stuck with a needle 15 days in a month.

Ask a women the distress she feels when she has to make all too frequent trips to her doctor’s office, knowing very well as to what she has in store for her – and trust me, it is nothing pleasant.

Ask a woman what the anguish feels like when she is subjected to one investigative procedure after another as doctors try and figure out what is wrong with her reproductive system – one test after another – each test more invasive than the previous one.

Ask a woman what she feels like to have her body pumped full of hormones.

Ask a woman how it feels – the sensation of total elation at one moment, only to sink into the absolute pits of despair the very next – the infamous hormone induced mood swings.

Ask a woman what it feels like to be experiencing such mood swings, more importantly, knowing that she does not have any control over these mood swings.

Ask a woman how stressful that seemingly interminable wait towards the end of each cycle is, to know whether all that pain that she has been through has borne any fruit at all.

Ask a woman how much it takes out of her to strengthen her resolve to go in for another cycle of treatments, should the previous cycle have yielded zilch.

Believe me, it is difficult to imagine the magnitude of pain that infertility brings alongwith it.

I perhaps feel so strongly about the subject because I’ve been there, I’ve done it all, I’ve seen it all, I’ve been through it all. And its not pretty. That much I can say for sure.

I feel, I really feel for all those countless number of women who are fighting this battle – not just a battle with their own bodies which refuse to co-operate, but a battle too against those ranks of society who consider themselves “superior” enough to belittle them.

Human relationships are woven with innumerable threads of emotions and commitments and alongwith this comes the added responsibility of the need to nurture, sustain and strengthen each and every one of those bonds if one is to have a meaningful, fruitful life.

Why then, do a vast majority of women exhibit such appalling apathy when it comes to the pain and distress of another woman ?

And while I still plod on with this question, I cannot help but mull over another very evident paradox.

There are so many couples out there who go in for abortions – for a wide variety of reasons – not all of them medical.

And on the other end of the spectrum are the couples who are prepared to go through and try just about anything and everything that medical science and religious beliefs have to offer – all in an effort to experience “the love of a child”.

Do things never even out ? Are they not supposed to or is that the way things just are ?

This is just another one of those many questions, the injustice of which seems so palpable.

Almost tangible, is it not ?

5 voice(s) said so:

mommyof2 said...

We had A after 4 years too and even my grandma used to think that there was some problem.. I used to say "don't you remember I have to finish my school" still..

cruel world..

B o o said...

I hope this comment goes through! Tried twice and it failed.

As my sister says, people are shy to talk about sex and dont approve of sex education but advice to get pregnant is dime a dozen! I am really annoyed when people cross their limits. And even our family is really irritating when it comes to this subject. "Have it when God gives you. Because if you delay, then God wont give it to you when you want" is the advice I got from family. For Gods sake, I did nt even know if I wanted a baby in the first place. I did nt know if I wanted a baby with the man I had been married to for only one whole month! But like you say, women of our generation talking like this is really stupid. I agree with every line of your post. Good one.

noon said...

Nice post. Yes women often hurt each other - somehow I guess it makes them feel good about themselves. Esp whenit comes to child etc women are the ones who make these caustic remarks.
I wonder too - why there is so much injustice - teens desparately trying to adopt while stable couples who badly want children not being able to conceive...

Varsha said...

Nice post. Like my professor says, to be born in India means you are dstined to get married and reproduce. First, they force their children into marriage when THEY think its "right". Then the pressure to have babies. C'mon when will we learn this is the couple's most private issue to have kids and to have them at their own will. To that add the woes of those with who nature is cruel...to bar those women from "godh bharai" and the naming ceremony..or even show sympathy in a bid to get some gossip. And somehow the blame always goes to the woman.

Had seen one patient who had delivered after 10 yrs of attempts at concieving. And when she had a daughter her MIL pulled a face...

the mad momma said...

This is a statement for which I will no doubt face a lot of flak, but we women seem to be incapable to sensitivity towards our own sex. we rarely find other women to get along with and most often we are cruel towards anyone who is doing anything differently...
we are all no doubt entitled to our own opinions, but i think its time we learnt to keep them to ourselves or blog to vent!!!