Pregnancy Dream

I had a lovely dream yesterday.. In the dream I was expecting, and no doubt,  my husband and I were simply ecstatic. It was a miracle, and we were totally unprepared for the surprise. Nonetheless,  we were both over the moon as our earnest prayers had been answered.

Scene changed.  I was with my family.  Even though I’d recently discovered I was pregnant, the first thought on my mind was to go shopping for khimars to wear over the abaya. A khimar refers to a very long piece of cloth that drapes all the way from the head to the hands. At present, the veil I wear isn’t particularly long, it just comes below my chest. Obviously, I wear the niqab (i.e. a garment which covers my face), so my body is fully covered either ways,  but if I wish to hide my bump,  a khimar would be essential.

When I woke up, I wondered what it would feel like if my dream actually came true. It’s said that a mother doesn’t just carry her child in her womb for 9 months,  she carries him/her in her heart for her lifetime. How would it be to experience motherhood?

My husband had a second course of the same medicine which the hakim had given him before, he was asked to do a semen analysis after completing the course. He was willing, but I told him to do it after a couple of months as my heart is too weak to take another disappointment. I’m just surviving on hope and prayers, for now.

Lots of people I know recently had babies,  so, it just makes me immensely sad that I have been denied this divine gift of nature. How great it would be to be in total command of your own body,  plan a family whenever you want.

Many times,  my husband and I discuss how different our life would have been if he had not undergone the hernia surgery which led to him getting azoospermia. He calls it the biggest mistake of his life. Unfortunately,  there’s no reverse surgery for it. There’s a very complicated process with very low success rate,  so no andrologist recommends it. The only option left for us is geeting IVF with ICSI done,  which I’m not particularly keen of, at the moment. Not before we’ve exhausted every route of alternative medicine.

The Almighty has said that there’s a cure for every disease,  and if the right medicine is taken, the disease is cured by the will of God. So, I’m constantly on the lookout for an effective , non-invasive cure for azoospermia and also, my messy cycle.

Earlier this week, I spent a couple of hours shopping online for cute outfits to gift my neice and nephew.  I felt happy and sad at the same time doing that. On the one hand, it was very exciting to chose outfits from a wide variety for the little munchkins,  it felt really satisfying but I was internally sad that I didn’t have any babies of my own so that I could shop to my heart’s content and dress them the way I wished.

I had purchased a cute frock with little pajamas a couple of years earlier which I’d kept in my suitcase. I’d saved it for my own daughter as I had fallen in love with it,  but now, with a heavy heart,  I’ve decided to gift it too,  as I don’t know when I’ll be the bearer of any good news. If I do have a baby girl,  then,  I’ll buy new clothes for her.

So, my infertility journey continues. Ultimately, it’s only God who can turn things right from wrong… I just need to keep holding on.

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A wound that never heals

Coping with infertility seems like suffering from a wound that never heals – the rawness of the wound makes you feel like you’re in constant discomfort and pain. There’s a void and emptiness in my life which I feel only a baby can fill.

On the days I have af , I feel particularly down & miserable. It’s like another month of my life passed by in failure. I panic internally because my biological clock is going tick-tock-tick and that my egg supply is getting over. Inspite of all the odds against me, I look forward to witnessing a miracle each month. And I’m greatly disappointed when I don’t.

My sister had a son last week – her 4th son in 8 years. MashaAllah. Apparently, she had a dream long back where she saw herself posting her status as “Mom of 5 boys”. She lost one son by miscarriage at 5 months a few years back. So, her dream did comr true finally.

My inlaws came here last week with my SIL and the twins but they went back in 4 days because my SIL felt her kids became sicker after coming here. She’s a little unstable minded and threw a huge tantrum that she wanted to go back. Everyone tried their best to reason with her, requested her to wait for a couple of days, to consult a pediac here, but she remained obstinate. So, my inlaws had no choice but to pack up and go back to their native place over 250 kms away.

Coming back to my infertility journey, all around me, I see women of my age having babies or little kids. The major portion of their talks revolve around their kids. I feel like the odd one out in social circles and group chats. Even when they complain about their kids, I can feel a sense of pride and joy coming from somewhere deep within them. It’s like they wouldn’t trade their kids or motherhood experiences for anything in this world. And I want that too.

My husband is taking medicines, my hormonal cycle is still messed up as ever, and in my weak moments, I find myself repeatedly questioning “Why us?”. Why do we have to be the “1 in 10”? Why couldn’t we have been like a normal, fertile couple? Why did God choose to test us with infertility?

On some days, I’m hopeful and remain positive but on others, I become negative and wonder whether my condition will ever change. My faith fluctuates between high and low.

Maybe God is making me wait to grant me something much greater than what I’m asking him?

Life goes on…

I spent almost a month at my in-laws’ place after my SIL was blessed with twins and came back to my home, sweet, home last week after Eid. It feels heavenly to be back home with my hubby. No heavy workload, no endless days, no sleepless nights, not having anyone to answer to, no expectations to live upto – just pure freedom . My in- laws are planning to come to my home pretty soon to stay for a month or so, but, till then, I can sit back and relax.

My husband is in touch with the doctor who had messed his hernia repair and had consulted him after he was diagnosed with azoospermia. They visited some andrologists together who all suggested that ultimately, getting IVF with ICSI done was the only solution. Last month, that doctor got some natural medicines from a well-known naturopath in another city whose treatment is very effective and has shown positive results in tons of patients including a famous govt. minister who had children in his mid-forties by taking his treatment. He had assured my husband that the medicines would work and to get his sperm count checked again after the medicines were over. The medicines were for 20 days. In the dutation, my husband had to refrain from consuming any sour foods. My husband took the medicines religiously, and while I was here, I specially prepared food without adding any sourness, like lemon, vinegar or tomatoes. After a few days, I had to go to my inlaws place, but my husband was very careful of his diet for the remaining days. He underwent a semen analysis again after 20 days, but unfortunately, the results were the same – his sperm count was still ZERO. He consulted his doctor who consulted that naturopath who said the dosage of the medicine must be increased, but since, there was no progress at all, we’re not too keen on pursuing the same route.

Another famous hakim visited a nearby village today and my husband consulted him. My husband did bot have to state his problems, the hakim diagnosed his condition accurately in just 5 seconds after examining his vein only. He has prescribed some medicines for 1 month.

My husband and I are desperate. We’re willing to try all alternative medicine routes and exhaust every avenue possible we can as we know there has to be a cure out there somewhere. We firmly believe in the hadith that God has decreed a remedy for every disease except death. We just hope and pray that we’re able to discover the pathway for the right cure soon.

I’m not too keen on jumping to IVF at the moment as I’m hopeful of conceiving naturally. After observing the condition of my SIL who had IVF done versus other women who manage to conceive naturally, I can safely say that the two cannot be compared. There’s a hell of difference between artificial and real stuff.

My heart cries and bleeds with pain and hurt and loneliness when I see other couples cuddling with their babies or little ones. I feel like the deprived one amongst the blessed lot. It seems like the most difficult thing to hold on to faith hoping your prayers will be answered one day. Yet it’s also the only thing that keeps you sane and alive.

New Arrivals

My SIL who had IVF done last year gave birth to twins via C-section last week – a boy and a girl. Everyone was overjoyed at the new arrivals. Though they arrived a month early ( which isn’t unusual for twins) they were healthy and their weight was also good – 2.4 & 2.6 kgs.

It’s baby season right now- lots of people I know have just given birth to babies or are going to deliver soon. There’s a saying here that July-Aug-Sep is a prime season for giving birth. Perhaps, because they’ve been conceived during winter when couples tend to snuggle close to each other, hence, more intimacy??

I have to go to my in-laws’ house soon for a few weeks to help with the household chores, cooking & chores involving newborns. The last time I was around any newborn was almost 7 years back when my sister had given birth, but my mom used to handle all the work then, hence, I’m totally clueless. I just know that newborns are needy and need lots of time and attention. In India, they use cloth diapers for newborns instead of disposable ones, hence, they have to be washed and dried. What a disgusting task – washing pee and poo by hand. Secondly, the new mother is fed a variety of traditional, healthy & complicated dishes to recuperate faster, so, a lot of time is spent in the kitchen preparing food for her. Thirdly, there is a constant flow of visitors and guests who come to see the newborns , so, you have to sit with them, entertain them, serve them drinks and snacks. I can expect sleepless, tiring nights and days ahead…without my husband.

‌I had visited my SIL in the hospital on the day her babies were born. She had kids after 4.5 years of marriage, so, everyone who visited her not only asked her how many years had passed since her marriage, but they also enquired when I got married. Since I’ve been married longer, I got plenty of pitying & sympathetic looks for being barren. A few kind ones prayed that God grant me a child soon. But, I felt extremely miserable and depressed when I returned. So, I’m just bracing myself to get judged and trashed by relatives and strangers alike for being infertile. In my society, it’s a massive curse if you’re married and childless. You’re considered deprived, unfortunate and ill-fated. Despite my deep internal pain and agony, one thing I’m extremely grateful for is that unlike other infertile girls whose in-laws pressurize, taunt, criticize and blame them for not being able to conceive, my in-laws have always been supportive and open-minded.

‌My husband and I have decided not to tell anybody – not even our parents and siblings that he has azoospermia. Apart from doctors who we seek treatment from, obviously. Islamically, spouses are meant to be like garments for each other and one function of a garment is to cover up flaws and defects. It’s not a secret that we’re suffering from infertility but it’s our private business how we chose to deal with it, so, I’ve convinced him that there is no point in letting others know our exact condition. Friends and well-wishers will pray for us either way, revealing our condition is not going to make a major difference in their lives.

‌Last month, I had bleeding for 17 days, this month, I’ve begun bleeding again. I try my best to remain stress free, but it seems like I have more abnormal days than normal ones. I’m currently taking unani medicines for removal of chocolate cyst. It’s a three month course, of which 2 months are almost up. I have tried every sort of medicine for my hornonal disbalance from allopathic to homeopathic to ayurvedic to unani to naturopathic to simple home remedies, but the problem only seems to get worse as months pass by. I think I will have to visit a different gynec once again and get tests, sonography and hormonal reports done all over again.

‌For the time being, I guess I will just have to remain patient and hope for a positive outcome. If it’s dark in your life right now, be patient as the sun always rises. If it’s light right now,  be thankful but know that the sun must also set. Praise your Maker for both the night and the day, and know that He never sets.

A Dead End

It’s been a couple of months since I’ve updated my blog.  Nothing has changed for us. Our situation is the same. We’re still infertile. In April, we discovered that my husband has azoospermia. He has consulted 3 different andrologists since then. He has obstructive azoospermia…i.e. sperms are being produced in his testicles but are unable to reach the ejaculate because of an obstruction. Like I’ve mentioned in my previous blog entries, this has been caused because my husband had undergone a hernia repair surgery before marriage.

A very complicated duct repair surgery can be performed to repair the blockage,  but its success results are very poor,  so,  his doctors have ruled out this option completely. They have all recommended going for assisted reproduction…IVF,  more specifically,  ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection ). ICSI is performed in severe cases of male infertility.

ICSI is very similar to conventional IVF in that gametes (eggs and sperm) are collected from each partner. The difference between the two procedures is the method of achieving fertilisation. In conventional IVF, the eggs and sperm are mixed together in a dish and the sperm fertilises the egg ‘naturally’.
ICSI involves the injection of a single sperm directly into a mature egg.

According to doctors, we will never be able to conceive naturally. However, we have not yet given up hope. Before thinking of IVF,  we’re looking at alternative medicines and treatments to treat his condition.

I also suffer from severe hormonal disbalance,  my cycle is a mess. It seems like out of 30 days a month, I have bleeding for 15 days. Earlier I would get spotting for a few days before the actual flow began,  nowadays,  it takes more than a week for the flow to begin. I’m at my wits’ end,  I dont know what to do. Sonography reports show that my follicles are forming and maturing naturally. I’ve taken allopathic, biochemic,  homeopathic,  ayurvedic and unani medicines to treat my hormonal disbalance but to no avail. Rather, the problem seems to be getting worse and worse as days pass by.

As a Muslimah,  you can not fast or pray during those days of the month and the  maximum duration of a menstrual cycle (according to the Shariah) is 10 days and 10 nights. If it lasts beyond that,  it is considered an illness. You have to take a bath and begin praying and fasting normally after that time period. Earlier, my menstrual cycle would get over in 6, 7 or maximum 8 days, spotting and bleeding all included. Nowadays , it goes on and on and on. I’m tired. I want to be normal once again.

Every year after Ramadan, I only had to make up 6 or 7 and sometimes, 8 fasts but this time,  I have to make up 10 fasts. It’s weird how little control I have over my body. It disturbs my spiritual life,  it disturbs my mental health,  it disturbs my physical well-being, it disturbs my love life.

Our faith is the only thing that keeps us holding on during these troubled times. Confusion and doubt overtake us but we know Our Lord will create a path for us when there seems no way and He will open the doors even though there is no key. He brings forth dawn after the darkness of the night,  so He Alone will remove our obstacles and bring about the best solution for our worries. He is Al-Fattah … The Opener of Ways.

Devastating Discovery

A few days back, my husband finally underwent a semen analysis and the results just devastated us completely. We had not been prepared for this at all. He has azoospermia – his sperm count is nil – ZERO!! At the worst, I feared he would have low sperm count or low motility or something like that but I had never imagined , not in my worst nightmare, that this could be a possibility. Our world has been completely shaken. Now, there’s absolutely no chance of me conceiving naturally.

There are two types of azoospermia either obstructive, where there is a blockage keeping the sperm from getting out or non-obstructive where there is a problem with production. Obstructive azoospermia occurs when the duct carrying the sperm from the testicle to the urethra becomes blocked. This blockage may be the result of previous surgery on the scrotum or testicle, or even follow repair of an inguinal hernia. During hernia surgery, the vas deferens may be inadvertently damaged or even cut. My husband had undergone hernia repair surgery a couple of months before marriage after which he had undergone a rare complication involving some testicular problem. So, he had always suspected something was amiss.

Anyway, nowadays, there are success stories of men with azoospermia fathering a child. However, they involve invasive tests like TESA, MESA etc which help to determine if there are any sperm being produced in the testes, after which IVF is carried out using ICSI. It’s mentally, physically and financially agonising for both the man and the woman. If everything fails, using a donor sperm or adoption are the other options, both of which are forbidden in our faith. Sure, I’d like to have a child but I only want to have my husband’s child, not someone else’s baby.

My husband is naturally, at his lowest these days. He feels he’s failed me as a husband .. that he’s destroyed my life and even suggested that if I want to leave him and move on with someone else, I could do so. I asked him not to be silly but he said it’s obligatory upon him to give me the option as I shouldn’t have to suffer with him. I assured him that marriage is about accepting each other with all their flaws. It’s not a game or a fickle bf-gf relationship that you move out when anything goes wrong . Moreover, we would be facing the battle of infertility together, so, we would have each other’s support as a couple as compared to facing any other battle alone

I try my best to remain strong and supportive in front of him, but internally, I’m really broken. My heart has been shattered into a million pieces. The first day, I cried so much after he left for work that I had a severe headache for which I had to take a paracetamol, so, I try my best to remain calm, but there are several times a day, I just break down. Will I never get a chance of experiencing motherhood?

 

An endless journey

Somethings never change… like my infertility journey. It’s long, tiring, boring and unending.

A couple of weeks back,  I had my bartholin cyst removed surgically. I had it from years,  I myself am unsure how long I had it but I’m pretty sure I had it well before marriage. After marriage, my husband had asked about it but, oblivious as I was to what it was,  I had dismissed it as insignificant. It was only when I went for a transvaginal ultrasound for a menstrual irregularity around a year later that the gynec said I had a bartholin cyst. All the doctors I visited thereafter suggested operating on it to get it removed. Time passed and it kept increasing in size,  but I kept ignoring it as I was too scared to go under the knife. Besides, I’d read online reviews that getting it removed surgically made intercourse painful forever and one could never get lubricated naturally again,  so, I kept dilly-dallying in the hope there would be a natural,  non-invasive, homeopathic alternative. My husband said there was no experienced female homeopath in the city we lived in and I should go to my parents’ city for treatment if I wanted to cure my cyst with homeopathy. I had consulted a female homeopath there and she had said there was a treatment,  but it would take time, upto 6 months, perhaps longer. I would have to get the cyst checked regularly,  report the progress to her and medicines would be changed accordingly. This was not feasible as I live hundreds of miles away. Besides, courier facilities do not deliver liquids, so, how would I be able to receive the medicines? So, the treatment would be interrupted if not done continuously. That’s why I was constantly in limbo.

I waited too long. Diseases dont go away miraculously if ignored. My cyst became the size of an egg, so, I knew I couldn’t ignore it any longer. If I conceived,  it would definitely  cause problems, so, a date was fixed on 15 March. On the operating table, it was discovered that the cyst was actually an abscess. I was given general anaesthesia, an incision was made,  the pus was removed but the cut had to be left open for the remaining pus to drain out. I still have to apply antiseptic liquid and ointment everytime I use the washroom. The doctor said it will take around 1.5 months for the area to heal completely and that I would have to take some medicines for a few days for the next 3 months to prevent the infection from recurring again. Intercourse has been forbidden for one month. I had called my mother to my place for a few days and I came along with her to my parental house for a few days for resting and recuperating.

Back to my infertility,  my husband has still not gotten a semen analysis done. He had promised to do it in 2018, and the 4th month of the year has begun. Somehow, somewhere something always comes up which disrupts our pre-made plans. There has to be a gap of 3 days before a sample can be collected,  so,  that always poses a problem .Sometimes, an emergency case or serious patient is admitted in the hospital, so, my husband has to be there. Sometimes,  there are unexpected guests at home. But, the main & biggest reason I think is my husband’s fragile ego.  He has a deep fear that he will fail the test,  hence,  he tries to evade it as long as he can. He also has a horrible habit of procrastinating and dilly-dallying,  I have to remind him 50 times before any little thing gets done,  but this is taking it way too far. 5 years of infertility should be enough to get a man motivated . When there’s a will, there’s a way. If a person really wants to do something,  he finds a way. But my husband always has an excuse. Whenever I confront him,  he assures me he will get it done that very week. But he doesn’t.

It fills me with deep pain that almost all the women who got married around the same time I did have 2 kids by now. Just yesterday, I found out a cousin is expecting her 2nd baby sometime soon. She had gotten married around the same time I had but had her first baby after 3.5 years of marriage.  We had both been struggling to conceive at one point,  but she won the infertility battle and then managed to have 2 kids in 2 years. Today, I discovered another cousin who got married in December is expecting. My SIL’s SIL who got married last year is also full-term pregnant right now. My sister is also expecting her 4th child. (Technically,  her 5th as she had one miscarriage at 5th month). Another couple who got married 5. 5 years back is also expecting their first child after succesful treatments. When you’re struggling with infertility,  all you notice is babies, mothers and expectant mothers.

That’s the major difference between us and other infertile couples. Other couples take action & seek medication while having faith in the Creator while I’m unable to do anything because my husband is hibernating and waiting for a miracle to occur. Obviously, his pain is not as deep as mine. He doesn’t get pitied or judged or taunted or accused the way I do. His success is measured by how well he does in his career while my failure to achieve motherhood defines my failure as a woman as a whole. It tears me up inside,  on some days,  I feel I can’t take it anymore, I’m filled with negativity and pessimism, I feel hopeless,  yet,  I have to get up and keep going.

Will there be light at the end of the tunnel?  Only time shall tell…