CHENNAI: As Sudha Umashankar, storyteller and founder, Story Corner at Bookmine opened the stage for an evening of storytelling on what couples went through when pregnancy was elusive, she said, “It is estimated that infertility affects 10 to 14% of the Indian population. There are several reasons for these infertility issues — from erratic work schedules to the food we eat, it all adds up.”
Arun Oliver, another popular storyteller from the city narrates his personal account. “I got married in 2007. After a point, my wife and I realised that we weren’t able to bear a child and came under scrutiny by family and the society. As a man, I felt it was an insult to visit an infertility clinic,” he said, pointing to how films and the society fed the wrong notion that men can be considered ‘masculine enough’ only by their ability to make a baby. “In the early 90s, it was movies like Ejamaan that showed this,” he recalled.
Confessing that he wasn’t as evolved as he is now, he said, “A man who supports and helps his better half is a real man. Your manhood should not be determined by the ability to make your wife pregnant.”
After several visits to clinics and hospitals, and six Intrauterine inseminations (IUI) in a span of just one-and-a-half-years, Arun and his wife became proud parents of two boys. “It took years for us to have our children. We endured a lot — there was struggle, disappointment, pain and tears shed.” he said showing the audience a framed pregnancy bill. “I framed it as a reminder of our grief,” he smiled and went on to show us another frame: “This was the most happiest moment of our lives. Our first child and the happy mother. When we saw him and when I first held him in my hand, all the pain and insult that we had gone through didn’t matter,” he added.
Dr Puvithra T, an IVF specialist shared her experience on treating a woman in her early 20s, who was diagnosed with endometriosis, a disorder in which the tissue that lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. “She was married for three years and couldn’t get pregnant. She had huge endometriotic cysts,” she narrated. After several hysterosalpingography investigations and two cycles of IUI, Lakshmi* gave up. “She had recurrent endometriosis, only 25% of ovaries and had an open tube,” shared Pavitra.
Later, with Lakshmi’s consent, the doctor opted for an IVF (In Vitro fertilisation). “The first cycle of IVF failed and she was extremely depressed. We gave her a lot of counselling and three months later, she came back. We did a frozen embryos transfer and she conceived!” smiled Puvithra. “It’s such stories of hope that enable other couples to keep trying,” she shared.
But, not all couples have had a happy ending. “I know couples who have come to terms with the fact that they can’t bear children and have turned to adoption. Some stay childless forever,” she sighed.
As the emotionally stirring event came to a conclusion, Sudha added, “The journey for couples who go through infertility process is hard and often lonely. As friends, we need to step in and offer them all the support that we can. They shouldn’t suffer in silence.”
(*Name changed on request)
Ray of hope
Persistence is that one quality that anyone going through an infertility
process needs. It’s also the support of the society and family that they look for