According to the Indian Society of Assisted Reproduction, infertility affects roughly 10 to 14 percent of the Indian population, with numbers higher in metropolitan areas, where one out of every six couples is impacted.
Given these figures, one might expect a more open dialogue about the issue, yet the struggle to have a child is still riddled with irrational stigmas and misunderstanding among those who haven’t lived it. Despite the existence of in vitro fertilisation (IVF), the individual undergoing treatment is left to deal with the physical and mental trauma that can follow the process.
Here are some of the women who have shared their IVF experiences to dispel myths regarding the procedure.
1. “I always thought that my MIL liked me and that I got along very well with her until last week. My husband and I were married last June. We had talked about hopefully having kids, so we went straight to IVF due to our ages—39 for me, and 43 for him. I won’t lie-I was surprised at how hard the IVF process was for me emotionally and mentally. Lots of ups and downs, including one miscarriage. I did become depressed from it. When I came home following the phone call, my husband asked for a divorce. My MIL and SIL had talked to him, and now they think all of his anxiety will go away as soon as we’re divorced.”
2. “The journey has been anything, but easy. It affects you mentally as well because you want to become a mother, and when things don’t work out, you are disheartened. We are currently on our fifth IVF cycle and hope to continue till the doctor advises us to go for it. If it does not work out, we will either opt for surrogacy or adopt a child.”
3. “People thought that I opted for surrogacy because I did not want to ruin my figure. But actually, I did lose my figure and health. I was taking injections during IVF and that took a toll on me. I went from a size 24 to a size 32. But I gave up, neither on motherhood nor on my health. “
4. “It’s a fundamentally stressful process. I had a best-case scenario experience (2 cycles, 6 PGS-normal embryos, the first transfer worked, baby healthy), but I still had to get a major surgery 6 months before I started, delay transfer to have a polyp removed, and suffer insomnia and mood swings from the meds. It was all 100% worth it and I’d do it again in a heartbeat to have my boy, but there are no guarantees.”
5. “Had my third transfer yesterday, and I cried throughout the entire procedure. The pain of needles and surgeries has been nothing compared to the emotional instability.”
6. “I was surprised by the negative impact it had on my sex life afterwards, as I was associating it (sex) with the trauma of such invasive and often heart-breaking procedures. After many counselling sessions, we got through it. I think this happens to many women but isn’t spoken about or discussed widely.”
7. “The most surprising was the insensitive comments from my best friends. When a cycle didn’t work out and my world came crashing down again, I would get comments like ‘bummer’, which really downplayed my feelings. I now have two children from donor eggs, and one of my best friends has talked about their ‘mother’ which really upset me. She is a donor; I am their mother.”
8. “I was surprised how the IVF journey can set you up for post-natal depression and bonding issues – there was so much expectation, wanting and yearning, and the reality was isolation, poverty, sleep deprivation, poo and spew!”
9. “I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years. We have been trying for the past year to get pregnant with no luck. After many tests, I have found that it will be impossible for me to get pregnant the natural way. The doctor is recommending IVF. My boyfriend is telling me that IVF is not natural and he doesn’t want a child conceived that way. I am trying to understand his point of view, but I cannot. He wants a child of his own, and we have a chance at doing that. In the end, it is still our child. How it was conceived shouldn’t matter. He is considering ending our relationship over something I cannot control, and that is not fair.”
10. “My nana has said multiple times throughout my pregnancy that she wasn’t sick a single day with any of her kids and that it’s because God knew how much she wanted a baby. Okay, I guess us going through IVF doesn’t indicate how badly we want a baby? I have no control over being sick… lol.”
11. “When I asked people on Facebook to call their reps on the personhood bill so IVF wouldn’t be outlawed, my MIL sent my husband and me a four-page, single-spaced letter that ended with, “I hope the extra embryos you have bring great sadness to all involved.”
12. “I was at a friend’s wedding on the day I got my period after IUI, so I was already really upset. At the reception, the bride announces she’s pregnant with a miracle baby (she had endo and acted like she understood IF but wasn’t diagnosed). After the announcement, the groom’s father comes over to me and says, ‘I guess my son beat you to it!’. I immediately ubered back to my hotel and rage-cried alone.”