Contrary to opinion, women are the privileged sex. God gives them the privilege to give birth. To become mothers. To experience that marvel where a ‘tiny’ human pushes its way out of a ‘big’ one; learns to survive on its own yet remains attached to it for the rest of its life. For women, having a child is by far the most beautiful experience in the world.
Then there are those who desperately want to become mothers but their bodies have other plans. Those who had never envisaged they would be dealing with years of infertility. Those who have secretly wanted to become mothers all their life.
They say it is difficult to describe to the fertile world what infertility feels like. But for her, it has been the most important objective of life. Without saying much, I introduce to you my second guest on ‘What’s your story?’ – Bali D. Sanghvi, wife, mother of twin boys, a profound chocoholic and author of My Frozen Embryo which chronicles her struggle with infertility. Bali resides in ‘The City of Joy’ – Kolkata, India.
I am just a regular woman, passionate about life and the little things in it: ice cream, the smell of the earth after rain, tea with lemon grass and tulsi, books, visiting new places, water and children. Yes, children.
My story is that of an ordinary woman who dreamt of having her own children one day, only to realize that it is not only dreams that help get what you want, but the hardships, decisions and heartbreaks that come with it.
How long did you try naturally before realizing there was a problem?
We tried for a year, roughly. Despite having no success, fertility treatment was the last thing on my mind. Like numerous other women, I was in denial.
Take us through what you went
The year 2009 was when it was finally time to face my worst fear and visit a fertility doctor. Even then, a huge part of me wanted to postpone the inevitable. Consciously disallowing my ‘heart’ to rule my ‘mind’, I found myself face-to-face with the specialist soon after.
The initial discussion with him put me at ease instantly. However, what was to follow was anything but easy. I did not realize when a routine, gynecological check-up transformed into the most trying times of my life. Numerous painful blood tests, medications that were taken orally and vaginally, injections that were self-administered, testing on ‘period days’, subjecting the body to fertility procedures month after month, the negative pregnancy tests and tears that followed soon after became a major part of my life. I lived and breathed every minute in the hope that all of this will be worth it eventually.
How many attempts of treatment did you undergo? Your feelings when you finally made it.
Over a span of 1 year, I underwent 7 intra-uterine inseminations, 1 laparoscopy and 2 IVF cycles before I finally conceived twins. The mental journey was far more exhausting than the physical one.
It was on July 12, 2010 when I was given the ‘good news’. We had finally made it- I was pregnant with twins! Within moments of hearing this, those months of pain and hardship seemed frivolous. I was calm. I felt victorious. Was it the end of the journey for me? Or was it the beginning of a new one? The feeling was uncanny.
Support from family and friends
My husband and in-laws stood by me during this difficult time in my life. Incidentally, this was also the time when my mother’s health was slowly deteriorating to Parkinson’s disease. Emotionally, she was unable to help me even though she would have wanted to. It was my mother-in-law who graciously stepped into her shoes and was always there by my side. My father was not a keen supporter of the treatments I was undergoing.
When I was going through all those fertility treatments, I had no one to fall back on. I had no book to read. I did not have anyone to tell me how a procedure would take place. It was then, that I decided that educating women facing this problem was important. It was this thought that gave birth to my book.
Also, when it comes to dealing with infertility, people are scared. They somehow feel it is below their dignity to be spotted at a fertility clinic. For women, the subject is taboo while for men it is equated with questioning their manliness. This ‘ignorant’ attitude results in them not seeking out help. These are the men and women I wanted to reach out to. By telling my story, I wanted them to have something they could relate to, something they could fall back on and something that could prepare them, physically and mentally for what lies ahead.
My Frozen Embryo chronicles the story of my empty womb, my struggle, my acceptance of being tagged as ‘a woman who could not conceive naturally’, the physical and emotional pain that finally led to a twin pregnancy and motherhood. It is an answer to all those couples undergoing fertility treatment highlighting the mental and emotional pain as well as explanations to procedures through a series of photographs.
Tips for others in a similar position as yours
Acceptance is critical here. It is important to accept that something could be wrong; to accept that you are unable to conceive naturally and most importantly, that it is no sin to seek assistance. What matters is that, you are given a chance to be a parent.
At the moment, my life revolves around my children. However, in an attempt to further my cause, I counsel on my own under the name ‘Avrrti’ which means revolution in birth.
As an infertility & child counselor and educator, my main aim is counsel couples undergoing fertility treatment both emotionally and clinically, to assist women cope with pregnancy and child-birth, and finally prepare the family at large, to live up to the challenges of parenthood in the best possible way. We have a team of qualified professionals who will help you, help yourselves in each of the above mentioned stages.
I also run a book rental library in Kolkata which conducts educational workshops for children.
Why do you consider yourself to be a geek?
I WANT to tell my story. I want to reach out to and pull those women in hiding to face the world with dignity and strength. I am determined to let people know that once you choose hope, anything’s possible.
Bali is someone I have known since my school days. I remember her as a docile, helpful girl with an ever-smiling face and expressive eyes and it amazes me to see her how much she has grown as an individual. I can imagine how dealing with fertility can be painful in itself; however, it must take exceptional courage to expose your inner-most feelings to the world, not knowing how it would be interpreted. To this, I must add, that the sheer grace and dignity with which she has dealt with her mother’s death a few months ago only re-enforces the fact that she is a woman of power and strength.
To know more about the book or order a copy for yourself, please visit www.bali-myfrozenembryo.com. Kindle and Paperback editions of the book can be ordered on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles as well. To contact Bali, you can email her on firstname.lastname@example.org.