As I sat, listening to experts at a seminar two Saturdays ago, I couldn’t help but imagine our society knowing more about most of what was being communicated at the meeting. I particularly enjoyed listening to two women share their stories through infertility, their challenges and eventual triumphs. It was so beautiful watching people from far and near, talk about fertility from every angle possible…but of course, we were so open because we understood. We shared that common bond and resonated at the sound of that common word; Infertility. Would we, however, be open to discussing such issues if it were within a general gathering? I would strongly doubt that. Society is still so negative and ignorant that none of us would want to put ourselves out there, and be the brunt of judgment and ridicule.
However, I believe that by sharing our different stories, we reach out to one more individual and create a ripple effect. For example, my aunt for whom I am currently on a Surrogacy journey had been asking me to be her gestational carrier for quite a bit of time, but I politely declined every time. During one of our hangouts, a member of our community shared her story and it touched me to the point of agreeing to carry my aunt’s embies. In sharing her story, she not only touched me, she changed my life and my aunt’s. I suddenly went from being selfish, to wanting as much change in my aunt as the wonderful woman had gotten in her own life. If it weren’t for her, I certainly would still be in my selfish zone, as time continued to slip past my aunt, who is nearing fifty. It is for the same reason, that I decided to keep, and share, my Surrogacy Diary with all of you…to touch someone, to inspire another, to encourage a third…and to enjoy the support and love that has overwhelmed me since the beginning.
A lot of times, I think about this community, and for every time a member shares her worries, her joy, her frustrations, her peace, her prayers and gets enveloped with the arms of several sisters; I am grateful that Nicole thought to do this. It would have been so easy for her to get her twin girls, continue with her day job, and face society as a SuperWoman…she could have probably even lied that she got pregnant naturally, and pretend she didn’t put in any effort into it. That was what society used to be…that’s the kind of thing society applauds; a woman who had luck, or does things effortlessly. Thankfully, her story has resonated in the hearts of thousands, and many and more are starting to come out of their shells. They now see that they are not alone…that everything they feel, and are going through, is a normal part of the process. And for every BFP that gets celebrated here, every effort that goes into keeping this site running becomes worth it.
We have only just scratched the surface however. There are millions of women still fighting their battles alone; still feeling so ashamed that they are not pregnant, when society dictates that they should be. Just the other day, I was at the hospital, waiting for my appointment, and a lady walked in. She was poshly dressed, her hair was wrapped in a silk scarf, and she had big dark goggles on. She spoke quietly to the receptionist, and took her seat, burying her head in a magazine she came with…her dark goggles still on. You could tell that she was ashamed to be there…and was trying hard to make sure no-one familiar recognized her. I watched her for a few minutes and then slipped a little note to her that said “You know, this is one place where you can let your guard down, everyone here is trying to conceive. No shame!” She looked up at me and smiled a sad smile, waving shyly. Her goggles were still on, when I went in to see the doctor. However, on my way out, I noticed she had taken it off and was quietly watching CNN.
The stigma is still there, and it probably would never leave until we start to speak up. Just the same way rapists once had a field day in Nigeria, because rape victims never came out to report, as a result of the stigma. Soon the message and campaign went round; it wasn’t the rape victim that should feel guilty, no-one deserved to be raped…no matter what you were wearing, no matter if you went to visit him. No means No. More and more people started to speak up…common people and celebrities alike and pro bono Lawyers and Human Rights Activists rose to the occasion. Now the incidences of rape reduce as the days go by, and even the Government has taken note. Rape is now a capital offense in Nigeria.
One of the things that struck me, however, in the seminar that Saturday, was when at least three speakers, who are all experts in Assisted Reproductive Technology, trained Urologists and Gynaecologists, admitted that there are no Laws or Policies in place to guide the ethics of the profession practiced in the country; that each hospital develops its own guiding ethics. In a country where one in every four couples has, or would battle, infertility; there are no legal structures to ensure that citizens are not exploited, and that ethics are upheld. When it comes to IVF for example, if left unchecked, abuse would fester. Fertility Doctors could keep urging patients to try cycle after cycle without restraint; whereas in more developed countries there is a maximum of how many IVF cycles a woman can undergo in her lifetime, for her health and safety.
Hopefully, as we share our stories, one couple at a time, someone powerful would take note and start a campaign within the Institution of Government, making the Mental and Psychological Health of the women in the society a priority. Until then, share your light with someone. You never know who needs to hear just what you have to say.
Godspeed to us all!
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here.