“Being childless before having kids or going through infertility is not the same as being childless after infertility. My life and how I approach it and live it are very different than how it was before infertility.
Someone who went through infertility, and who is a parent now, doesn’t know what it is like to be childless after infertility.”
The above is the paraphrase of a conversation thread on Twitter, and that last sentence broke me literally. I was doing my virtual stroll on Twitter late that night but I couldn’t get past last statement. It was all I could think about, and it meant the end of my social media runs for the day.
I kept thinking about what kind of life it must be to go through infertility, the whole treatments, and still end up childless, with next to no hope of having one…at least the way you would like.
Unfortunately, that was that was that Twitter User’s reality, and in a way, it was a reality that was quite close to home too.
Before the name Tito became mainstream, it was the favourite phrase of a then middle aged woman I know. She would scream, “Titobioluwa oh” meaning the greatness of God at every situation. Because I’m sharing her story today, I will call her Tito.
As a child, the fact that Tito and her besotted husband didn’t have children never bothered me. But then, I didn’t understand the concept of infertility either. As I got older, Tito and her husband were just the couple whom my mom asked us to pray for once in a while, for them to have their own children. My sisters and I eagerly prayed for them. They were a nice couple. They are still nice. They are still one of the few older couples who still bug my mom about my sisters and I, and even our children.
Let’s say it took me almost two decades to realise that they were TTC, and now, it’s almost a given that they will probably die childless…at least with no biological children of their own, even though they have many adopted children around the world.
Their journey to their present circumstance started several years ago, when they first got married. From my parents, I learnt they had both come from wealthy families, who had not been supportive of their relationship, strictly based on tribal grounds.
Tito and her beau, Tunde, had tried to get their parents buy-in, but when it wasn’t happening, and their fathers dug in their feet, the love birds left town, relocated abroad and got married.
Several years later, they came back to Nigeria and their parents still simply refused to acknowledge their marriage, so they moved to a different city and started life there.
It was in this new city that they formed new relationships, made new friends and buddies for themselves and where they met my parents too.
By this time, they had been married for over five years, but in that time, they had never been pregnant. Not even once. And it wasn’t a source of worry, but I think having new friends and families, who were popping babies ever so often, must have gotten to them, as they soon got consumed with baby fever.
They visited the doctors, but the results weren’t pleasant and, worse, it didn’t result in a baby. Rather, Tito suffered miscarriages after miscarriages, and after one particularly nasty incident, her womb had to be removed to save her life.
That was their call to say good bye to becoming parents.
I can only imagine what it must feel like for them. They must have wondered if their fathers had an inkling this was going to happen, hence their refusal to give their blessings to their union.
They must have wondered if their infertility was punishment for not heeding the advice of their fathers. I’m pretty sure different thoughts must have gone through their minds, but whatever they had thought or didn’t think about, one thing was sure; they are a picture perfect couple.
They would have even wondered if the universe hadn’t meant that they have children together and if they were supposed to adopt. Tito and her loverboy didn’t adopt but they have been parents to many children who are young adults today, and credit them with playing a pivotal role in their lives. I’m a living testimony.
They still go to the market together, finish off each other’s statements, call each other’s name and add “Dear” in that loving tone that speaks of an eternal bond.
Tito and Tunde may not have children after having gone through infertility, but their love for each other is unmistakeable and will last them for the rest of their lives.
Moving on to younger folks, Nancy’s mother suffered countless miscarriages in her reproductive years but ended up having six children, Nancy inclusive. So you can say that she has experienced infertility first hand.
When infertility reared its head in Nancy’s life, her mom was like her first go-to-person. Not only was it easy to talk to her mom, she was also living proof that her infertility could be overcome, and fingers crossed she would.
If only she knew the challenges that lay ahead of her. If only her mother knew the challenges that were ahead, perhaps she wouldn’t be so optimistic or maybe not. Moms can’t help wishing for the best for their children.
Long story short, Nancy has been diagnosed with endometriosis, bilateral tubal blockage, PCOS and everything else in the book…really. She has dealt with scarring and adhesions from repeated surgeries. She has become an IVF veteran, never mind countless IUIs. She has consciously stopped counting the failed cycles or the chemical pregnancies, or the early term losses. It has been nine years of trial and error, numerous hospital visits, several doctors’ opinions, but one thing hasn’t changed, she hasn’t left her starting point.
This is suddenly worsened by her recent discovery that every single one of her exes is now married with children.
It might seem a strange thought but it hurts where it matters most.
At least for now, Nancy is taking a break, as she tries to take stock of the past years, recover from the financial strain of fertility treatments and, fingers crossed, hop right back on the IVF wagon.
When you are still childless after infertility, your perspective on life is simply different. That is the case of Nancy and her mother. At a certain point, there was only so much support Nancy could get from her mom (not momma’s fault), afterall, she’s got six living children, while Nancy is yet to even have one.
Life after infertility, while you are still childless, is not necessarily harder or painful; it is just well…different.
Sending loads of babydust to all going-to-get-pregnant mommas.
Rooting for your BFP!
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here