You and I know this for a fact. In our clime, when a couple does not call us for a naming ceremony in the first or second year of their marriage, we automatically think, it is the woman who cannot have children. We might think about the man maybe somewhere down the line, but it has to be the woman. Newsflash! The woman also automatically thinks she is the one.
It does not matter that no tests have been done, it does not matter that no doctor has given them a verdict of infertility. It does not even matter if the problem is eventually from the man. No, it does not matter. She would have done enough thinking for the both of them, on why they are not conceiving, and concluded it must be her problem.
She is the one who is ashamed and trying to hide from plain sight. She avoids in-laws for fear of them, asking her about the reasons for the delay in expanding the family’s dynasty. She avoids friends, because she does not like their pitying looks and gets angry at the news or sight of one of them pregnant. She might even begin to avoid her own family, because of their helpful hints that she could well do without.
Has it ever crossed your mind that before a man thinks, or is asked one question about, infertility, more than ten questions would have been asked of the woman. More often than not, the woman starts the investigation into why she is not pregnant before the man is involved in any screening. That is the reality of our lives and it all boils down to traditional expectations of what a woman should be doing or not.
That was the experience of a woman I know, who thought she was the reason why she and her husband were not having kids. For years, the questions were directed at her; she bore the looks, and gave excuses on their behalf. Meanwhile, her dear husband was not interested in going for any screening. He believed that God’s time was the best, so she kept on making excuses for them. Not until, it became a huge fight between her and her in-laws after five years of marriage, without children, did her husband agree to go the hospital, where it was discovered that he was also partly to be blamed for the couple’s infertility. Thankfully, their challenge was something that was caused by untreated sexual diseases. which were dealt with, and today, they have a child. So at least she can breathe again.
For, another lady however, the story has not ended. Her in-laws do not question her, her friends try as much as possible to include her in their activities but she has withdrawn. Now, it is all about her business, movie dates with fellow women who are TTC, and of course time with her husband.
You can guess the subject of discussion at their movie dates. It might not be fair to call it a pity party. I think coping mechanism would be a better name for it. But instead of watching the movie, it always ends up an opportunity to discuss their individual TTC challenges.
One of them told the rest that, while chatting with her sister-in-law who lives abroad, she had told her, ‘Once e happen like this, I go just ship diapers over to Nigeria in bulk.’ An odd thing to say considering she hasn’t gotten pregnant yet. That led to a range of reactions from the other TTC women.
The pressure of not having a child can make a woman begin to dig into her past, her family history, looking for answers. A young lady had once asked her mother, if there ever was any one in her family, who had suffered from infertility. Her mother looked at her askance and proceeded to tell her how many twins and triplets they have in her family, then rejected infertility for her and the prayers started. At the end of the day, she wished she had not asked the question.
The woman is always the one, who often has to drink the herbal concoctions that well meaning family members bring. When suggestions come up about seeing one doctor or the other, she is already out the door, even without knowing the address. All because somewhere in mind, she thinks she is responsible. More so, if she has ever had an abortion, smoked, or done any thing that might have impaired her fertility.
This brings to mind a testimony that a woman recently gave in a church. She said, while in school, she was into smoking, drinking, and irresponsible sex. After she had cleaned up her act, doctors had told her, she might never be able to have kids, because of the state of her reproductive system.
But nah! Few months after she got married, she was pregnant and had three boys in the space of four years, even though she had serious health issues like high blood pressure and all the works, while she was pregnant. But ultimately, she had fears that her past would finally catch up with her in the area of having kids and was so grateful, when she it was so easy for her to conceive.
I know it might not sink in now, because we are so used to blaming ourselves when certain aspects of our family life don’t go as we planned. In fact, we start blaming ourselves before others do. So, by the time others come in with their poke-nosing; we have already built a very thick skin.
Women are not always to blame when infertility comes up in a family. A research on infertility showed that approximately one-third of infertility is attributed to the female partner; one-third attributed to the male partner and one-third is caused by a combination of problems in both partners or, is unexplained.
Just in case you still doubt, know this, blame does not help, in fact cannot help you in your TTC journey. You need a champion mindset on that journey. Before you go on your next self-blame set, remember “Fix the problem, not the blame.”