Monday, 18 June 2012

The old beggar woman

Her wrinkled face and hazy eyes look out wistfully at passersby as she sits on the dusty pavement. Her nine yards 'Saree' is draped over her head and a few glass bangles tinkle as she raises her palm to catch the coin dropped in her palm by someone who has taken pity on her state. The old beggar woman sits there everyday  in the same place, her cloudy eyes searching for a loving face, in this fast moving world.

I have seen her everyday for the past 20 days. She sits outside the building where my driving school is based, with the look of resignation and helplessness in those milky eyes. Some days I drop a few coins in her hand and other days I get her Bananas and other soft fruit which she can eat with her toothless mouth.

In the hustle and bustle of life, not many of us stop and think of people like the beggar woman. A few coins dropped in needy hands takes care of the guilt and we forget them on our way to better and brighter things. For most of us, they are a part of the landscape and melt into oblivion. This time, something in me, prompted me to stop and think about this beggar woman.

Few days ago, I spoke to her and asked her who she was. 'Janabai' was abandoned by her son. She is a widow and lives alone without any support. She begs to feed herself and gets by with the kindness of strangers. My few questions brought tears in her eyes and her voice quivered when she answered my questions. Her life is filled with the worry of how to arrange for food everyday and medicines needed for her old age. 

I want to help her, but I know putting a few rupees in her hands will be of no use. I want to do something for her which will improve her life. I want her to be safe and secure.  Her face haunts me everyday.

Dear friends, I want you all to take a pause and think of 'Janabai' today. I want your help to help 'Janabai'. I want your suggestions and guidance. Anyone who has any experience in charity work, your inputs would be most welcome. 

Monday, 11 June 2012

My Experiments with Infertility

How many kids do you have?
Arre married for long and no kids?
You don’t want kids?
It is time you both  started a family.
When are you planning to have kids?
Planning chodo and now have a child.

My husband and I have faced this litany of questions all the years we have been married. Most of the times these questions are asked by family and friends, and at other times by nosy busy bodies who have too much interest in other people’s lives.

I had been thinking of writing this post for many days now,but always stopped as I did not know how my family will react to this post. I finally gathered the strength to write the post, for all the people who have been in my place and have had to struggle with the agonising fact that they will never be able to have their own biological child/children. Writing this post has acted as catharsis for me.

After 12 years of marriage, I had to face this brutal truth. I had to undergo a battery of tests and procedures over a period of two years which included Laparoscopic surgery, three IUI’s and three cycles of IVF to be declared ‘Infertile’. I was diagnosed with a disease called ‘Adenomyosis’ which causes of infertility.

Mayo Clinic says ‘Adenomyosis (ad-uh-no-my-O-sis) occurs when endometrial tissue, which normally lines the uterus, exists within and grows into the muscular wall of the uterus. This happens most often late in your childbearing years after having children.
Adenomyosis differs from endometriosis — a condition in which the uterine lining becomes implanted outside the uterus — although women with adenomyosis often also have endometriosis. The cause of adenomyosis remains unknown, but the disease typically disappears after menopause. For women who experience severe discomfort from adenomyosis, certain treatments can help, but hysterectomy is the only cure.

In my case,  ‘Adenomyosis’ cripples me every month for 5 days and I go through my own personal hell. I am unable to move from my own bed because of severe abdominal cramps. I am homebound and many a times have had to rush to the hospital to get help for the pain. I have been having this problem since past 5 years but got to know the reason only two years back.

The past two years have been an eye opener for me as I never knew I had the determination and the courage to go through so many procedures. Hubs stood by me like a rock and has been my pillar of strength. Trying to find an answer for infertility is a difficult journey riddled with self doubt, anger and disappointment. I met countless other women at the hospital where I was taking the treatment. I could read their faces so easily as I had the same look, that of hope and anxiety on my face everyday.

After every failed IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and IVF cycle (In vitro fertilisation),  I went into a negative phase where it became difficult to cope with the loss. It was difficult to communicate with friends and family as most asked me to stay positive but could hardly relate to my situation. Even friends who had been through the same situation, instead of being a support had moved on and instead of being empathetic and supportive were more into narrating that I will get over it as they did. 

Many people started giving me advice at the drop of a hat. Why don’t you adopt?  Just be positive and you never know you might get pregnant?  Being a parent is important whether it is your own or adopted.

I had to nod or say ‘Yeah’, whereas all the while I wanted to ask them ‘Why didn't they adopt? Why did they try for their own child? Adoption is a solution for childlessness but not infertility. I craved for the whole experience of bearing a child.

The whole process of trying to  cope with infertility and trying for a child is one filled with self doubt, guilt and helplessness. Added to that, the spate of hormones, the daily injections, medicines and endless number of times you have to undergo ultrasonography puts additional stress in your life. Your emotions are on a rollercoaster ride and you are literally in the state of suspended animation. You don’t have control over your life and your own body.

For me, every cycle of procedure started with anxiety over the success, being hopeful after the procedure was done and total hopelessness when the result was negative. This upheaval of emotions made it difficult for me to function normally. I had terrible mood swings, aches and pains in my body coupled with constant stress. I could not concentrate anywhere. I literally lost my sense of humour and even the desire to blog.

Today, I am still in the mourning process and trying to cope everyday. The sight of children makes me uneasy. My eyes mist over when I see small babies. I start crying when I see ads for baby products and get irritated with myself for being so sensitive.

My experiments with infertility have been quite difficult but all the while the support and love of Hubs has kept me sane. Till last month, we were completely focused on having a child and suddenly now life feels aimless.

Slowly, I am trying to bring back life on track. There are many things to learn, explore and enjoy. I am learning to drive a car  and have joined ‘Yoga’ classes for harmony and peace. Hubs and I want to go on a Holiday. I want to start blogging regularly.

This prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr has inspired me a lot and gives me strength.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference

I know, life does not end just because we are unable to have a child.

In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.
                                                                                       - Robert Frost

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