Infertility
Shutterstock/Michael Pettigrew

Five years, no kids: was something wrong with us?

Three years into their marriage, Saurabh* and Shivani* were being constantly interrogated about why they weren’t having a child. Tired of it all, they decided to try for a child, but it wasn't as easy as the world had led them to believe.

Blissful marriage, almost

I met Saurabh through a relative, who had suggested his name to my mom when she was ‘looking’ for a match for me. We met at my place, in the presence of our parents and ‘dated’ each other for one year before tying the knot. I found a friend in Saurabh, who loved me and helped me build an independent career. He also shared household work, helping me with the cooking and dropping me to my college – where I worked as a lecturer. And my day could never really begin without his wonderful coffee.

We were living in a world of our own, loving each other and enjoying our lives. We used to work hard all week and look forward to the weekend when we would go out to watch movies, eat out and even have holidays in the hills. How three years passed, we never realised. The question of having a child was at the back of our minds. But we never zeroed in on a time.

I was 29 and Saurabh was 32 when we got married. We decided to delay the entry of a child into our lives for a couple of years because we both wanted to enjoy our lives with each other first. We both were content with our decision until one day when my mother-in-law visited us and shed tears of despair. She wanted to cuddle her grandchild and told us that she could not wait any longer. It was time to have a child, she told us. And as if she had opened the floodgates – no relatives or friends would now pass the opportunity to ask us why we were not having a child! When do we get to be grandparents, uncles or aunts – they would constantly badger. Caving into the never-ending nagging, we decided to start trying. And just like that, our ‘blissful’ married life was no more.

Whose fault is it

Our weekends were now spent having sex, trying to conceive a baby. We were always talking about my next fertile period. The dates we should ‘try’ were the only dates on our minds now. What to Expect was now a bedtime read and the movies such as Nine Months played on our video player, almost on a loop.

We had lots of sex for the next two years. But my periods continued to come without fail.

One day we were so exasperated that we decided to visit a doctor to find out what was wrong with us. He advised us to get fertility tests done and we found out that Saurabh had a low sperm count.

It took a lot of effort for us to accept that one of us was infertile. And it even took more efforts to share the reports with our parents. It was not Saurabh’s fault as he had no control over the situation but it was embarrassing for him. But if I was sure of anything at this point, it was my love for him, which grew stronger with each passing day. We were together in this and decided to solve the situation than just cry about it.

The biological way

For the first few weeks, we could not sleep much because of the stress. Saurabh and I were in no mood to make love either as we had had so much sex in last two years that we almost forgot what it was like to have sex without any motive! But we both still cuddled each other and slept. One Sunday morning, we decided to explore other options.

The doctor told us that we could either go ahead with IVF or adopt a child. We decided to share the options with our family. There was a lot of pressure from our family members to take the IVF route. But we decided to be practical.

A session of IVF would have cost a bomb. It would have also required me to take off from work, not only during the process of conception but also thereafter. And even after a complete cycle of IVF, there was no guarantee that I would get pregnant. If the process failed, we would have to just start all over again and wait. Was I ready for any of this?

No different to bearing my own

No, I finally decided. I had waited long enough to get pregnant. I did not have the patience anymore. Saurabh too agreed. Marriage is not just about having kids, we both felt. It is to live a life together and in this pursuit to have a child, we had almost forgotten to do just that.

After much thought, we decided to adopt a child. But rather than rushing through the application forms we took our time with the process - leafing through documents, applying at specific institutes, applying for leave from work, hiring help and building a room for our new baby. It took us around nine months to get through the process and when our baby came to us it felt no different to bearing one in my own belly.

Not many people are willing to adopt a child. Questions about caste, skin colour and genetic diseases come up. Saurabh and I knew we too would face many questions but we used the prep time to take our families through the process and set their expectations.

Sharanya came to us as a healthy toddler and we couldn’t have been happier. She was also an instant hit –  both her grandmothers waiting patiently for their turn to cuddle their granddaughter to sleep.

Names changed.

Persons in the picture are models.

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