Over-ripe ovaries & Pappu ka Andaa: My Infertility Saga

I was brought up to believe that I came from a lineage of extremely fertile women. Somewhere I thought that my only problem in life would be to make sure I didn’t pop out more munchkins than I could juggle at once.

5 years into my marriage, I started planning. I announced it to the world, suffering from a disease called being “overly honest”, whenever anyone would inquire (and in India, everyone inquires!) Obviously, the time bomb started ticking, more loudly in my head than in anyone else’s.

After two years of no luck, my gynaec gave up and asked me to get our tests done. Both our tests came out fine. I felt so depressed as I spoke to friends, hearing one line repeatedly: “We conceived on our first try! We were so surprised!” I wanted to stuff a sock in some of their mouths because I clearly remember their baby planning time frame being much longer. Maybe every woman needs to view herself as a Fertility Goddess due to some innate psychological need to feel good.

Then started the long ordeal of scientific intervention. I went through a total of 9 IUIs (non-assisted and assisted) but to no avail. Every time I saw women with babies, I felt like a failure. Despite all the fancy degrees I had accumulated, I could not even do the most natural thing any illiterate woman could do! I flinched during poojas, when people sang “Jai Ganesh” when the part “Baanjan ko putra deth”* would come. It didn’t disgust me for the same reasons as before (being a feminist, I can’t stand this Indian obsession with sons) but also because I felt like everyone singing was talking about me- pitying me! Let’s just say this was my melodramatic, Bollywood avatar!

I remember when a very close pregnant friend, who knew about my struggle, proceeded to take me for all of her baby shopping. It’s amazing how intimidating little baby clothes with furry bears smiling up at you can seem when you’re in that situation. I remember running into the changing room, on some ridiculous pretext, and crying.

Finally, I gave up on the less invasive IUIs and went in for an IVF procedure. The days at the infertility clinic were interesting, to say the least, sitting in the waiting room with so many aspiring girls. As the days in each fertility cycle would progress, we would compare notes. We would discuss how many eggs we had produced this month, and how good the quality was, according to the doctor. Over many such conversations, I started realizing that I was the “Pappu” of the class- always last! You remember Dairy Milk’s ad where Amitabh Bachchan is elated when a balding Pappu finally passes his 12th standard exams, and BigB sings in shock, “Pappu pass ho gaya”? I was that Pappu- the big fat andaa** who couldn’t produce good andaas! I had the least eggs, and even if I managed a satisfactory basket, the quality was not up to the mark. My eggs were stamped as factory rejects, and the doc labelled my ovaries “that of a 40 year old!” (when I was 30).

My in-laws and husband had always convinced me to stop all treatments, explaining to me, that we were fine as we were. My parents never pressurized me but felt like I should at least give science a chance.

After 2 unsuccessful IVFs, I was ready to give up! I had had enough. The injections were probably the worst part of the treatment because when you have to take one every day, even the doctor administering it no longer sympathizes with you. You feel like a cow on a dairy factory line up, being inhumanely poked with hormonal injections and then they’re onto the next cow waiting in line. I even started resembling a cow! The mood fluctuations were bugging! I was DONE: I had accepted that Pappu hadn’t passed but perhaps he had come to realize that he wasn’t academic after all. Maybe he could be a professional mechanic instead, or something like that?

I spent 6 months feeling depressed and wondering how Nandy and I could ever be complete without a child. Then I had my first little miracle. My sister told me that she had discussed it with my brother-in-law and they were willing to have a child (theirs) and give it to me. I didn’t even know what to say. I knew I didn’t want her to do that, but the fact that she was willing to, was the biggest gift that anyone could give me. That was a game changer.

After this incident, I started to feel some peace because I finally understood that I had been holding onto one thing for so long that I had neglected appreciating all the blessings God had showered upon me. I didn’t want to have a “sour grapes” mentality but I definitely needed to appreciate the positive in my life: that I could travel as often as I wished, that I didn’t have to share my husband with anyone (Nandy-obsessed me!), that there was less noise in my life, and that no one was wiping their snotty nose on my “dry clean only” dress every time I got ready. Let’s just say- I pulled myself out of the “have-nots” and started focussing on what I had: I started loving the silence… and my space!

There was also a spiritual realization that occurred. I had studied at a Convent school, and we often sang the hymn “I surrender all”. My father-in-law explained to me that when Vaishnavs say “Shri Krishna sharnam mamah”, it means the same thing: “Krishna, I take shelter within you. Do with me as you think best.” I surrendered all to God: trusting that he had better plans for me, I was stress-free!

6 months later, as I packed for my room-mate’s wedding in Santorini, I sensed I might be pregnant. I told my husband that maybe we should cancel the trip but he dismissed it, saying that was impossible because if all the treatment hadn’t worked, how could we suddenly be pregnant naturally? I got on the flight, and spent my entire trip in a daze of severe nausea and exhaustion! To the extent, that till now, just mentioning Greece or waving a gyro in my face, is the best way to see me double over in nausea. 5 days into the holiday, when I peed on the stick, I wasn’t surprised that it came up positive. It had finally happened and I was happy but I can’t say I was ecstatic. I had truly surrendered everything to God and whatever (S)He had chosen for me, I was up for the ride!

Although, I must admit, my spiritual serenity left me the moment I came back and rushed to get a sonography. As I saw that little kidney bean on the screen, and heard her heartbeat, my heart soared. I could no longer think “higher” thoughts. My mind was fluff and the only jingle that kept going through my mind was Amitabh’s voice singing to me, “Pappu pass ho gaya!”***

* Bless all infertile women with sons.
** Andaa literally means egg but is also used colloquially to mean zero.
***Pappu Pass Ho Gaya (Pappu has passed his exam!) ad link http://youtu.be/HIpnpO00Ohs

32 thoughts on “Over-ripe ovaries & Pappu ka Andaa: My Infertility Saga”

  1. Such a lovely read! It so good to come across fun and happy moms, who are willing to lighten up and share their experience! I’m a new mommy blogger too, do look me up when you can 🙂

  2. What an honest write up! My story is somewhat the opposite, and yet depressing in its own way. A baby that happened unplanned and at a time when I was undergoing some big changes in life. I tried to comfort myself by telling myself that people have to try, whereas I got blessed with one without undergoing any struggle. But I struggled. I wasn’t ready and it seemed a mean, odd, horribly unmotherly feeling to not be ecstatic about my first pregnancy! I was unprepared for the physical changes and somehow mentally I was in a depressed state. Years after it passed, I realised that many of us (mostly women) undergo some pain around the entire motherhood process. People who have to try too hard, people who don’t, those who suffer miscarriages, have special children, complicated pregnancies, demanding in laws, an endless list, really. It’s a struggle for us to accept ourselves and our situation and one fine day, peace prevails. Children are indeed a blessing but it’s still a woman’s choice to define if that’s what completes her or not. Her own conviction is what will make or break her in the end.

    1. Beautifully said. It’s true- that there’s always some stress around having children. And just as each child is different, so is each woman/ mother- so maybe everyone doesn’t feel the same fulfillment through motherhood.

  3. Not only does it take so much courage to talk about one’s struggles so honestly but I can’t think of anyone else who could do it with such a good sense of humour and tell it so straight! I e always thought of you as a wonderful person, fantastic mom (I may have to come to you for lessons on how to be patient and see the humour in things to help keep my own sanity) but a perfect example of someone who has the courage to call a spade a spade – and normally you’re talking about yourself instead of taking digs at others. My respect for you goes up every single day Nidhi. Keep the words flowing – it’s always a pleasure to read your thoughts and to keep learning from you.

    1. Thanks for your words Preeti! So sweet and you make me feel so great! But in reality, no one should take parenting tips from me. I’m the most impatient and quick tempered mom in the world… And feel awful that I’m like this!
      Seeing how lovely your daughter is, I’m sure you’re a super mom!

  4. I can completely relate to you ! I had gone tru this ordeal for 10 long years ! Finally am blessed with our adorable twins who are 3.5 yrs old. God bless you and ur little one in abundance and you take very good care of yourself

  5. Congrats and I hope all goes well. Me and my wife had a miscarriage when we tried the first time. It is really very disheartening at times. On our second attempt, we had a baby girl who was delivered at around 24.5 weeks. She was so little and had a very small chance of survival. She was in nicu for approx 3 months. She is 14 months now and my God she is so lovely. We named her Myra :). We both wish you love and luck. Never loose hope.

    1. Thanks for your lovely response Ravi! I’m always doubly happy when I find father’s reading my posts. Just goes to show how involved dads are in their kids’ lives nowadays.
      Your wife and your story is one of hope- and blessed by the will of God, like mine! Thank you for your wishes. And best of luck to you and your beautiful family!

  6. Cld relate to each n evry wrd….as if I wrote the story, even my eggs were that of a 40 yr old, ganesh bhajan or baby announcements., I too felt the same .absolutely a grtt piece

  7. I have been through a similar saga as yours. But you have penned it down so wonderfully with a dash of humour, it really made a good read. All the best for motherhood

  8. Was so overwhelmed after reading your story…Bless you and your bundle of joy:-)
    I am sure your child will be proud to read this article one day…to know its mom’s undying spirit!

    1. Saswati- I started this blog not knowing if anyone would read but just because I wanted to pen down my daughter’s childhood while it was happening- with the hope that if no one else reads, at least she will… And enjoy it some day.
      Thank you!

  9. Your article hit home. Esp the “banjhan ko putra det” part. I used to cry every time my friends announced a pregnancy. For first kid, I had to do an IUI but fortunately it worked on 1st try. For second kid, it just hapenned!

    1. Thanks Pooja! Glad you could relate to it but also I’m super happy that you didn’t have to go in for more intense treatment to conceive your first born… And none at all for the second

  10. You have written it so well. I really liked the humour you could pull out in this situation. Also, I like your spirit.

  11. Just try ……..and be hopefull………i have got twins in 2nd IUI…….the day u think ……it will not happen will neglect ur trys……. best of luck ladies…..

    1. Thanks Karan! Your words are encouraging! And you’re completely right- things don’t necessarily happen just because you think they should. God will send things our way at the right time. Congrats on the twins!

  12. Nidhi… Just loooovvvvveeee reading ur blog… So so truely believe in “It happens … Whats meant to happen”
    Over honest
    God bless

  13. Thanks for sharing Nidhi..
    i love reading your blog though have never commented before.
    Baby A is obviously a determined young lady like her mom and she had to make her way through! So many young women go through this struggle and it must have been so difficult for you at that time.
    I like how you have managed to convey it so beautifully.

    1. Thanks so much Aditi! Honestly, baby A is a true fighter. When my hubby decided that we should fly, my biggest fear was that if I’m pregnant, and I lose the baby because of the traveling, my mom will kill me because it would be such a silly risk to travel in the first trimester. But we still went because he convinced me I was imagining things. When I got back, I got my blood test done and the count (the strength of the pregnancy) was so high (for how far I was along in the pregnancy) that my overly complacent gynaec shouted on the phone when she heard the number. My trip had been quite hectic but baby A persisted. And how! When God finally gives you what you want, he doesn’t let anything go wrong.

  14. In times when almost everyone around seems to be relying on scientific intervention but few admit and share their experiences, it’s absolutely amazing to read this!

    ‘Overly Honest’ is a great thing Nidhi, love that about you!

    1. Thanks Chirag! Just hoping that this article makes people feel some sort of camaraderie- knowing other people go through similar situations. And also I hope it makes them laugh at life!

  15. Thank you for sharing this personal experience. Bring a mother can be intimidating and the scientific intervention can scare us. Yet we are willing to do all for those tiny little babies. But when it happens after all that wait , oh, it’s so good!!! I got mine just when I had completely given up and surrendered. My mil would consult the Astrologers and one of them had said that when the time is right it will happen but he went on about yog nahi hai for a while which irritated me but realised later that is true.

    1. It happens if it’s meant to happen- and when it’s supposed to happen!
      Thanks for sharing your story. I just hope this article makes people laugh at their own life situations. Why take life so seriously? If we can find the humour, we can keep our sanity!

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