Tuesday, December 12, 2017

In the book of Genesis when God created man and woman, plants and animals, one of His orders was for them to be fruitful and multiply. And they did. But you would think with such a divine order God would enable us all to do so, right? And this same God blessed a woman’s womb at over 100 years old as in Rachel’s case who suffered long and hard to bear a child.

The fact that He made the ‘Immaculate Conception’ possible, should it not be the case for all infertile women, right? And before you all start hurling stones to martyr me think of the words of Nicole when she was asked about her infertility struggle: “I am a good and active Christian who is just wondering what am I being punished for when my one true desire is to have children and grow them up in the fear and admonition of the one true God…”

Many women and men all over the world deal with infertility on a daily basis and though the reasons for this may vary, the struggles bear resemblances. But first what is infertility? It is referred to as the inability to conceive after having regular unprotected sex. Infertility can also refer to the biological inability of an individual to contribute to conception, or to a female who cannot carry a pregnancy to full term. And in many countries if a couple is unable to conceive after a year of trying, they may be rendered infertile. Studies indicate that slightly over half of the cases are as a result of female conditions, while the rest are caused by either sperm disorders or unidentified factors.

We just came out of the holy Lenten season, but for many couples the wilderness seems never ending. For Easter, while many are out partying and downing some bun and cheese along with fish and bread, many are having a hard time digesting what Easter meant in ancient times.

Ishtar: pronounced “Easter” was originally the celebration of Ishtar, the Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility and sex. Her symbols (like the egg and rabbit) were and still are fertility and sex symbols. Well I’m sure you know by now those had nothing to do with the crucifixion and resurrection. So sex is never in short supply but as much as we have babies being born every day many couples are struggling to get and or stay pregnant.

Most times the relationship suffers from the increase in nagging and no shagging as the unavoidable desire to procreate presides. Richard was 34 years old when his marriage ended after 10 years of trying to conceive after his wife had a miscarriage. They were both rendered secondary infertile. He oftentimes talks of how it depresses him to attend baby showers, kid’s football matches, kid’s birthday parties or simply just taking on the role of god parenting. So he stays away from such.

Like Richard, Jennifer, though, loves children but her failure to conceive drained the fire she had to be around others and share in the celebratory moments of family and friends with children though she’s genuinely happy for them.

Both Richard and Jennifer sometimes question why ‘Mother Nature’ didn’t favour them. They have to try hard to believe in the God that bless underage, unfit, and people who don’t want any children, with them. (I agree it’s a mystery). Now she seeks alternative routes to fulfil this desire so as to shed the feeling of inadequacy as a woman and the depression that accompanies this.

With all the new developments in medicine, women and men cling desperately to this for hope. Some go to extreme lengths to accomplish fertility, such as going on spiritual fasting and prayers, visiting herbalists and even witch doctors; concoct elixirs, take in-vitro fertilisation, hormonal shots and pills. When all those fail they may even look to surrogacy.

When Jennifer was asked how she copes, she answers: “My husband and I have both done all the tests and it came back that the problem was really me. Well we have tried all the help our money can buy and though we have achieved many of our personal and relationship goals this one elephant is in the room with us always.

“I know he would love a seed of his own and I oftentimes hint at him, if he goes out to get a child, I would understand and welcome that child. Maybe because I couldn’t help feeling insecure but to date he hasn’t done so to my knowledge despite the direct and indirect pressure from friends and family. We are in the process of adoption and can hardly wait to take our son home first, then about another three years a daughter. I talk about it now with select friends and families and it does help to lift the weight of my infertility.”

For Richard things are much different. “My wife lost faith in the process because after spending money I had saved up to pay down on our home for several testings the doctors couldn’t diagnose a reason and we tried their prescribed drugs but nothing changed except for us being at each other’s throat about who’s at fault. I lost my insatiable appetite for sex because it was always a mission for the baby. I could always know when she did a pregnancy test because she would spend that night to herself or by family crying.

“After a while I got tired of fighting and of trying so we drifted away from each other. During the separation a young lady I was dating for a few months told me she was expecting and oh the joy that flooded my soul. But that was short lived when she lost the baby at an early stage of the pregnancy. But I can’t lie given my history with infertility this gives me hope to want to try again,” he recounted in a conversation with me one day.

The popular dancehall artiste Marion Hall aka ‘Lady Saw’, over the years made her struggles public. Her issue wasn’t an inability to conceive but rather due to a condition with her uterus her ability to maintain her pregnancies beyond two months. But she still tries. Her temporary cope was to adopt.

Oftentimes harsh words are hurled at men or women, who at their ripe age, still bare no children. Some are called despicable names such as mule, barren, fig tree, dust bowl, while some of the names cannot be mentioned.

No doubt both parties are hurt but it’s the women who get the flowers, hugs and comforting conversations from family and friends and is the more likely one to open up about her struggle.

The men have to deal with the physical, emotional and financial stress alone as they tend to want to distance themselves from the issue, and become irritable. We must understand that it’s his way of coping. Sure we can’t read his mind but instead of mocking and jeering guys about his age and constantly reminding him that he’s the only guy in the squad without a youth. Have some sensitivity that it may not be by choice.

To become pregnant, the complex process of ovulation and fertilization need to work just right. For some couples, infertility problems can be a congenital situation or something can go wrong along the way that results in infertility.

Let me encourage those who wish to find out more about the causes of infertility to further research them and also find treatments if any is available. It may not be our personal concern but all of us may know someone who is struggling and needs support. For those who are, start focusing on yourselves. Remember that the two of you came first, before any thought of baby. You’re not alone; millions out there are in the struggle and though everyone’s level varies in measurement and each experience is different, try not to shut others out and bear it all on your own.

Seek external help. Find healthy, fun things and projects to do both individually and as a couple. Besides, you need to be healthy partners before being good parents. Instead of worrying and raging which any good doctor will tell you lessen your chances, be supportive and respectful of each other, and yes talk about it but not every day all day. Take a break or the stress of it all will break you. Keep faith in God and be open heart and minded on this pursuit for your bundle of joy.

Zion Syke is a Jamaican phlebotomist. Send your feedback to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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