“Before God we are all equally wise – and equally foolish.”
~ Albert Einstein.
I have been wanting to write on this since Nick wrote his post – Childless.
In the exchange of comments that followed there, we had this to say to each other. Apart from this exchange, the other comments and responses from Nick are worth a read too.
Me: Nick, to be an infertile woman in India is worse than being a zombie. I know of women who were blamed for not producing children and subjected to tests of all kinds till it occurs to some moron in-law to get his son tested. No one talks about male infertility and I think that is something that needs to be addressed too in childless but wanting children couples.
Nick: Ramana: Yes, I’ve often read that being a childless woman in India is a serious stigma. And you’re right that the possibility of the man’s infertility is often overlooked. Though I think that’s less the case in the UK, where nowadays the man is routinely checked along with the woman.
What prompted this post however is the latest story from a friend of mine in Coimbatore who had rung me up to give some good news. His grand daughter Meena got married in 2001 to a scion of one of the South’s wealthy and well known trading families. I have known Meena since she was a little baby in arms but could not attend her wedding as I was preoccupied with other matters in Pune. The couple went off to live with the family’s estate in the Nilgiris immediately after marriage. After five years when no child was forthcoming, Meena was subjected to all kinds of taunts and ill treatments and was asked to undergo various tests and treatments. It was presumed by the family that she was responsible and not her husband. Eventually, Meena could not take it any more and came away to her parents and started a career as a teacher, got formally divorced and started a new life. She got married again in 2010 to a classmate from school days and moved to the USA where her new husband has a flourishing medical practice. My friend just now told me that he has become a grand father to twins. I could not help asking him about whatever happened to the husband from the first marriage and he chuckled and said that he got married again and continues to be childless!
Obviously, this is a clear case of the man being infertile but the woman facing the brunt of criticism and condemnation. There are other similar stories too that I know of where the husband is infertile but the wife goes through a tough time. Such is our paternalistic society.
On the other hand, I also recently came to know about another couple who got divorced after many attempts to get the wife to become pregnant through IVF protocols failed. The husband got married again and has just become a father of a baby girl.!
Strange are the ways of nature!
This is not something that I have dreamt up. 70+ years old couple became parents in India some time ago. There was widespread press coverage of the event.
Similar stories but not for as old as these appear now and then.
Considering that this is now a definite possibility, I wish to share a small story with my readers.
With the aid of new-age fertility treatments, a 72-year old woman conceived a child. Nine months later, she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. The happy old couple went home and relatives started pouring in.
“We are so excited,” her cousin said. “Can we see the newborn?”
“Umm…let’s wait a little”, said the mother. “I’ll make tea for everyone.”
They had high tea, a good hour passed and everyone was eager to see the newborn.
“May we see the baby now?”
“Not yet,” the mother said.
The guests were beginning to get intrigued. After waiting for another ten minutes, they insisted on seeing the baby but got the same answer back.
Growing impatient, they said, “Well, when can we see the baby?”
“Only when she cries.”
“What’s crying got to do with anything? Why do we have to wait until she cries?
“Because,” she explained, “I forgot where I put her.”
Now, there is a moral in that story somewhere. Can someone discover that?
Our local newspaper reports that a 53 year old mother delivered a healthy baby boy at one of the elite hospitals of Pune. Apparently she and her husband had been trying to produce a child for the past thirty years without success. They had visited a number of doctors and clinics and nothing worked till now.
Unfortunately, I am unable to give a link to the story as that particular story has not been published online. I wonder why! I have scanned the item for this post to show how it featured in the bottom of the front page of the newspaper. You can click on the image to enlarge it and read the article as it appeared on the first page.
They come from an orthodox rural family/community in Karnataka an adjoining state to our own Maharashtra. The husbands seven brothers all have been prolific and there are many children and the lady has been subject to all kinds of ridicule and rejection. Typical in many families of our great nation.
She was fortunate in her husband who has stood by her all these years as, usually, men over here, use this as an excuse to get married again. Often the parents of the woman concerned also acquiesce. It is quite common to see the man married to the younger sister of the childless first wife so that a child can be created.
The doctor at the In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) Endoscopy Center, in an interview says that she was reluctant for long to entertain the hopefuls but eventually agreed to expose the lady to IVF and the result has been spectacular. A baby and that too a male. Both the parenets are ecstatic as is the lady’s sister who accompanied her to the ordeal. Now the lady and her husband can walk erect in their village and among their community members.
My congratulations to them.
I wonder if they have considered one important fact. When the boy hits his teen ages, they will be 66 and 69 years old. When the lad finishes school the father will be over 70. Have they given some thought to all that lies ahead for them?