What Not to Say to Infertiles: “It’s God’s Will”

In most South Asian cultures, there are common refrains thrown at those facing negative life events. In Urdu and among Muslims, there are a few with essentially the same idea as in English:

Urdu English
Khuda ki marzi: It’s God’s will / It’s God’s whim
Khuda ki dain: God gives as he chooses
khuda behtar karta hai: God does things for the best
Iss mey bhi kohi behtri hogi: Things happen for the best /
T
here must be good in this

 

Regardless of language, faith, or culture—and regardless of one’s intention—these are awful words repeated mindlessly, [Read more →]

Surrogacy, India, & Pakistanis (Part I)

Similar to many folks who opt for surrogacy, we gave serious consideration to services available in India. We had to consider the possibility of a more affordable option as well as the obvious cultural appeal with our Pakistani backgrounds. It never occurred to us that the appeal would not be mutual. It never occurred to us that while we determined whether surrogacy in India was right for us, India had already decided we were not right for them.

It was fall of 2008, a little over three years since our first miscarriage. With three miscarriages behind us and two fertility-related surgical procedures, we decided to attempt a second IVF; our last attempt to get pregnant. If the cycle was not successful (i.e. another miscarriage), we were ready to shift our dwindling emotional, mental, and financial reserves to adoption, surrogacy, or both. We had already spent a couple of years gathering as much information as possible on adoption in the US, in Pakistan, and other countries. It was clearly going to be a formidable process. In comparison, surrogacy was likely the easier next step, in theory at least, but due diligence was required before making any final decisions. We had to first learn about the services available both in the US and in India. [Read more →]

About Me: An Update

Over a year ago, I became a mother.

Simply, beautifully, unimaginably, suddenly, and simultaneously, my husband and I had the greatest good fortune and privilege of becoming parents to 3 beautiful children, through adoption and surrogacy.

Now a year and half later, it’s hard to believe 7 years of infertility actually happened and we managed to survive, individually and together, as so much of it no longer feels real. Those who know us intimately and have been by our side, as well as those who have experienced infertility first hand, know how hard Infertiles have to work to have children. I don’t have to explain that actual work went into having our ordinary family with our ordinary lives through extraordinary circumstances. We feel tremendous gratitude for where we are and for all that is finally behind us, knowing there are far greater hardships people face and overcome. [Read more →]

The Rabbit Hole: women’s bodies, sex, guns, violence

Criminalizing miscarriages, rape insurance, limiting access to abortion and contraception, abstinence only education, children holding hands labeled as gateway to deviant sexual behavior, laws against teachers that discuss or recognize the existence of homosexuality in schools, license to discriminate based on religion; all the while promoting guns and indiscriminate access to guns, without limitations, background reviews, qualifications, or consequences; at the same time, widening “stand your ground laws” and removing social and legal ramifications for shooting children either through negligence, in rage, or sense of disrespect; all built on a stage propped up with moral and religious high ground.

It’s a bit of a rabbit hole. [Read more →]

Surrogacy Terminology

Some clarification on terminology. While the term “surrogacy” is used loosely and generally, the technical term is “third party carrier”. [Read more →]

Our first experience with our first surrogate

After a long, long, and I mean long, windy road, with many, many detours, we reached a point where not only surrogacy was a real option, but also we felt brave enough to move forward.  And on this adventure, we had the pleasure of meeting and working with two amazing, generous women who were to be our surrogates, or rather, gestational carriers (GCs), with very different, unimaginable outcomes. [Read more →]

No More What Ifs

After more than 7 years of living with, coping with, and managing infertility, we were so tired.  If you asked me how I was, all I could say was exhausted.  Of the many things that are exhausting about infertility, and there are many, I was tired of living with the uncertainty and constantly trying to anticipate life.  It’s what my husband and I called, “what ifs”. [Read more →]

Outdated surrogacy laws in NY and other states

I am so happy to learn that NY State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblywoman Amy Paulin are co-sponsoring a bill to make surrogacy a real option in the state of NY.  They held a public forum in Albany on March 3, 2014 to discuss the proposed law and the possibilities it offers for surrogacy in NY state.  Both Hoylman and Paulin have personal experience with the need for this law and understand the reality of infertility.  A New York Times Fashion and Style section on February 19, 2014 featured Hoylman’s story and experience with surrogacy (And Surrogacy Makes 3).

When my husband and I started our surrogacy process, we were surprised to learn NY state laws did not recognize surrogacy, as it is practiced today, and we were facing yet another hurdle to the numerous existing ones to becoming parents. [Read more →]

Republicans Deny War Vets Fertility

My husband and I have always felt strongly that war veterans deserve more than they actually receive—after serving their country, after risking their lives, and after returning to civilian life often with medical needs, chronic pain, disability, joblessness, mental illness, to name a just a few challenges, all of which in turn have greater implications for their future, for their families, and for their ability to become active, participating citizens in their communities, in their country, the very country for which they were called to fight.  So needless to say, I was shocked to learn Veteran Benefits do not cover fertility treatments and adoption costs.  In fact, covering fertility treatments for war vets has been banned since 1992!

As of Thursday, February 27, 2014, Republicans took steps to block a vote on a bill that would expand various programs for War Vets and their families, including fertility treatments to those that have injuries to the reproductive organs, among numerous other much-needed care and services.  In contrast, the Republicans have their own bill, with a much smaller budget that specifically leaves out any fertility treatment for wounded vets and their spouses. [Read more →]

Lessons Learned: Before starting the process of adoption from Pakistan

If you’re thinking, planning, hoping, trying to adopt in Pakistan, these are a few lessons learned we can share and you can consider:

  1. Have as much information as possible
  2. Plan to adopt ONLY from an orphanage recognized by your country or one that is fully known as “legitimate” and well-established within Pakistan, such as one with experience in adoption with parents overseas. [Read more →]

Becoming Parents Through Adoption

After seven years of so many hurdles and obstacles, we finally took steps last year to adopt.  We have a beautiful son.

I’ve been debating on how to write about our son and share our adoption story on this blog.  I want to and should be mindful of how this is also his story and that his privacy is of utmost importance.  So I’ll have to see what and how much to reveal, without feeling like I’m crossing some line with regards to sharing about his life, what’s passed for him, and what’s ahead for him.  It’s a question or area that I’ll need to think more about.

In the meantime, I can share our story to a great extent and what we’ve learned and now know through our process of becoming parents via adoption in Pakistan.  This is important, even critical, for several reasons.

First, while Pakistan is probably one of the easiest and quickest places to adopt from for overseas Pakistanis, I can only describe the prevailing attitudes and practices as un-sophisticated and un-evolved—tremendous obstacles for folks looking to adopt as well as for children needing homes and families. We need as many voices and new perspectives possible to improve domestic or international adoptions in Pakistan as well as to advocate for change in outdated values/attitudes/information that cloud adoption. [Read more →]

What NOT to Say to Infertiles!

Where do I begin!?  Since the first miscarriage more than 5 years ago, I always said I wish I could hand out a list of things people should not say to me with regards to babies, pregnancy, etc.  So here’s my chance.

Over the years, there were way too many times I found myself wishing I could punch someone in the face!  Instead I simply distanced myself from people that made stupidly, inane, pithy comments, used generic words of comfort, and/or offered supposed words of wisdom/advice without ever having any experience or knowledge of infertility.

With time, and with distance comes greater clarity, I have come to realize that at the heart of all these stupid comments is simply the fact that folks just don’t know what to say, and in turn they rely on words that they’ve heard or think they are supposed to say.  Or they simply say something trite in a vain effort to add-value. All the time with no insight or way of knownig that these words are hollow and usually cause more pain than comfort. [Read more →]

How to begin this blog on infertility???

Now that the blog is live, I’ve been trying to figure out where to begin and how to fill up these empty pages.

When the idea for this blog developed more than a year ago, it was (and continues to be) about filling a void in the world of information for individuals living with infertility, particularly from the view point of an Infertile, for the consumption by other Infertiles (and by those who love them).  With that in mind, the site design aims at various phases in one’s “infertility journey” as well as larger questions for anyone ever considering to have a family.  [Read more →]

About Me: A woman, an American, of Pakistani origin, of Muslim faith… Infertile

I am a woman, an American, of Pakistani origin, of Muslim faith… and Infertile. These are all the terms that define me and also provide the context for my years of living with infertility.

I’ve been any other woman grappling with the losses and pain accompanied with infertility. I’m also a woman, an American, in America, with the strong sense of self advocacy, navigating the maze of medicine, financing, and health insurance—all necessary for Infertiles as part of our efforts to have a family—and with no doubt, all the privilege of living in America and the pride that comes with it. [Read more →]

Why this blog?

Not too long ago, I read “Silent Sorority: A (Barren) Woman Gets Busy, Angry, Lost and Found” by Pamela Mahoney Tisigdinos.  It’s wonderfully well written.  It’s always a relief to find someone who has managed to put words to one’s own similar experience.  Pamela does a great job giving voice to what truly is a “silent” suffering, with individuals living in an “infertility closet”.  As in her experience, and as for many others, I’ve reached a point in my journey where I no longer want to be silent and desperately need to give voice to this reality that needs more understanding, awareness, help, and support. [Read more →]