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

About Me: An Update

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.

And then, I’m also very much a product of being raised by an immigrant family, in a closely tied immigrant community, fully embracing the colorful and intense cultural experiences. Being part of a Pakistani immigrant community is usually closely tied to being Muslim. As a woman of faith, raised in the Muslim tradition, I continue on a personal path toward a place of comfort and peace with the role of religion in my life and toward a greater commitment to sense, spirituality, and practice in that faith.

But before any of the above identities, I’m a woman first. I rely on my womanhood, sisterhood, and humanity to guide me in life and influence my views, decisions, and actions—as an American, as an immigrant, as a Pakistani, as a Muslim—and of course, as a daughter, a sister, a wife, and as a mother.

Mother? Yes! “Mother!”

To be a mother without every producing offspring!? This has been a particularly difficult and painful issue to address for me personally. A couple years back, I had a painful confrontation with my mother and a close aunt in how they and others in my family have overtly, directly, indirectly make a point of reminding me that I am incapable of maternal instincts as I have not yet produced a biological offspring, and that no matter what my relationships with children, even if I were to adopt, I would never truly know maternal instinct or true motherhood.

It’s been a long, painful path to just ignoring such messages, and allowing myself to own that I am capable of maternal instincts, of being a mother, even without ever giving birth. I know that many women are “mothers” to many in our lives but rarely get to claim it and/or get credit for it. Yet, many women have the heart of a mother. So I now allow myself to say, “I am a mother”, “I have a heart of a mother”.

For those of us who are in this silent (and growing) minority of Infertiles—a unique identity for those who are biologically unable to produce offspring—we have our individual and shared journeys.

My journey, shared with my partner, my best friend, my husband, has had a path that at various times, has had one or more or all of the following: direction/aimless, adventures/monotony, peaks/lows, achievements/failures, hope/despair, energy/exhaustion, love/pain, gains/losses, strength/frailty, resiliency/faltering… and the list goes on.

Now, after more than 6 years, I also look back and recognize the milestones achieved by way of being, thinking, and learning, all of which that can only be described as spiritual, insightful, grateful, empowering… and simply human and woman.