“Alayna, her name will be Alayna, meaning princess”.
“And if it’s a boy?”, my husband Suhail asked me with a raised eyebrow, challenging my answer.
” Hmmmm,” I said thoughtfully, pausing and breathing noisily for added dramatic effect. Pensively I pondered as if it were the most difficult question I ever had to answer but I was merely playing along to his teasing me. I swirled around like the drama queen that I was.
” If it’s a boy?” I pouted my lips first, then I opened my eyes wide in disbelief. ” My first child will be a girl Suhail, OUR first baby will be a girl and THEN a boy!”.
I emphasized the word ‘then’.
Suhail shook his head laughing at me, staring at his crazy wife with eyes filled with love.
I remember that day often, almost everyday in fact and I even remember what I thought as I saw my husband laugh at my silliness. I thought to myself how much I loved him. I could just picture him as a father. How amazing he would be. How amazing ‘we’ would be. My mind often ran away with thoughts as I imagined picnics and swimming lessons, playing dolly house and dress up with our little person.
” She’ll have my hazel brown eyes and sharp nose. My dark curly hair and my deep set dimples. She’ll look just like me”.
Suhail feigned an injured look.
“Ok, ok, she’ll have your brains and she’ll know the answer to every math equation just like you do”, I said teasing him in return.
We were married less than a year but Suhail and I had our family and entire future all planned out on our vision board. In a modern world that was filled with smaller families, we were going to break the norm. We would have at least five children. Four girls and one boy. Perhaps we would have more. We both grew up in relatively small families and having a large one seemed ideal.
Oh but that’s just the thing about human beings – we tread into the future far too deep and much too often. We imagine and envision what might never happen. We set ourselves up for heartbreak and disaster by dreaming and fantasizing and then we have our fragile hearts shattered like delicate glass when we’re denied that which we expected because we’ve built up the speed and the momentum. We’ve planned the life, we’ve picked the names, chosen the house and even the car. We’ve painted the nursery too! Everything we so carefully selected, even if only in our mind.
Then comes that crushing, twisting motion in one’s chest when denied the thing that they most want. That feeling could never be compared to anything and I would battle to even describe it using words.
Waiting for Alayna….
We’ve been waiting for her for nine years. Nine long, gruesome, tiring years. Nine years filled with hope and despair, courage and fear, happiness and sadness and still, she is yet to arrive.
I think that little girls dream of becoming mummies before they imagine being anything else. We’re barely walking and we’re already carrying little dolls in our arms, or pushing them in toy prams, imitating the mother and caretaker role. Have you ever wondered why that is? Perhaps it’s the beautiful bond of unconditional love between a mother and her daughter that transcends all consciousness. Like the umbilical cord that attaches mother to child in the uterus, throughout life the mother daughter attachment will prevail and persist. Her mothering ability will remain inborn within her conscious aswell as subconscious mind.
Maybe that’s why it hurts so badly when the arrow to mother, to nurture, to fall pregnant, misses it’s target month after month, year after year, negative stick after negative stick.
And what about all those women in the world who have this amazing capabilty to love and to care but are childless? What do they do with all that love? Who does it go to? Where do they direct it? Is it lost in a twilight zone, haunting them forever? Who ever thinks of them, of us…
When we first married, Suhail and I put off having kids for a while wanting ‘to get to know each other’, wanting to enjoy some time to grow as a couple. That’s how the world dictates that things should be done. First they tell you not to have kids so soon and then they isolate,label and ridicule you for not having any or not having enough kids. Suhail and I acted as though that choice was ours to make – to choose when to fall pregnant, to choose the right time to conceive a baby. But that choice was never ever ours to make was it. It is HE who controls life and death and HE controls EVERYTHING.
So after two years of feeling satisfied at having gotten to know each other well enough, we began “planning” for our baby girl whom we would name Alayna. Those words make me shake my head as I reflect at the silliness of how they sound now. We plan and Allah too sets His plans in motion.
After a year of trying, nothing happened for us. I had the slightest concern at the back of my mind, but like a wriggling worm in the earth, I kept pushing the thought that perhaps there was a problem back into the ground then covering it up with the dust of hope, hope that soon I would fall pregnant. But month after month, nothing still. After two years of trying, nothing happened for me but something happened, for my best friend Amina and a few months after her, something happened for Suhail’s younger sister Shenaz who had been married less than 6 months. I felt like the rug had been pulled out from under my feet each time that someone else fell pregnant. I could describe it only as a feeling like that of falling, suspended in the air or drowning in a moment of reality that I wanted to escape from. Like dominos knocking each other down, it seemed as though everywhere that I turned to, someone was pregnant! Finally I admitted to myself that I was a failure. A failure as a wife and a failure as a woman. I cried into Suhail’s strong arms night after night. ” Please don’t cry babe, its not in our control, just make duaa, what else can we do?”. I shook my head, sniffing away my sorrows but nothing comforted me. My best friend and my sister in law as well as many many other women would both, would all, become mothers without me! Sometimes I wondered if I would ever be a mother.
While Amina and Shenaz walked around with growing bellies and swollen feet, I walked around with heavy feet and a swollen, pining heart. I couldn’t look at them in the eye. To be honest I don’t think that they could look at me either.
I found it torture to be around them and I avoided spending any time with these two women at all costs.
Whenever Shenaz popped over I jumped into the shower. When Amina called to make plans I was always unavailable. I did this for months, wondering what they thought of me and if they assumed correctly what the reason for my evading them was. Neither asked me anything and I never offered any explanation. I continued to pray and to hope, continued to cry and to beg, I continued to demand and to question why me or rather why not me! Sometimes I even asked Allah why them. Why did Amina and Shenaz fall pregnant and not me. What was different about them! Were they better people than I was? And then something happened.
It wasn’t what I had anticipated happening and yet it left me reeling in relief as well as guilt and fear.
Amina was 28 weeks pregnant when she went into labor and was rushed to hospital. The doctors tried to stop the contractions but there is no way to stop fate is there. And so she delivered a stillborn baby boy weighing only 715g.
It was all my fault. I knew that it was. I had cast the evil eye upon her albeit unintentionally. I had wished that she wouldn’t be pregnant, not without me!
I felt relief that I wouldn’t have to deal with her pregnancy any more, relief that I wouldn’t have to attend or plan her baby shower, relief that I wouldn’t have to carry her newborn baby in my barren arms. I was a despicable human being, I know.
But I felt equal emotions of fear and anguish thinking, knowing that I had cost her her baby’s life.
Welcome to my sordid confession. These are the thoughts that every childless woman thinks and feels at some point, yet none would ever admit to them openly. Join me on this treacherous journey of infertility as I open your eyes, mind and heart to what it feels like to be the 1 out of 10 women who battle to conceive.
Remember, don’t judge too harshly the path that you haven’t been dealt to tread upon…
Walk this heart wrenching path of infertility which so many women battle with and yet are forced to walk it alone. Open your mind and heart to how it must feel to be a woman who canot conceive as she lives behind her plastered smile. Perhaps next time, you’ll be a little more considerate of what you say. Based on a true life encounter.