Anjali shares her story of recurrent miscarriage and fertility treatment. She talks about her experience as a British born Indian woman and the difficulties she and her husband faced in talking to their family amidst a cultural fear of how others might judge them.
We were transparent with our families throughout the entire process - they knew every time we lost a baby, and they knew that we were going through fertility treatment, but we were met with silence at every disappointment and loss.
My husband and I had very similar ideas of how our life together would look when we first fell in love. We would travel the world, eventually ‘settle down’, buy a house, and have a family. After seven years of courtship and a year of marriage, we were ready to start a family. When it came to trying to have children, we were somewhat naïve. We thought we’d stop using contraception for a bit and boom! nine months later we’d have a baby.
We tried for over a year and had two early miscarriages.
This wasn’t in the plan; we weren’t prepared for this. After each miscarriage the doctors kept reassuring us how common they were and that 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage. But I kept wondering why no one was talking about it, if it was indeed so common.
We’re both British-born Indians, and whilst we had very different upbringings, our families shared one common trait, a general inability to discuss real life. There has always been a taboo around the issues that truly matter. We don’t like to broadcast any of the bad or difficult things in life, we sweep them under the rug for fear of judgement from others.
‘We don’t want people to talk.’ ‘What will people think?’
These are just a few of the phrases that come to mind.
It’s often instilled in us, if unconscious, that the more productive we are, the more we’re worth. Whether that be the home you own, the car you drive, or the career you’ve chosen. So, when I struggled to have a baby, I began to feel worthless, that I was a failure.
Finally, after this year of trying, we were referred to the fertility clinic at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. Needless to say, I was not in the best place to begin fertility treatment. The lingering pain of two miscarriages, feeling increasingly isolated by the experience and still in slight disbelief that this was happening at all, I stepped into that clinic with a lot of anxiety.
Our consultant couldn’t find anything ‘wrong’ with us, we were told we had ‘unexplained infertility’ but because of my previous miscarriages they believed I was unable to keep a pregnancy without medical assistance during the first trimester, so they advised us to proceed with IVF.
IVF was the most challenging thing I have ever been through. There were countless appointments, and my body was tested, poked and prodded so many times. It almost destroyed my visions of becoming a parent.
Our first round of IVF was successful. I was pregnant, and we were finally having a baby. Our elation was unparalleled. The due date happened to fall on my birthday, which felt like a special sign. So we started to plan how we would tell our families. Since we both love Christmas like it’s going out of style, we decided to tell them on Christmas Day.
We were finally giving our families the gift we all wanted.
At ten weeks, we went for our scheduled scan. There was no heartbeat, our baby had died. Sitting in that dark room with the sonographer and my husband, I burst into tears of disbelief, this couldn’t be happening again. We got further than we ever had before, we did everything right, we had the doctors on our side, this should’ve worked. A few days later, they removed our baby from my body. This loss broke me.
At home recovering from the procedure, I received a pregnancy announcement from a family member. It was an excruciating reminder of our loss. I wanted to be happy for them, but it was too soon, and I didn’t have the energy to pretend. I’ve always considered myself to be a strong person, but a miscarriage is a death we experience in our bodies, it’s incredibly intimate and traumatic.
At the time of our third miscarriage we were living with my husband’s family waiting for the purchase of our home to go through. Whilst we should have felt embedded within a support structure, instead we felt completely isolated. We were transparent with our families throughout the entire process – they knew every time we lost a baby, and they knew that we were going through fertility treatment, but we were met with silence at every disappointment and loss.
We, with the bad and difficult things in life, were swept under the rug.
We decided to take a break. Two years of heartache and three miscarriages meant we just couldn’t do it anymore. We took some time to celebrate the life we had built together. I know the love we have is a love like no other, and it was time to remember and appreciate it.
Almost eight months had passed before we decided to start again with fertility treatment. We were in a much better place; we were settled into our new home and enjoyed being us again. We’d now already been through the IVF process, so we knew what to expect, we were more informed and prepared to make this work. We started eating healthier and we had read that acupuncture alongside IVF had seen positive results, so we booked in sessions to coincide with my treatment.
During this round of IVF, we smashed all the statistics – the doctors retrieved 21 eggs, 15 were fertilised, 10 got to day five and we transferred two embryos. Those two embryos became our beautiful boys, Krish and Bodhi.
Krish and Bodhi are IVF babies. They are only three years old but already know they were made by science and love. They call themselves science experiments! Krish and Bodhi are everything we hoped for and so much more. The four years it took for us to have them were some of the most difficult and darkest moments of our life, but we would do it all again for them.
Krish and Bodhi are our happy place.
Being Indian is something I am incredibly proud of, but I do understand my culture has its blind spots and I am here to remind those who may be experiencing this now or have experienced it and have felt silenced or that no one held space for them; you are not alone.