No Easy Answers!

All that happens, happens for the best!

Remember this feel-good message we were taught as kids? The Hindu belief in ‘karma’ is the logical extension of this philosophy, isn’t it? So I have seen several of my friends and family rationalize bad situations with a sigh and a ‘Perhaps this was meant to be!’ over the years. Not that they do not give their best shot, but when things don’t go as planned, they believe in accepting the situation as God’s/Nature’s will and moving on with life.

There is some truth to this aphorism, I think.

I picked up a sad bunch of friends in school. And I didn’t do too well in an exam generally accorded life-and-death importance in India. Since both these events occurred within the same period of time, it is safe to say they were inter-related. Anyhow, so my parents had to pay through their nose to get me into a college of our choice.

The upside to this story? I learned my lessons pretty well. I was VERY careful with the friends I made in college and I got my act together to emerge as the topper in my oh-so-competitive engineering class four years down the line. With hindsight, I’d say those jolts did me a world of good.

But is it always easy to accept, move on or walk away?

The jolts I experienced were mild compared to certain other scenarios. What happens when important things go wrong, when the entire script for our lives goes haywire? What if person x was told, for example, that she cannot have a baby naturally and will need medical assistance to conceive? And that the baby she conceives will be ‘two to four times more likely to be born with certain types of birth defects than infants conceived naturally’?

What if you or I were in this position? Would we go ahead with the treatment, fully knowing the risks involved? Or would we decide to stop trying and consider other options like adoption instead?

Nature might know best – is it wiser to accept that after all?

There are no easy answers and I have no idea what choice I’d make myself. But I do know I feel uneasy messing with nature in general. The article makes a similar point too.

“The big question it raises is, is there something biologically different about people with infertility,” Ginsburg said. “It wouldn’t be shocking to find out that there may be some biological difference that makes it more difficult for them to conceive as well as putting them at risk of a higher chance of having babies with some sort of adverse outcome.”

From what I understand, horrific and cold though it sounds, there’s a good chance nature never meant person x to have a biological baby at all. So she might be able to conceive with medical help, but her body may not be ready to nurture the baby even then. So you’d probably keep plying her with tests and vitamins to ensure a safe pregnancy. And God forbid, if there’s a birth defect later, it might end up being a lifelong battle for the sweet little baby. It’s tough to keep up with nature, isn’t it?

Each situation is different of course, but in general I believe fighting the forces will turn out counterproductive in the end. So I would rather exercise and eat well to stay plump but fit all my life than get a liposuction done to turn svelte overnight. Trivial example, I know, but you get my point, don’t you? Let nature run its course as far as possible is what I was taught and believe in.

So nature knows best – but do we listen?

I am 26, young and reasonably healthy today, and at the right child-bearing age I’m told. So there is this constant pressure towards parenthood. And I know the concerns are valid. But I don’t feel prepared for this life-changing step yet!

A lot of my friends aren’t even married! The ones who are, are applying to business schools, studying for their doctorates or busy chasing other dreams. A baby is not even on the distant horizon for them. I have no such ambitions for now and a baby is definitely on my near horizon somewhere, but I feel emotionally unprepared just the same.

Do I enter motherhood in an unprepared (some would say immature) frame of mind and learn my lessons on the job, risking my child’s emotional growth in the process? Or do I take a few more years preparing myself for this awesome responsibility and risk potential medical complications in my thirties? Or worse, risk not being able to conceive at all?

I wonder if my friends who dilly-dally with marriage or are just entering doctorate school and aren’t planning a baby for the next five years worry about this? I know I do! Because while we all think this through, the biological clock keeps ticking and none of us can deny it. And medical technology might have advanced tremendously but there are occasions when it appears to contemplate defeat before nature after all.

There are no easy answers, are there?

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25 responses to “No Easy Answers!

  1. I’m in the same boat as you and you bet, there are no easy answers at all. I had exactly the same thoughts as you do when I was 26. Two years later, I really think I’m as ready as anyone can be to have a baby. But I also think about all those people who are only just getting married. Just because I got married early doesn’t mean I must have babies early too!

    At my age, there’s another thought that comes to mind – if it has to be done, I might as well do it now than later.

  2. 🙂

    if only life offered easy answers?!

    i do believe in fate and karma and the fact that jyo hota hai acche ke liye hota hai and there are something that are not destined to be.

    i also belive that one good turns gets another. so if you have been a good person, good things will happen to you. if not immediately or from the same person, it will happen nonetheless at some time through some other person! 🙂

    as for the babies bit, you can never really be prepared. i had Cubby when i was 28 because i got married only at 26 and after tow years of being with M i knew i could have a baby with him.

    now i wish it was a bit earlier… marriage and baby. jo ho gaya so ho gaya.

    dont look at others… when do they get married, what are their views on kids because that can never help you get a better judgement of what should you do. if only, it will confuse you further.

    there are no parameters for KNOWING that you can now be a good parent. its a learning process and you can never be stupid enough to harm your child emotionally. i mean my mum had me at 21 and i feel like a person with no emotional baggage because of that! am sure its similar for you! nahi?! 🙂

    as for taking trearments for fertility, i did too. i suffer from PCOs which makes normal conception difficult. Ofcos we gave oursleves one year to try and then go for adoption. fortunately i concieved in first shot of medication.

    and all these new researches keep coming up. a lot of times the reasons fo not being abke to concieve are because of lifestyle changes and medicine helps. i dont think thats going against the nature.

    its like saying one should not try to treat a patient with a terminal disease because nature intends him to die, nahi?! 🙂

    sorry for a mini-post here!

    cheers!

  3. Nah, no easy answers. But I agree 200 percent with you on your take that nature must be given its own grace marks on what it does. We can interfere with it, we can reverse its decisions but always with a fee. There is no free lunch as they say, therefore, there is none in nature’s processes too.

  4. Yeah there is no easy answer. I dont even knowif there is an answer. Being in the same boat, I can say we probably may never be completely ready for the next step. My obgyn says take the plunge and see how it goes 😀

  5. Hey, you spoke my mind D – I got married at 23. :p And if I am never going to feel prepared, let me take care of the right-age part at least!

    Abha, first things first, I don’t mean to trivialize this issue, I know its an emotional biggie for all of us. Also, you have a happy and healthy baby with you, so lucky you I say! 😀

    Having said that, I didn’t mean to say let a terminally ill patient die. My point was – if you believe in nature and a natural balance of life – you’ll know there’s only so much you can do to help the terminally ill person. You may try chemo to fight his cancer, but he might catch pneumonia, you try to cure that and you might harm his kidneys and so on… I am not a medical expert, so these are just examples out of my head. Basically after a point there might be something to be said for not using medicines/surgery to cure the ill person and further spoil his already fragile/disturbed balance… My mom was telling me about this medical doctor who refused medical treatment for his own cancer and survived and is living a healthy life after huge changes in his lifestyle… basically nature therapy that tries to restore balance rather than experiment with it further.

    Okay, getting back to our point, I wasn’t saying fertility treatment is no good, my point was, there might be reasons to take a second look at it. Because here’s a doctor admitting it may lead to further complications! So it’s not easy to choose that option when a doctor gives you such a warning, is it?

    Hahaha… yeah, I agree Mithe! I have heard some not-so-fun stories about the procedure too, you know.

    Yeah, that’s exactly what I was trying to say Mampi! 🙂

    Your obgyn sounds cool Shilpa! 😉

  6. You ‘feel uneasy messing with nature in general’ otherwise I am all for using technology if one is really keen to have a biological baby. BUT nothing like adoption.
    I have also seen many times, (including Abha above) women conceive when they plan to adopt a baby. I have no idea how it works and I read Linda Goodman’s explanation – something about your last life. Doctors think it brings down the stress levels – the decision to adopt takes away the stress of wanting to conceive.
    They say somethings happen only when they have to happen, not a moment before or after.

  7. I am your regular reader(wonderful blog) and I could not stop myself from commenting today.

    Its so sad that we always have “adoption” as our last option.Its nothing wrong,thats how our social set up is.Though if the husband and wife are ready for adoption,they seek for their parent’s acceptance,which in case might be difficult.

    Would like to share a very personal experience , my own cousin she went for IVF.As its something against a natural process, it was very difficult for us to see the physical and emotional trauma she went through and unfortunately at the end it was not not successful .And still she moved on and went for adoption and she is now with her girl baby.And I am so happy for her ,she found her happiness.

    Once a child is born , we become a parent at that second and that second passes ,later on , it only boils down to the big process called “parenting”.I am 27 ,if i am identified with a problem tomorrow,my first choice would be “adoption” ,because i simply do not have the courage to go against nature.As i said, my own child or my adopted child ,i would simply try my best to be a good parent.Again life might throw some other challenges like convincing my in- laws ,I just have to sail through.!!!!

    And again keep up your good work and I am sorry for using too much of your space.

  8. I totally agree with u that one can tweak nature only to a certain extent. There is nothing wrong in using the advancements and options available for fertility. Afterall, what is science for? But more often than not, fertility treatments drag for a long time. At least for the couples I’ve seen, it did. Not to mention expensive. In that case like u said, it is better to adopt.

    Regarding motherhood, I don’t think there is any right or wrong time. It is a big responsibility and most parents do learn their way around, without like scarring their kids for life! I also think one can never be completely prepared for it. It is a continuous learning process. What matters is whether we are open to learning and taking that responsibility or not, because there is no looking back!

  9. Yeah, I’ve heard that too IHM, happened to a very close friend of mine in fact. But it makes perfect sense to me, less stress and all. 🙂

    Thanks for commenting NM, please do that more often! That’s an amazing statement you just made about adoption, I admire you for it. For most of us (me included) the urge to have our own babies is overwhelming. (And perhaps that’s just the way we are wired!)

    Umm… I’ll agree with everything you said except the ‘What is science for?’ argument Jira! 🙂 This attitude makes us kind of lax about our health, don’t you think? And the article I had linked to specifically mentions areas where science is perhaps not able to overcome nature after all.

  10. Ditto ! Same pinch to you there 🙂

    Got married at 23 and have been subjected to the same school of thought many times by now.

    My answer to many of those elder aunties who pressed to hear my ‘good news’ was that I am not ready yet..or don’t feel matured enough for that responsibility yet.
    Their response was thought provoking – None of them had felt totally ready or ‘all set’ to have a baby either.
    They said, we are biologically designed to adapt to motherhood ones it happens. They learnt when the time came and in fact did well.

    I want to agree to them..especially because of the reason you told – Why wait to feel ‘totally ready’ and end up challenging nature by that time?

  11. I married young and had my kids young. I just turned 31(yesterday) and have a 9 yr old(amongst others)

    Do I regret it? Nope!
    Did I plan to have her so soon? No it just happened.

    We didnt have a house, didnt have savings, were travelling and opps I got pregnant. I had my baby and yeah she is now 9 yrs old.

    I think the only person who can answer the question..whether you are ready for motherhood is you(and your dh).
    Because seriously no matter, how many talks you attend, how many books you read, how many people you speak. you will never be prepared for motherhood. NEVER>

    Its a completely life changing,nerve racking, nausuea inducing moment.

    That said, I think you should get pregnant now. rofl

    PS:I use the whole karma thing on my kids. Okay you kicked your brother thats why your ice cream melted off its cone. You broke your didi’s bangle, thats why the computer is not working(actually I just remove the internet cable but they do not need to know that)
    You got punished for doing bad things.. I am such a evil mom.

  12. ‘Why wait to feel ‘totally ready’ and end up challenging nature by that time?’
    Oh yes, that was EXACTLY the point of my post AHK! I just couldn’t express it clearly enough perhaps. Thanks for saying what I meant to say! 🙂

    ‘That said, I think you should get pregnant now.’
    LOL at that Sunita! Yes, everyone tells me you’ll never be prepared till it actually happens. 😉 And so they scare me even more! But I totally love your parenting style – evil moms rule! 😀

    Oh, and warm B’day wishes to you (belated)!

  13. Hi D,
    A couple of things jump out at me from your post, I shall try to enumerate them here:

    1. No one is ever ready “completely” to be a mother or father. There is a certain “learn on the job” part to it and the nature of the job is that you will screw up a few times. The important thing is to realize that you *do* want children and then just do your best. As with everything else in life too, that’s all we can ever do.

    2. What other people do has very little significance in your life. I was exactly where you are – and I had E when I was 28. None of my other friends had kids. Some of them were not married. I would think exactly the way you do – I had kids, they didn’t, I’m in a different life stage than they…. etc.
    Here’s what I’ve come to realize. We tend to (especially with the competitive spirit nutured through years of extensive schooling) compare our lives with others. We expect that just like in schools, we will all reach the same goals at the same time, we will all be judged on how well we do at achieving said goals etc… That’s not true. As adults we each have a different life ahead of us – and you should choose what’s right for you, regardless of your peers choices. I know this makes no sense at all right now 🙂 But someday perhaps it may !

    3. The logic that infertile people are not meant to have kids is an old one. Evolutionarily – the genes of people incapable of reproduction would be winnowed out of the chain of life. It’s sad and horror inducing in our used to modern medicine minds – but its still true. In the modern world we tend to think we can control everything – the attitude that “this is Fate, I must accept it” is a fast fading one.

    Priya.

  14. Hi,

    Enjoyed the post. I am in the same situation-know I want to have kids, but am waiting for everything to fall into place first. I agree–some of those feritility treatments sound very expensive and very traumatic and very unnatural. Am not sure how I would feel if I learned my husband and I weren’t able to have a baby together–that would be devastating for a while or maybe a long while.

    One question–did you feel ready to get married? For me, I knew I wanted to get married and then my husband and I were in a situation where we had to make a quick decision–marry or chance losing each other. Anyway, maybe having a child is similar–jumping off into the unknown based on a hunch? Fortunately, we are happy but it was a little scary at first.

  15. Priya –

    1) So I get to screw up a few times? Then I think I can do it! 😀
    2) I understand… a little. 🙂
    3) Okay, you summed up my entire post in 3 lines – you are so cool!

    I am not sure if I even thought about whether I was ready to get married you know Minnie. I was very silly then and just thought of it as a great adventure or grown-up thing to do! I am learning what marriage is all about on the job… and there’s a long way to go still. Hence the extra worries about moving on to the next step… 😦

  16. Was just going through the comments to this post. Isn’t it amazing how many women our age are going through the same dilemma? And we think it’s only us!

  17. See, Having kids is not a project. Each person is uniquely different. Your state of mind has a lot to do with your level of fertility. And its not a question of saying, finish paying for the house, buy a car, let someone get a promotion, and then lets have kids. You both need to want kids; the rest will fall in place. Incidentally, I have a biological child and an adopted child, both are adults now, and I was working when the children happened.

    I dont think one should compare when other folks had kids, where, and were they working, who left their doctorate half way etc. Decide that you want to have a child, and make it your first priority. The rest will fall in place. Adoption is intellectually acceptable to many; but you need to think if you can emotionally handle it. Think about it. I have found that adoption succeeds most when the couple is supported in this by their respective families.

    And at the end of the day, whatever you are going through now, is trying to tell you, teach you something. You need to look for what it is, and it will show you the future path.

    My best wishes…

  18. Yes D, absolutely. It reassures me in many ways – 1) A lot of us feel confused, so I am not the only looney. 2) Priya says every parent makes some mistakes and that’s okay! 3) Suranga and other wiser/older women tell us not to compare and that’s always been a roadblock in my mind – my friends aren’t even married, why should I have a baby – sort of mindset! All very useful and reassuring and thought-provoking advise nahi?

    Your comment means a lot to me Suranga. Thanks for sharing your ideas with us. You are right when you say adoption is an easy intellectual choice but a very tough emotional one. My feelings exactly. Kudos to you for making and handling the choice and I’m sure you must have been a wonderful mom to both your kids. Hats off, really!

  19. Science is a tool to understand nature Devaki. But after understanding it, when we try to imitate or take over nature, thats when the problem comes. Won’t u agree? After all what is science for, but to help man…A vaccine against cancer is not going against nature! Even lipo can be good at times! My friend sufferes from several clinical conditions that makes her obese. She cannot exercise vigorously and is prone to blood clots! So her doctor recommended healthy diet, mild exercise like walking and lipo to remove the excess adipose!
    But sometimes it so happens that science is misued like u mentioned and thats the trouble.

    One thing is for sure, when we follow a lifestyle close to nature, there wil be no need for medicines or vaccines for the most part!

  20. Interesting thought Jira – I agree for the most part. Except for this – even though doctors keep telling us vaccines are safe and all, there are some who attribute the shocking increase in autism incidence to vaccines… nothing is proved so far but who knows what the truth is!

    I’m not advocating against medical help, I run to a doctor if I have a high fever myself! All I’m saying is, we shouldn’t play around natural stuff without a thought… give it a second thought, see what the potential risks are, decide what’s absolutely necessary and what’s just a shortcut, is there a more natural alternative etc. And I’m sure you don’t disagree with that, right?

  21. There is no right or wrong answer. I too dilly-dallied with all those questions in my late 20s. One thing though, there will never be a time when you feel completely prepared for a child. You just have to take the leap when you feel reasonably ready. I thought I couldn’t manage my career and a baby and that’s why I delayed the decision until my early 30s. But by the time I felt ready my body refused to co-operate. I used to hate people telling me that women should have babies before 30 etc. etc. but I am beginning to wonder now if there is some truth to it i.e. there is a right time for everything.

  22. There is always a dilemma. I got married when i was 24. After 3 years, i could see the pressures mounting at all sides. I was not still prepared. Same questions popped up in my mind. Always felt what is the need or urgency. But now at 32 being a mother of 2, i really laugh at my thoughts. All i will tell you is, things are not tough on the other side. Definitely you will learn on the job or that is how motherhood is supposed to be. There is no book that can teach it all. Each mom has a different experience. Now i know of my aunt having a high risk pregnancy at 40, basically after 10 years of trying and i know what she has gone thru.

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