Perhaps it is the mystery at the heart of birth—our inability to explain how a group of cells turns into a living, breathing baby—that lends it such importance. And a woman who is not able to give birth is regarded deficient in some crucial way. Society’s worst form of cruelty is often not obvious; it is in the hushed whispers, the slanting looks, the pointed hints, the condescending ‘tips’. And this is what Neena George writes about in Just A Miracle: My Tryst With Infertility.
The fact that infertility is painful is known. But the magnitude of the pain, and how it plays out in daily life, was a revelation. It is not simply a problem you have to face; it is a paralysis of life as you know it. For George, it started while she was living in Goa with her husband, an engineer in the Navy. One day, during a holiday in Mumbai, she experienced an excruciating pain in the lower abdomen. The diagnosis: An ovarian cyst which would need to be removed surgically. Afterwards, she developed adhesions in her abdomen which made it difficult to conceive, if not impossible. The young couple was shattered.
“I considered myself worse than the most worthless creature I could find around,” writes George. “I even suggested to my husband that he could leave me and get married again.”
What followed was a series of experimental treatments, hours of waiting outside doctors’ offices, clutching at the slightest straws— which included driving eight hours to see a tribal doctor—and resorting to superstitions like keeping a coconut husk shaped like a cradle. Her sense of worthlessness increased and she started imagining that everyone she knew was discussing her problem behind her back. Infertility shatters your sense of self, narrowing your identity into the single fact of your inability to conceive.
But through it all, George does not give up hope. The development, and, in a deeper sense, enlargement of her personality through her infertility is wonderful to behold. She grows strong mentally, leaning on faith to carry her through. George is testament to the truth that the problems you face in life are not meant to hinder you, but rather to set you free. And it is often when you have made peace with yourself that a miracle happens.
There is an honesty to her writing. She does not hold anything back, like the heart-breaking description of how she used to weep in bed every night, trying to keep it quiet so as not to wake her husband. It takes courage to reveal your deepest vulnerabilities, and a genuine desire to help others who are experiencing the same pain. George evidently has both.
Just A Miracle: My Tryst With Infertility
By Neena George
Published by Notion Press
Price Rs399; pages 176