By Nyla Ovais
‘For indeed, with hardship (will be) ease.’(Surah Ash Sharh 94: 5-6)
I came across the above mentioned reassuring reminder from the Noble Quran, while scrolling down my Instagram news feed. I stopped right there and decided to share my account of the long struggle and sorrow we dealt with because of infertility. I am a very private person and I hardly talk about my battle and the pain I suffered because of Unexplained Infertility.
The reason why I want to share my personal struggle is to provide some sort of solace and comfort to those who are facing the same dilemma or are in worse situation than ours. I believe it helps to know that you are not suffering alone and others have been through the same or similar trial- it could bring a moment of solace to someone in depression. There are very few platforms available for Muslim women to express their feelings and seek counselling. Alhumdolillah we can now communicate and interact with like-minded individuals with just a click of a button.
There’s no denying that the Noble Quran becomes a beacon of light for us when nothing seems to make sense, and one is lost in the darkness of despair and hopelessness. Yet, we only need to open our mind and heart to seek help through the Divine Words!
The first ‘ease’ with my hardship
As with so many other women facing the same challenges, my struggle with Unexplained Infertility was very hard. There were times when I used to become overwhelmingly depressed and emotionally distraught at not being able to conceive. I used to feel like a complete failure, an incomplete woman. Self-pity, a dangerous emotion, used to suck me into that dark pit of despair.
I was young and naive at that time, and I used to long for a baby in my arms. At the start of every monthly cycle I used to cry uncontrollably, but I was fortunately consoled by my loving husband who was also clueless as to how to deal with his own disappointment and his weeping wife. All this went on very secretly for several years. We decided to keep our sorrow and failure to ourselves. We used to try our very best to appear to be a very happy, loving couple.
No one knew of our private suffering. I must acknowledge how tremendously supportive and loving my husband remained throughout this long and tiring struggle. We never allowed our grief to strain our relationship. This, I consider my personal “ease”, Alhumdolillah!
The second ‘ease’ with my hardship
With the Grace of Almighty Allah swt, I developed a connection with the Holy Quran. I started reading the Quran with translation and that opened up new horizons for me which I never knew existed.
Then came the time when I came across these two Ayahs from Surah ash-Shura:
‘To Allah belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth; He creates what He wills. He gives to whom He wills female (children), and He gives to whom He wills males. Or He makes them (both) males and females, and He renders whomever He wills barren. He is All-Knowing and Competent.’ (Surah ash Shura 42:49-50)
Reading these two Ayahs left me in awe and brought my second “ease” Alhumdolillah. It gave me immense support immediately and it gave me the answer to “Why me?”
I started to take control of my grief and I tried my best to focus on the innumerable blessings and bounties Allah swt bestowed upon us. Dealing with infertility isn’t always hard on women only. Men also go through difficult times and emotional challenges. When a couple who’s struggling to get pregnant decides to seek medical help, they enter a phase of complex and expensive treatments. Each cycle brings mixed feelings of hope, disgrace, stress, and disappointments. Most of the couples (especially the ones belonging to Eastern cultures) suffer in private since discussing one’s reproductive/infertility problems are considered a taboo. The constant pressure to conceive in a methodical manner usually strains the marital relationship. They seem to get stuck in a state of frustration and find no way to resolve their emotional issues.
Fortunately , my husband and I never ever complained about our personal grief and our battle to conceive to anyone. We kept it to ourselves and we learned to console each other. This reminds me of another amazing Ayah from Surah Yusuf:
‘He said:“I only complain of my suffering and my grief to Allah, and I know from Allah that which you do not know.” (Surah Yusuf 12: 86)
Reading this Ayah left me with great gratitude and I thanked Allah swt for giving us the reward for being patient over this trial and for giving us enough strength to stay contented with His plans for us. I want to teach others how a strong spiritual connection with Almighty Allah swt helps in the face of any hardships and trials.
What this hardship has taught us
Fertility treatment is a repetitive series of physical and emotional rigors. If unsuccessful, it’s a vicious cycle that begins with hope and ends in despair and depression. Add to it shame and embarrassment associated with medical treatments, not to mention the financial strain.
On the social front, most infertile couples dread the “questionnaire” after admitting they have no children. The floodgates of advice, suggestions, along with intrusive inquiries and sympathetic remarks overwhelm you. If you really want to help a distressed infertile couple then offer them your support, not your opinions.
The Noble Quran teaches us in (Surah Hujraat 49: 12) ‘Do not spy (on one another)’
Do not seek people’s secrets, nor search for their defects and weaknesses. Do not pry into their conditions and affairs. This simple fact needs to be adopted by society. A childless couple/person is normal. Their childlessness is not a choice but a matter of staying submissive to Allah’s swt Wisdom and His grand plans for us.
Therefore, be considerate of other people’s feelings. Prying into someone’s personal life is ill-mannered. I learned not to ask trivial questions like “Are you married?”, or “How many children do you have?” I get asked the same question over and over again and every time, despite smiling and my courageous reply that I don’t have any children, I still suffer self-pity, hurt and despair. But Alhumdolillah I recover very quickly.
I still have to endure the sympathetic looks, probing questions and comments which I find extremely unnecessary and insensitive. Our struggle was painful at first because of societal pressures. We women are brought up to think that immediate conception is the natural outcome of marriage. No one seems to understand that we are not at all capable of creating life until and unless He, the Supreme Power, wills it for us.
My husband and I came to terms with the fact that it is ‘normal’ to be a childless couple. Alhumdolillah, we are leading a very healthy and happy married life. It’s been 26 years, Masha Allah, and still counting.
My message to all the women who are struggling with any trial or tragedy is to never lose hope. Have complete faith in Allah swt. His ‘Rehma’ encompasses all things. Stay connected with the Noble Quran. It has got all the answers to the mysteries of life and beyond.