“Thomas* and I married when we were in our late 20s. We were deeply in love and, although we were eager to start a family straight away, we decided to wait a few years before trying – just until we moved into our own home and were both financially stable.
“When I was 33, Thomas and I were finally ready to start trying for a child. We were both still relatively young and pretty healthy, so I didn’t think there’d be any problems with me conceiving. But, when I still hadn’t fallen pregnant after 14 months, I began to worry.”
A devastating diagnosis
“Thomas and I scheduled an appointment with a doctor who specialised in fertility. After discussing my menstrual history and our lifestyles and sexual habits with us, she recommended that we go through a comprehensive physical and medical assessment. The tests would help determine why I had trouble falling pregnant and possibly give the doctor some idea as to how to approach the problem.
“After a semen analysis revealed that there was nothing wrong with Thomas’ fertility, the doctor’s focus shifted to me. She put me through a barrage of tests, among them a physical exam, blood tests, hormone tests, and a pelvic exam.
“After weeks of tests and consultations – all of which cost us quite a bit of money – my doctor found that, not only did I suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, which affected the development of my eggs, I also had endometriosis, a rare disease that causes the abnormal growth of the uterine lining. My endometriosis was moderate, which was still enough to affect my fertility, and I was shocked to learn that I had it because I’d not experienced any symptoms.
“Over the next year I had to endure more tests and was prescribed various fertility treatments. I also had to have surgery, which was far from pleasant. It was a stressful and draining time for my husband and me, not just physically and emotionally but financially, too. Worse, it put a huge strain on our marriage.”
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“Initially, Thomas was extremely supportive. Knowing how upset I was after my diagnosis, he stuck by me and told me not to worry. Whenever I needed to cry or talk about how I felt, he would hold me, comfort me and listen to me. As trying a time as it was, I had no reason to believe that Thomas would be anything other than encouraging, loving and understanding.
“After some time, though, Thomas grew distant from me and stopped communicating with me the same way. In fact, he became downright hostile and seemed resentful towards me. One night he even told me that our inability to have children was my fault and that he wouldn’t have married me had he known that I had so many health issues.
“At first I let Thomas’ outburst go, thinking that he was just stressed with everything that was going on. But soon it became clear that this wasn’t just a phase.
“The next couple of years were especially hard. It was bad enough having to deal with my diagnosis and the possibility that I might never be a mum, but at the same time, Thomas and I stopped trying to have a baby. Things between us were so bad that we rarely had sex anymore and he even stopped accompanying me to my doctor visits. Soon, I stopped seeing my doctor too.”
The final straw
“I confided my marriage problems in my mum, who suggested I seek couples’ counselling. Initially, Thomas wasn’t keen on the idea, but he later had a change of heart and agreed to come along to the counselling sessions with me. During these sessions, he expressed his frustration at our not being able to have a child and said that my medical conditions were adding to his stress. It was good to discuss our emotions and I prayed that we would find a resolution so that we could go back to the way things were.
“But Thomas’ willingness to work things out was short-lived. After just two months of counselling he told me that he couldn’t stay married to me anymore. His reason: he desperately wanted to start a family and wanted to be with a woman who could give him a child. He told me that it was nothing personal and that he still loved and cared about me, but that he couldn’t stick around if my chances of falling pregnant were slim to none. ‘I can’t see this marriage working,’ he said. ‘As much as I love you we cannot be a complete family if we don’t have children’.
“I was devastated. But what made me especially angry was when Thomas implied that I should have undergone fertility tests before I agreed to marry him. In his opinion, I had ‘deceived’ him. I couldn’t believe his insensitivity and tactlessness. That was the final straw for me. I agreed to a separation, and at the moment we’re working out details of our divorce.
“I am still trying to come to terms with my problems conceiving. My doctor doesn’t rule out the possibility of my ever falling pregnant, but as I’m single now, and plan to be single for a while, I guess I won’t be having children anytime soon. If I do remarry I will probably be in my 40s and we all know how difficult it is for a woman that age to conceive.
“Looking back, Thomas probably wasn’t the right man for me. I married him thinking that we’d be together no matter what, and if he were the infertile one, I definitely would have stood by him and not resented him for it. I wouldn’t have used his medical problems as an excuse for walking away from our marriage. I guess I was a fool for believing that he would have done the same for me. To this day, I feel betrayed and cheated. At the lowest point in my life, the one person whom I expected to stay with me, abandoned me, and I don’t think I’ll ever get over that.”