So, there is something spectacularly ironic about being infertile in a third world country. So many unwanted pregnancies as a result of poor education, lack of empowerment and unequal sexual relations.
I do some volunteer work for an organization that aims to support ‘at risk’ pregnant moms in order that they can bond optimally with their infants and therefore foster healthy attachments and prevent a host of psychological problems further down the line. My role at the moment is to help with some of their research by interviewing some of these at risk moms (sorry about the long backstory).
So yesterday saw me interviewing a woman of my age (35), pregnant with her fifth child… Another girl on top of the three she already has. She was really hoping for a boy, who are valued more highly in her culture. She was devastated to be pregnant as neither she nor her husband is working and she has no idea how she will feed this latest child. Her husband is thrilled. She tried to abort the baby herself as she could not afford an abortion… She drank strong tea, coffee and coke as she had heard these were bad for babies. She was on the contraceptive injection and had taken active steps to prevent another pregnancy. Now she has one more mouth to feed and her life, and that of her children, gets that much harder. I wanted to weep.
And it leads me to the constant question of why? Why me? Why her? Why does a couple who have everything to offer a child have no children and a poor, desperate woman who cannot provide for herself, let alone a child, have five? I don’t know the answer. I only know that living in South Africa provides so much opportunity to be grateful for what we DO have. I can be grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly and the opportunity to experience extremely expensive medical procedures in the quest for a child. As much as I long for her fertility, I know I am so much more fortunate than the poor woman I encountered yesterday.