I have been off blogging and pretty much everything in the last 8 months. My last blog entry was on June 22, 2017, five days before I went for embryo transfer, yet again. So on this mother’s day I resume my journey on the blogosphere and I begin with an apology to my followers for the long period of silence. I hope after reading this piece they will understand it was for a good course. They will sympathise with mothers (with or without careers). This post is about storytelling. It is a story within a story. It is tribute to the woman I met at the Center for Advanced Medicine, Johannesburg. I will call her my stranger lady friend.
My stranger lady friend came out of the nurse’s room with her medicine cooler bag, to wait for the next step. From where she sat, she could hear us speak Tswana. She moved closer and joined our conversation. My husband withdrew to give us space. Our conversation quickly escalated into a heart-to-heart between seemingly old friends who shared the deepest secrets. Of all the things she said, the one thing that made my hair to stand on its ends was that this was her second attempt at falling pregnant. The first attempt failed because she could not get medication necessary to sustain pregnancy in its early, fragile stage following embryo transfer. By the time she finished and left I took a deep sigh and whispered to myself, “that was uncalled for”. In retrospect I realise it was very called for. My stranger lady friend has no idea how pivotal her story was in my decision to go back for another round of ovulation stimulation after a failed pregnancy attempt. For this reason, I am compelled to share my story. Who knows? It could change someone’s life somewhere.
I believe stories make the world go round. One of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, Richard Branson has written extensively about the role of storytelling in business. In fact, he has dedicated the month of March to storytelling on Virgin.com
Jean Luc Godard, the French-Swiss film director shares his view about stories… “Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.”
My story goes… 1st September 2016, I decide to take another shot at fertility treatment. This meant another round of steroids. They come in injections. Several of them. Some are administered on the tummy, some on the bum. [This was the one time I appreciated my belly fat]. I was literally a mobile pharmacy. The second attempt was another round of anxiety as the mind oscillated between hope and fear. On a positive note, the second round is much better than the first in that one knows what is coming and how to prepare for it. I took advantage of this prior experience and decided to have my embryos frozen so I could take a step back, cool off and get ready for the final part. I also skipped the counselling bit. Dr. Kelly’s words (from the first round) were engrained in my heart, head and mind.
“…The problem with sharing the news with people is that there will be many broken hearts, should things not happen, which is a possibility. That is not all. There is the risk of ill-timed questions that would force you to relive the trauma, at a time when you have put the disappointment to rest…”
The words became a lesson for my next attempt. I did things differently this time around and that entailed keeping them under wraps. It was the hardest thing. My life is an open book.
Fast forward to 2018 February 07, when I welcomed my twin boys into this world.
Now back to Mother’s Day which I have celebrated all these years thanks to the three girls who have always addressed me as mother and mommy. I am pleased to celebrate this year’s Mother’s Day with the two boys who have tilted my universe, grounded me in all respects and reduced my concentration span to that of a seven-year-old. I could not ‘read’ much less write anything comprehensive during my pregnancy. My life came to a standstill. Reading and writing are my bread and butter. I felt sorry and at the same time developed much respect for all the women I have seen enduring a pregnancy while pursuing their studies. It brought me to the realization that there will always be fewer women than men in the academia, an imbalance I believe could be sorted out by giving women lots of special dispensations during pregnancy. I am going to give my students extra support during this special time of their lives.
Amid the new challenge pre- and post-natal I had to contend with the scariest contemplation…should I drop everything and focus on raising my two precious pumpkins? The two options that ran through my mind were: quit my job or take the longest unpaid leave I could get. I chose none of the two. What I decided to do was not an option, but the only thing I had to do. I knew I had to work harder than I ever did. Suddenly every decision I make revolves around my babies: their welfare and most of all their future. It is hard juggling motherhood with a career and academic aspirations. There were a few opportunities I had to waive. I thank the heavens for my new resolve.
Maya Angelou reiterates the essence of storytelling in these few words “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story.”
This is my story. Well, one of them. Tell us about yours.
Happy Mother’s Day