FULL TITLE: Incomplete to complete: A journey of fulfillment and contentment
The year 2012 is a memorable year for me for many different reasons.
It was a year of highs and lows.
It was the year my husband had to move to India due to H-1b visa issues.
It was the year my grandmother passed into a different world.
It was the year we traveled for a month without any plans in South-East Asia.
It was the year my best friend got pregnant.
It was the year I unexpectedly got pregnant.
It was the date of my best friend’s daughter’s birth.
It was the date I unexpectedly lost my baby.
I went from experiencing the highest of highs to the lowest of lows in less than one hour.
And, I didn’t fully comprehend any of it at the moment. Or for a very long time after.
It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving when I went for my check-up appointment.
The ultrasound technician declared that she couldn’t hear the heartbeat of the baby and
the doctor would do the “needful”.
My mom, who was with me at the appointment, couldn’t comprehend what had happened. “How is it even possible?”, she asked.
The technician then said, “It’s more common than you think. And it’s not a big deal. She will get pregnant again.”
My mom surprised by the lack of emotion and compassion in the technician’s voice, started
I, on the other hand, was like, "Ohh well. I wasn’t expecting it and I guess the time wasn’t right. So, God took away from me what he gave me – all unexpectedly".
Christmas holidays came and went. We didn’t go on a trip or even leave our home those 10
days. It just didn’t seem right to “celebrate”. We stayed at home getting over our grief.
We decided to paint our home. It needed a re-paint, and this seemed like a good mundane
activity to do. We painted the spare bedroom – what would have been our baby’s room –orange. Because who knew if we’d have a boy or girl when we got pregnant again.
We began 2013 by trying for a baby again. A few months passed and we didn’t get
pregnant. We decided to get our tests done to see where the problem was.
Soon we learned that I had premature ovarian failure, and my ovarian reserves were that of a
woman in menopause.
At the age of 31, I was now considered too old, almost past my birth-giving expiry date, and infertile. As I learned more about premature ovarian failure, I knew my choices were limited.
It fell into the category of “inexplainable” infertility. The tag of infertility is what hurt me the most. Shocking as it was, we had no choice but to accept the diagnosis and move towards the
We went through all possible infertility treatments in 2013. We left no stone unturned and spent thousands of dollars on different treatments. Ultimately, our choice was to do IVF, and if that was not successful to do IVF with donor eggs. We did two rounds of IVF in the US and one round of IVF with donor eggs in India.
None of these resulted in pregnancies. The emotional toll of these different treatments and the hope each treatment gave us, only to be shattered two weeks later, was too much to absorb.
In 2014, we decided we had had enough and were no longer going to pursue any treatments to have children.
Arriving at this decision was not easy. I was never the one who thought I was born to be a
In fact, it was my husband who always wanted us to have children. He was born to be a father and had been trying for years to convince me for us to have our own children. Guilty for not listening to him coupled with wanting what I could no longer have, made me very sad.
What helped me get over my sadness was the support I received from my husband and the larger community and the women in my family. My husband, parents, and aunties were my biggest supporters.
My mother stood steadfast in making sure I understood that motherhood was one identity that I could have but not the only identity.
It was also not the most important identity, she said.
She told me that I needed to give my best to become a mother – if that’s what I wanted – so I didn’t have regrets in the future.
But if I couldn’t become a mother, it was not the end of the world. I would not be incomplete.
I also spoke with my mausis and mamis (aunties) who all told me that motherhood was overrated. That I should not place so much emphasis on it that I forget who I am.
They had seen their daughters and daughters-in-law struggle with getting pregnant and then sustaining those pregnancies. They didn’t think the pain and stress was worth it.
They all helped me see who I was, for me.
Not me as a mother but me as a career woman.
Me as a bua (auntie). Me as a wife. Me as a daughter. Me as myself!
They helped me find joy in things I liked to do. I don’t think I could have felt so confident in my decision not to pursue endless infertility treatments if I didn’t have their support. They truly helped me feel confident in who I was.
They helped me understand that infertility was a medical condition that was out of my hands. It was not something I caused or could have changed.
They helped me feel complete. They helped me feel nothing was wrong with me. They helped me understand I was not a bad omen, as often infertile women in the Indian diaspora are considered.
And they stood by me if someone thought otherwise. They argued for me. They fought for me.
They supported me. They were and are my fiercest allies.
In 2015, my husband and I decided to support education for underprivileged girl children in
India. Since then, we have helped one girl become an officer in the Indian Administrative
Services; six girls become nurses; and for the past two years have been supporting the
education of an 8-year-old girl who lost her father to COVID in 2021.
The joy we get in seeing these young girls succeed is indescribable. And we think the reason we don’t have our own kids is so we can support numerous other kids to achieve their dreams.
I think God closed a door on us to open the many windows that bring us immense
(c) Surabhi Jain and (c) Gulabi Stories
Surabhi (she/her) is an immigrant from India. She currently resides in Canada and prior to that lived in the US for 20 years. Surabhi is a leader in the social impact sector. She loves to travel, photograph, and spend time with her niece and nephew.
United States/ Canada / South Asia