Sandy from how beautiful are the feet and her husband are currently working in Namibia in Africa as teachers at a school for AIDS orphans. Sandy's story is of Watjantja a woman she first met almost ten years ago in remote Namibia, but it's also the story of millions of women around the world as infertility affects roughly 1 in 7 women worldwide. As expats we often talk about what is different from home, but some things, unfortunately, are universal.
I usually write about life in Namibia and what is going on in the lives of the students that my husband and I work with. Not many people know about our struggle to get pregnant, and it is not something I have discussed on my blog. When Blondie presented the opportunity to write a guest spot for her I thought it would be a great way to share some of the things I have noticed in dealing with IF in a foreign country.
In 2002, when I lived in Namibia, I met a lady who could not have children. Her name is Watjantja, she lives in Swartbooisdrif, one of the most remote villages in Namibia. There are no medical doctors there; in fact, there are no fertility specialists in the entire country of Namibia. In the Himba culture (recently showed in the movie “Babies”) children are life. Without children you are doomed to be forgotten. Her husband did what almost any Himba husband in that situation would do, he took a second wife who bore him many children without any problem. At the time I was sad for her, but I could never grasp the full force of the devastation behind her expression as she told us all of this.
Fast forward to 2009, my husband and I are about to finish college and we are finally ready to begin our family. I remember that day like it was yesterday, we sat in a restaurant and decided that it was finally time to start trying. The absolute possibilities of what that decision meant for our future made both of us cry. Now here I sit at the beginning of 2011, it has been almost two years and we are no closer to having our family than we were that day in the restaurant. In the last two years I have had several diagnoses thrown at me from doctors thousands of miles apart. (Including PCOS, Endometriosis and Anovulation “here have some Clomid!!!”) Who knew that trying to have a baby included so many needles and an absolute stripping down of one’s dignity?
In 2010 we returned to Swartbooisdrif, Watjantja’s village. She was still there, as barren as ever. When she saw me her eyes lit up, then she looked down at my arms searching for a child. When our eyes met again she read me like a book, her expression said : “You are like me aren’t you?” In an instant she recognized the pain, the emptiness, the hopelessness, and the loneliness in my eyes and in my empty arms. Watjantja can speak no English and through a translator she said “Don’t be like me!” To this day it is one of the hardest and most comforting things I have experienced on this road of infertility.
The one lesson I have learned in dealing with IF and travelling across the world is that women of every culture language color and economic standing share the same feeling of emptiness and heartache when it comes to IF. Anywhere on earth you will be able to find someone who has been touched by this relentless pain and someone who , without having to say anything, can understand the hurt that you are feeling.