If you haven't listened to the latest episode of The Woke Desi, you can check it out here. As always, likes, subscriptions, comments and shares determine when and how we're listened to--any help is so appreciated!
By now, if you haven't figured it out already, we're beginning to settle into a groove over at The Woke Desi...we've figured out production, a little more about how to structure an episode, and how we jive as a group of three outspoken women.
It's a learning curve. But we wanted to begin with chilled out topics so we could bring our authentic selves as we learned more. We knew around episode 5, we'd be comfortable enough to start delving into the heavier subjects...the ones that will put us on different sides of the issue, let us argue and allow our experiences to speak for themselves.
This episode was one hell of a way to dive in.
Shreeda Tailor had emailed about doing an infertility episode and shared a summary of her story: that she'd had a combination of miscarriages, termination, and child loss.
"Yes." I thought. "Women's health, women's rights, and an issue everyone faces." I'm a sucker for women's health. Moms. Babies. You name it. The girls agreed on needing to cover this.
A few hours later, Rashmi Kudesia, a doctor who actually knows Shreeda and lives in Houston too, emailed separately about the same thing!
"A doctor emailed," I wrote back to Shreeda.
"Was it Rashmi?" she asked.
Together, we decided to broach miscarriage, infertility, child loss, and some reproductive health in one episode that really ran the races on the depth of loss and different facets of it.
There's a lot of misconceptions around reproductive health that I'm glad Rashmi cleared up--like the sheer mystery of infertility. 40% of men contribute to struggling couples' conception troubles, and the other half (roughly) is due to a woman--but WHAT the issue is, can be a total "we have no clue." I knew the chances of conception decline as women age--most people know that--but I sure as hell didn't know that it's a 5% chance each month around the age of 40.
What struck me about Shreeda's story wasn't just the grief--yes, that's overwhelming and painful to hear about. But the smaller details she included that added such gravitas to the experience of losing a child..."Do I flush it?" That's a baby, it suddenly dawned on me. A baby that was wanted, and even in my own healthcare mind, couldn't simply be seen as a fetus when its mother wanted a child so badly.
Sahaara's funeral was cruel. It's mindblowing to me how much some states (looking at you, now, Texas) dictate what a mother and father have to go through when they've already endured so much. A funeral? A casket made from a shipping box and satin because coffins don't come made that small? $500 additional to push a cremation button? Having to birth, then name, and bury a child that wouldn't have made it even with the most sophisticated medical intervention?
It was not only heartbreaking, it was infuriating.
And her husband...by including his narrative, his words about Shreeda's pain haunting him and her cries replaying in his ears, it drove home that these losses, while centered around the woman who births the child, include a partner that is often forgotten in his own pain. Many of these dads are aware they want kids. They have so much love to give. And it's really hard for them to see the loss of the child, but also witness their partner's pain as it happens.
The other thing about sadness...that both Rashmi and Shreeda touched on--is that the world continues on and you're stuck in your grief while it happens. Nothing changes about your routine, like your coffee place or your job, but everything inside you has changed and there is nowhere to make sense of it.
And the South Asian community...seriously, guys. Why do we have such a culture of blame for women and men who can't have children? When I asked Rashmi that same question, her answers about how we're a results-oriented culture put things into perspective...because the fact is, generations above us can't fathom that a marriage won't result in a child. What about people who don't want kids? What about the ones who can't have them and want them? What about the million other possibilities? Something needs to change. It's not okay that people have to cry in their cars, avoid telling people about their pregnancies because they're so afraid they'll lose it, and not have an outlet for grief.
Shreeda mentioned there were literally NO support groups in Houston for child loss. None! How is that even possible? In a population of over a billion, statistically speaking, millions and millions have had miscarriages alone. That's unacceptable. We need to provide a place for women AND men to be able to feel sad that these dreams went away with their child, or that they may have to face the reality that their dreams will remain unfulfilled.
If this episode did anything, I hope it shed light on the issues couples go through as they try to conceive as South Asians, and what happens when they can't. It's not just a woman's issue. It's a couple's issue. It's a human issue. And this shaming and lack of support needs to stop. We need to be better.