I don’t remember why, but someone commented “Rebellious” on my social media posts.

A wave of emotions struck me. Dang! This is exactly who I am. I would normally describe myself as a dedicated rule follower, but when I think about two momentous occasions in my life, my marriage and my fertility journey, I am a rebel. Let me explain.

When my husband and I met, arranged marriages were the common way to meet your future spouse — wherein parents would find a “suitable” companion for their children within their closed Hindu community. As you can imagine, it was a big deal for a traditional Hindu family to accept my Muslim groom for their daughter. Our marital association could best be described as an “Indian Romeo and Juliet.” But being a rebel, we persevered and our marriage eventually turned into a blessing for both of our families.

 

After our move to California, we started preparing for our family. And if my marital association was the first rebellious act in my life, my journey to build a family was the second. At the very young age of thirty-one, I was diagnosed with severely diminished ovarian reserves (DOR), making pregnancy with my own eggs nearly impossible. I still remember how the devastating diagnosis was delivered to me over the phone. The nurse’s callous tone described my ovaries as “working like a forty-five-year-old,” and no matter how much we tried, or how much money we had, I would never be able to get pregnant with my own eggs.

 

My life froze. The diagnosis was a lot to process for new immigrants naive to the US healthcare system. Reality seemed to quickly shatter our dreams of building the “perfect American family.” And aside from my life plan being derailed, I experienced the fertility emotional hell of loneliness, shame, self-doubt, and lack of worthiness.

 

Utilizing our scientific backgrounds, my husband and I became as educated as possible about the topic of infertility. We tried and learn about our options, and not knowing which doctors to trust, we went “doctor shopping.” In a defiant act of rebellion, we changed three doctors in six months. Eventually we found the angel of our life, Dr. Aimee.  She believed in my fertility and was willing to give me a chance no matter how low the probabilities of success.

 

In an effort to make my body more responsive to fertility treatments, our doctor devised a game plan to increase my chances. This included innumerable hours of research, empowering scientific knowledge, weekly visits for acupuncture, countless supplements to improve egg quality, and a focused attempt to persevere with zeal, rigor, an open mindset and IVF.

 

The results were both beautiful and precious.  With my own eggs, my husband and I were blessed with twins conceived via IVF.

 

Being rebellious paid off.

 

Listen to your heart, learn to differentiate signal from noise, ask questions, seek clarity, get organized with medical records, empower yourself with scientific knowledge, believe in yourself, persevere, and stay goal oriented. And most importantly, do not go down the rabbit hole of fertility-related overwhelm and negative emotions.

 

As a RESOLVE  peer-led support group leader, now I empower other women to become rebels. No one should suffer in isolation — and the taboo topic of fertility should be easily discussed. And sometimes, the internet, the medical community, and outdated societal norms, need to be ignored.

 
Take ownership of your fertility journey, be rebellious.
Nimisha Gandhi  is Cell and Gene therapy Scientist contributing to development of novel therapies for cancer and rare genetic disorders. Her personal struggle to procreate turned her into Resolve Peer-Led support group leader promoting fertility awareness and supporting local community.”