Altrui Blog Takeover: Taboos are Beautiful
13th August 2019
We are always in awe of the generosity and general loveliness of our egg donors, and this story is no exception. One of our amazing egg donors is calling for an end to the stigmas and taboos surrounding egg donation, especially in south Asian communities. She wrote this moving piece and took these stunning pictures to help spread awareness on miscarriage and egg donation and emphasise the urgency of positive action and education. We are delighted to share her uniquely eye-opening work.
Taboos are beautiful
In some communities, egg donation is seen as an outrageous matter, and is surrounded by plenty of misconceptions. For example, that women who donate their eggs will become the mother of the donor-conceived child, and should therefore only use eggs for their own family. The key word is donation. Donation is when something is given to someone else. Women suffering with infertility wouldn’t struggle in silence if more education on the topic was available, and if more people were willing to discuss it. During one’s childhood, everyone learns about prevention and how not to get pregnant. We are taught about abstinence, birth control and condoms. However, it is equally important to teach about infertility and normalise it. With that, people will realise that egg donation does not make one responsible for the child: it is just like blood donation – It does not make the donor responsible for the person who receives the donation.
When we talk about sperm donation, it’s like a simple act free of consequences, and yet people say egg donation is like giving one of your children away. Women are encouraged to seek help for infertility, but considered faulty for not having children. When does this vicious cycle end? We must stop shaming women!
Taboos are colourful
Miscarriage is considered such an inauspicious matter. The story of a pure magical being bleeding away is a forbidden story. And those who think miscarriage shouldn’t be discussed in public or private, ignore the fact that as a result of their way of thinking, a woman carries the guilt, shame, and confusion of losing a baby. It is like a rope around her neck strangling her forever. Talking openly about experience of miscarriage helps loosen this rope. There is no one specific reason as to why miscarriage happens. It doesn’t happen because the woman decided to eat shrimp or pineapple. It didn’t happen because she decided to have sex with her partner, and it didn’t happen because she travelled. It didn’t happen because she didn’t love her foetus or because she’s impure. It didn’t happen because she danced or was herself. It just happens!
Everyone processes traumatic events differently, and everyone has the right to share their story, as much or as little as they want to. That’s a given. There should be no shame. It happens every second, every minute, every day, all around the world yet no one speaks of it. 15 to 20 percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. It’s part of life and is not dictated by creed, race, or age. It’s universal. Talking about one’s experience is a huge comfort, even if pain is still raw. The woman is not unlucky; she just had an unlucky experience.
Taboos are colourful
Our culture doesn’t believe in talking about depression. It is considered to be non-existent and frowned upon. I sympathise with those who not only have depression but other mental illnesses too. Because if there is no outlet, depression will continue to exist even if one takes medication. This darkness people are facing can be hidden, they may be pretending to be fine but deep down, they are depressed, and this is what makes up one’s personality, how one responds, how one copes and how one is able to go from one day to another, every day, over and over again. Families don’t want any of their kids to say ‘I’m depressed Amma’ because they take it as though it’s their fault. Sometimes that is the case, other times it has nothing to do with them. This has to change. Parents need to allow their children to open up about their problems. Depression is a real thing. Counselling is seen as an abomination but it is ever so necessary, for individuals as well as for families. Unrecognised resentments lead to horrendous future.
There are a lot of families who are concerned about their grown-up children, married children; had they accepted depression in their children’s younger years, they could have moulded their children’s future the right way. The more one keeps it hidden away the worse it will become, and the more one is in denial the longer it will take before one starts to get the help one needs. Sometimes there are no reasons as to why people feel the way they do. Growing up is tough! Going through puberty is tough! Being from a culturally and linguistically diverse background family poses additional expectations on children of migrants who often have to live with one set of rules, beliefs, and language at home and another in the outside world is tough! This is tough in itself and can affect mental health, especially at a time when everyone desperately seeks to fit in and belong. Many of the hidden messages that are received from families influence people at a subconscious level. Too often, people who are supposedly close are the ones that understand less. Seeking help and speaking to a professional who is not emotionally invested is the best solution. Sometimes in life, people realise that they’re not well, they are not socialising and they can’t get through the day—that’s when they must go and get the help needed.
Plenty of charities and organisations are there to offer support. If you have suffered miscarriage, organisations such as the Miscarriage Association are available to help. Leading charities such as Mind and the Samaritans have helplines for those struggling with mental health. And the Fertility Network has a dedicated support line for individuals struggling with infertility.
If you’d like to learn more about giving someone the precious gift of life through egg donation, please get in touch on 01969 667 875– we’d love to hear from you.