September 22, 2020

Vandana Anil Dass says age or modern tools like IVF aren’t barriers for motherhood.

Meet a mum who went ahead with her pregnancy in her late thirties and now she is a mum to twins. Vandana shares with Mums and Stories her story of being a mom, a long awaited wish that finally got fulfilled.

Vandana says, “My life was all planned. I got married at 26, and had planned to give two years to marriage before having children. One year after marriage, in 2007, my husband and I felt ready, so we started trying to have a baby but were not able to succeed. Every month when I got periods, someone or the other called to tell me they dreamt I was pregnant. Once out of the blue, our office security guard lady asked me if I was married and if I have children, when I told her no children, she said, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll definitely have.’

With all these things, and my fear of medical procedures, I never wanted to see a doctor. However, in 2009, I finally went to see a doctor and kept praying that nothing should come in the scans and that’s what happened. Both of us were perfectly alright but it was informed as unexplained infertility.

Reluctantly, I went through 3 cycles of IUI between 2009-10. During my last IUI, I decided to quit my corporate career to focus on my health, family and my passion for working with children.

After last IUI failed, I was recommended to go for IVF but I was dead against it. To me IVF meant interfering too much with nature, putting my health at risk and lack of faith. People used to keep suggesting me to go for IVF and a few suggested to go for adoption.

Then one day, somewhere in 2016, one of our friends, who is also our church pastor spoke with me about it. And I told him that I truly feel it’s a sheer interference in God’s business. If God wants me to have children they’ll come if not they won’t.’ Then what my friend said stayed with me throughout. He told me this,’ who do you think have wisdom to doctors and scientists? Even with IVF, success will come only if it’s God’s plan.’

That truly made sense to me but I was still not ready, then once when we were going for Carol singing I got a chance to sit with our friend who had triplets through IVF. I really call it divine providence because we were going somewhere that will take an hour to reach. When she shared about her journey with IVF, I realized that children, through any procedure, will come only if it’s God’s plan, no one can interfere with that.

That’s when I decided to ‘at least’ meet the doctor. So in June 2017, we started the procedure. There were so many injections, scans, and hospital visits. I was too scared but my husband was so supportive, empathetic and patient, that the journey seemed better.

After multiple rounds where the results were negative almost towards the end, our doctor explained our options of going for one more round with 15% chances of success (as I was already 40) or we can look for adoption because of our age.

I still remember the disappointment my husband had, while in my mind I kept thinking ‘God you know the best’. After much discussion, we decided to have one more go.

Twins Akash Anthony Dass and Anya Rani Dass -Photograph subject to copyright

Getting pregnant at 40 was an adventure in itself. Though from day one, I was considered high risk, I actually had a very smooth journey with me driving, walking, shopping etc by myself till the last trimester.

Since I was considered high risk due to age, history of diabetes in family, IVF and Twins, I was tested for diabetes in my first trimester itself and I was found to be GDM. It was actually blessing in disguise. Because of this I was careful with my diet and walking and hence the total weight gain, I had, was only 7 kgs.

Incidentally there was no pressure from family as such to begin a family soon. Somehow I also believe that God signals when children enter our lives. I had two options. Either I could enjoy my non child phase or get desperate about it. As a couple, we have enjoyed travelling, bike rides, hiking etc. and glad to say that we cherished our non – child phase and now will be enjoying with children too.

Unfortunately, a lot of women struggling with infertility or unable to conceive tend to get jealous or sad seeing other’s children. It was only once that I had felt that way. Other times, I was friendly with the children of my friends and relatives. My nephews and nieces are also close to me, since I could be their partner in crime. I feel that women  need to acknowledge the man’s emotions as well and try not to take things personally and blame themselves. At times, when people came and said something, I told them we are enjoying our freedom. Then because I didn’t want to go for IVF, whenever someone suggested that, I’ll get a bit upset but won’t let it linger on my head, so that kept me calm and happy.

In my opinion, one needs to go for treatment protocols with lot of determination, patience and acceptance that everything will be fine and according to God’s plan.

There were loads of medicines and procedures and even injections. Earlier I used to be so scared of injections that I would faint but during IVF I became brave injecting myself. I must admit that I had an anxiety attack during first procedure, but the doctor was so good that I felt comforted. After that I never had that problem. For me procedures didn’t feel painful but for some it could be, depending on their situation.

See, one thing that greatly worked in my favour is that I had no health issues at all. Only condition I was worried about was my Bipolar because this involved a lot of hormones, but since I was aware of it, I could manage it. I had built a support group who I could go to or talk with at any time. I have prayer partners who will pray with me. I have friends whose house I could go and stay at. So, it’s important to have a support group. Not too many people but have those who are truly interested in your well-being.”

Talking about the elaborate procedure Vandana shares with Mums and Stories, “ After multiple rounds of FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) in one cycle of IVF, I too had lost patience but I guess talking to successful cases is what helped and one more thing I continued doing is talking to women who came there for treatment. I’ve met many different women and added many in my prayer list as well.

 Getting into motherhood at this age as I have reached my forties has been amazing.  I feel I’m better equipped, more mature, emotionally stronger and cool now than when I was 25-30. Also, children give you another chance to relive your childhood. So am happy it happened late. But seeing that my dad and mom in law are now gone, I feel that babies will miss that part. I too did not spend much time with my grandparents, so wanted my children to have that. Physically, my husband and I are now determined to stay fit because we need to have the energy for two.

 Being a mom is overwhelming. They are three and a half month old and just yesterday, I suddenly got up remembering, ‘oh, I’m a mom now’. Twins is fun. Like my husband said, it’s the same 24hrs work but the blessing is double.”

Talking about considering various options of adoption or IVF or other methods, Vandana shares, “Honestly, I had considered adoption but my husband wasn’t sure if he’ll be able to give that love to an adopted child and hence did not want to adopt. I would recommend IVF only if you can afford it and have physical strength to go through it. I had my fears with IVF thinking children might have some abnormality but then I remember reading an article that said ‘the only difference in IVF and normal conception is that you haven’t had intercourse’. Any abnormality that happens is because of the same reason due to which you are not able to conceive. Also, in case of IVF, they take the best eggs and sperms, and monitor you so closely that chances of anomalies would be less.

Again, I would any day recommend considering adoption before IVF. But please understand that adoption is not an easy journey if not done for the best interest of the child. I met an adoption counsellor during an inauguration, this was when I was already seventh month pregnant. When I told her my husband’s view, she said, ‘That’s very mature and honest view. It’s better not to adopt than to adopt half-heartedly.’

My suggestion is for both husband and wife to be open to communicate even if it leads to fight. Speak your mind clearly and respectfully, it’s a child’s life. There were times when I felt like it’s a torture, then one day it occurred to me that ‘if a man wants to have his own child, he can’t do it on his own, so as his wife should I not try to have him fulfill this wish. And if it’s God’s plan, we’ll adopt.’ I have a friend who has adopted a girl, she told me, ‘Vandana, the child God has written for you will come to you, be it through conception or adoption. No one can stop that.’

This technology has definitely been a boon to parents like us. It’s so advanced and yet depends on God because no science can tell you exactly when the heartbeat will come in the fetus.

My advice to would be parents is to be prepared as much as possible but don’t buy too much. Try to get recycled stuff coz most things especially clothes, you won’t use much longer. For me Clothes, feeding pillow, sling, bedding, bath tub, car seats, stroller, etc were given by friends who have young children. Don’t go overboard with spending. Instead invest in a good quality breast pump and sterilizer- two things that have made my life easy. Both were gifted by friends

Tell your friends and family what you need. Remember to take help from whoever offers. I had a friend and her daughter come and stay when my helper went on leave. There was a day I was going crazy because of back pain and hubby had a meeting. I just called one of the friends, packed my bags and stayed at her place that afternoon. So ladies, please don’t think that you have to do everything by yourself. Take help especially involve your husband and it’ll help him create that bond. He should be able to help you from Day 1. Trust him and please be patient with him. He is as nervous and inexperienced as you.

You can get the hospital bag list from any of the pregnancy sites.  I’d also recommend the app ‘What to Expect’, it makes the journey easy.

 Always remember that life will never be same. Raising children is hard work. You become secondary but it’s worth it because it teaches you what selflessness is. It takes you to a higher level.

Also, very important ladies, take care of your health. Eat healthy and eat plenty, you’ll need it. If you are healthy, you can take care of the family. Mental health is equally important. Don’t wait for people to call you, you call your friends.

I used to have a conference call with two of my school time friends every evening. They didn’t let me overthink or feel low. I got back in touch with a friend whom I didn’t meet for almost seven years. I made a new friend through FB. She stays closer so I could meet her.

I also spoke almost daily to my cousin who has twins. During pregnancy I had quit work and chose to stay at home to take care of myself.  I did embroidery, some knitting, painting (things I’ve never done in my life before). I made things and gifted to friends.

I must share that finally babies were born healthy with 2.32 and 2.38 kg birth weight. We named them Akash Anthony Dass and Anya Rani Dass using their paternal grandparents’ names as middle names. ”

Mums and Stories thanks Vandana for sharing this lovely positive story with us and we wish the children and her family good health and happiness.

All photographs are subject to copyright

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