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Friday, July 18, 2014

A pilgrimage in search of baby luck!

After a day or two in Madurai, my mom slowly started this topic. She has tried to talk to me about this before, but in vain.  She used to say, shall we go to this temple (there are several temples in India where childless couple go and offer their prayers in a belief that their wish gets fulfilled) or pray to this God and promise to offer something so that our baby wish gets materialized. I used to tell her, pray to God, I have nothing against it. I do pray to God all the time, sometimes I ask for a baby and sometimes if it appears too irrational I just ask for the strength to bear whatever comes my way in this infertility journey; and God has always listened to my prayers, he has given me the strength to bear whatever comes my way! I would tell my mom, other than praying to God please do not get yourself involved in any other extreme religious practices! I knew for sure many irrational beliefs could bring lots of heartache and unnecessary expenditure. If the person is not emotionally strong there is a danger of falling into lifelong obsession; even spiritual obsession can be life and soul destroying! I used to insist, amma, instead of all that please help people around you in some way or other, and then God will be much happier with us. Actually I acquired this attitude from my dad.  I have never seen him going voluntarily to any temple. I know he prays to God, I know that he believes in a super power but unfortunately I never had a chance to know what his definition of ‘God’ is! He vehemently opposed superstitious beliefs. Without looking for auspicious dates, without giving our life’s decision to any astrologer or God man’s hand we lived such a happy, peaceful and fulfilling life devoid of irrational fears!

But this time the situation was much different. Our elders were in a state of disbelief and shock. We were too, but we had our own coping mechanisms. We spent our time learning why things went wrong; we were able to satisfy our mind with scientific explanations; we are young and had lot more things to do which could divert our mind from what happened – our work, friends, entertainment etc. But my mom and Rajender’s parents had only one coping mechanism – God and the beliefs related to Him! Rajender’s mom gave our birth dates to a nearby village priest and asked whether something is wrong with our horoscopes, the priest said, might be there is ‘sarpadhosha’ (which can be translated into English as ‘serpent’s curse’) and if you go to temples where snake is worshiped and perform ‘pujas’(worship),  everything will be well from now. At the same time, my mom’s brother was insisting that we visit a temple in Kerala called ‘Mannarasala’, which is coincidentally a temple where serpents are worshiped too. When our parents brought forth their wishes to us, I told Rajender, let us do it this time. They feel so scared and insecure by whatever happened. We are also thinking of traveling somewhere and our greatest wish is to take our parents along with us to some tourist destinations. We were out of our country for almost 10 years. Once in a couple of years we could manage to come to India for a period of only a month or so. That short time was not enough to take our parents with us for some holiday. This is a great chance to make our wish come true too, so let us do it. 

We decided to split our pilgrimage into two parts: one with my mom and uncle and the other with Rajender’s parents. With my mom we planned to go to Kerala and on the way back we decided to visit ‘Munar’, which is a very beautiful hill station. With Rajender’s parents we decided to go to Tirupathi and Kalahasthi (kala=snake, hasthi=elephant). Our trip to Kerala was arranged by my uncle, who is my mother’s sister’s husband and I have to talk here about my uncle and aunt and the ordeal they went through in life!

My aunt and uncle had two wonderful children – a boy and a girl! When the girl was around 16 years old, they lost her to blood cancer. That was a very painful death for their child. When they recovered slowly from what happened and tried to concentrate on their son, they lost him too to a car accident when traveling to Tirupathi! Their son was doing his MS in USA at that time. This horrible incident happened when he came for a month holiday to India. My aunt and uncle were in the same car but they escaped with minor injuries. They lost their son, who occupied the front seat of the car, to whiplash injury to his spinal cord. I cry when I write this. If the loss of my children at 5 months pregnancy could give me hell lot of pain and drive me mad, how to describe their pain? My aunt would say, ‘in the accident my spectacles broke and when they brought my son’s body to me, I couldn’t even see him properly’. Life is cruel, very cruel and unfair too! Theirs is a very happy family and their beautiful nest was shattered beyond belief within seconds. They say now, 'we thought we will end our life. But it is not that easy too’. To make the story short, my uncle turned all his attention to his business after this incident. He left the government job he had. He helped to educate many poor children who now look upon my uncle and aunt as their parents. He became the guardian for many in our family. He earns a lot now; helps many people; he gives job to many families and all this he achieved after his loss, after the age of 55! If you are someone who thinks infertility is the utmost pain and curse, how will you call what happened to them? They proved that what happened to them doesn’t matter but taking life in its stride and making it meaningful after all that happened to them is what that matters the most!

So one fine morning we left our home in a comfortable vehicle for the pilgrimage. My uncle and aunt were coming out of their nest after 10 years. We were so happy that it is happening because of us. My uncle likes Rajender so much - he sees his son in him. That is the beauty of my husband’s nature, people fall in love with him in the first meeting. His good nature reflects in his face, and the way he is humble, caring and respectful will touch even the most hard-hearted person. Yes, of course I am proud of him! Even my family loves him more than they love me, including my mom!

When we entered from Tamil Nadu to Kerala, I felt I am in ‘God’s own country’! Kerala is such a beautiful and fertile state, while most regions in Tamil Nadu is dry. My mom actually grew up and had her education in Kerala. She was so happy to visit Kerala again. We actually went to the place where she lived with her parents. It is called ‘Alappuzha’. I was born there. I got to see the house where my grandparents lived. After 35 years it is still there unaltered but somebody else lives there now. The most beautiful happening is that, my mom got to meet her friends after 35 years (with whom she had no contacts at all!) The happiness they shared when they met each other was soulful. I had a great satisfaction that the trip has served its purpose. When my mom used to talk about her friends with a twinkle in her eyes, I used to wonder, will they ever be able to meet again. But now she has contact with almost all her friends.

We first went to ‘Mannarasala’ temple. It is in ‘Alappuzha’ district. My mother’s brother who is now more than 70 years of age guided us throughout the journey. He is the one who is very eager to make us visit the temple. I could see his happiness and enthusiasm even at that age. If you want to know more about ‘Mannarasala’ please visit this link: is a beautiful temple situated in a forest area. There were statues of serpents everywhere. We were asked to buy a metal snake figure and a small cylindrical wood (called ‘uruli’) along with some other items  for worship. After the ‘puja’ is over we were directed to a very old woman priest. She sat inside a small room and via the window of that room our details including our name and birth dates were given to her. They said that she will write our name on the cylindrical wood and will pray for us to give us our generation to ‘Nagaraja’ (Serpent Gods). Once we have our baby, we must go with our baby to the temple and give the receipt they have given us. With that they will identify the cylindrical wood with our name on it and will remove it or change its position. This is what we were told and this is what we did. They also asked us to pray in this way to the serpent God there, ‘if we or our ancestors have done any harm to you or your generations please forgive us and give us our baby!’ Tears were running down my cheeks when I said this, at that moment my rational brain has taken a back step. We prayed; we did whatever was told to us whole-heartedly and with utmost respect (atleast Rajender did so!) . I could see so many women who came to offer their prayers; I saw so many women who came with their beautiful babies to offer their thanks and I felt I will also have my baby! We were given some holy ash and were asked to have it on our forehead every day after taking bath. We did follow it as much as we could. This article in Dr. Malpani’s blog will be very interesting and informative too:

Then from there we travelled to several temples. We went to Trivandrum too. We got a chance to visit ‘Sree Padmanabhaswany Temple’, which is situated in Trivandrum.  That whole day we were travelling and visiting temples. It was a great experience. My mind was so calm and fearless. I enjoyed thoroughly the nature’s beauty what Kerala offered us and the food was amazing. Whenever we need to enter a temple we have to remove our sandals and walk bare footed. My feet were getting natural acupuncture. At some places there were stones, at some places there was sand, and in some places there was grass and all those created different sensations on my bare foot.  When the stones pricked, it was a bearable pain, the sand tickled my feet, and grass beds were very soothing. The temperature varied too: some places were hot, some were cool, some wet! My feet enjoyed so many different sensations at a time and I just loved it! When evening came, we went to the beach and when I stood with my bare feet in sea water, I felt worriless and peaceful. I really thought, ‘Do someone has a beautiful life than me? In the past few months, I have tasted so many different emotions in life – happiness (after conception of twins), fear and excitement (during pregnancy), horrible emotional pain (when I lost my children), insecurity (when we decided to get back to India), happiness and content (when we got to see our parents and spend time with them), peacefulness, joy, renewed faith and hope (when we had this trip) and lots of love! I really thanked God for my life; I thought I wouldn’t exchange my beautiful life with anyone else in this world and for anything!’ At the same moment, a fear struck me too; I silently prayed standing in the beach that I should never ever face the ordeal which I went through (losing my twins)’

Did God listen to my prayers?

When we came home after the beautiful Kerala trip, the surrogacy agreement papers were waiting for us. We signed it and sent it back. Within few weeks after that, embryo transfer was scheduled for Rita. My two embryos which were frozen on day 3, which were grown to day 5 (during previous FET cycle where I conceived my twins) and refrozen again, were thawed. Did those embryos survive the thaw? Were those embryos successfully transferred to Rita’s womb? Remember, those little embies were my last chance to have my genetic baby, as per our decision!

1 comment:

  1. Dear Manju, I believed more on God. Even we did pooja to Snake god on Papanasam temple . After we finish doing the pooja while coming out, a priest came to us and said " Visit Rameshwaram then you will get a baby" . I felt very emotional and tears came into my eyes.was wondering how he knows abt our problem and believed he was send by god as messenger. So went to Rameshwaram. If possible visit there too da.
    Sorry to hear abt ur aunty uncle story, tears came into my eyes. When I lost my first baby at 12 weeks I couldnt come out of that pain for 1year. Even still I feel bad I lost her. But thinking abt their situation couldnt even imagine how much they would have been missing their kids. My prayers for them.

    Gud luck with ur journey :-)


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