In honor of Infertility Awareness Week, I wanted to raise up this topic that most don't really talk about. I know that every woman's story is different and so are their experiences. I recently reached out to a few women to ask if they'd share their stories, experiences, and hardships of carrying the weight of infertility while also being Hmong. If you continue reading, your heart will break to hear what this woman's gone through. No one has ever prepared a woman to go through infertility and being of Hmong descent, it makes it so much harder.
"Being a Hmong nyab is already stressful but when I’m also having issues with infertility, it makes me feel like a failure to myself as a woman and to my husband. In the Hmong culture, they expect the daughter in law to continue the generation by having kids. My first year of marriage, my mother-in-law and all the other women of the family already started asking when I was going to have a child. Second-year rolls around, still nothing. They still ask but now also gossip behind my back.
I was a bigger lady so I ate healthily and worked out a lot. I lost a good 20+ lbs. I got Hmong herbs to drink and to cook with eggs and also got a tummy massage too. All that yet still no baby. During the 4th year into the marriage, I decided to seek an Obgyn to see if there was anything wrong with me.
In the Hmong culture, they tend to blame the ladies first. I had lots of appointments and lots of labs to be drawn. It turned out I had polyps in my uterus which needed to be removed and I also had PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome). PCOS doesn't make me sterile but it means I’ll have a longer and harder time to have a kid but doesn’t necessarily mean I won’t. I had my polyps removed, yet still no luck. I had an HSG exam to check my tubes, but I was also normal. At this point, my medical bills were adding up. My husband also got himself tested and he checked out too. I was stressed out.
Whenever I show up at gatherings, all the women will ask:
“Any kids yet?”
“You guys have been married so long, go see a doctor.”
“You're not getting younger, hurry and have some kids.”
“Have kids so your parents and in-laws can see them before they leave this world.” “
If you don't have kids who're going to take care of you when you get old? Who’s going to bury you” etc....
I was depressed. All these medical debts and no luck. Now all the questions every single time. I slowly distanced myself and stop going to gatherings. Even though I know my in-law's side is talking about me not being a good nyab by showing up to help etc. How can I come when everyone lines up asking the same thing? It hurts. I don’t need to be reminded. But yet they always remind you that you failed as a wife and daughter-in-law.
What’s worse was that my own mother even suggested me to let my husband married a second wife. She can stay home and my husband and I can just work and provide for whatever she'd need or want. At this time, I had a close friend who was recently divorced with kids, so my mother said to let him marry her. We are friends too so it'd be easier and plus she had kids so it meant she was fertile. It shattered my heart to a million pieces. Even my own mother saw me as a failure.
Everywhere I went, it made me ashamed to say "I’m married," because this is always the questions: “Are you married or single? How long have you’ve been married? Any kids? No kids? Why not? Have you’ve tried Hmong herbs? Have you’ve got tummy massage or seen a dr? What did the doctor say?”
Some days I feel so depressed. I silently cry myself to sleep or on my way to work and even in my dreams. We grew up learning that a woman with a period will conceive a child. We weren’t taught that there are some who will struggle with infertility, hormones, thyroid, PCOS, and many other difficulties. The Hmong don’t understand what PCOS is nor infertility.
I feel treated as an object. If it works cool, if it doesn’t, just buy a new one. They will never ask how am I holding up going through all of this, or if I need someone they are there. No! They won’t tell you that. They will keep suggesting all sorts of herbs and so on.
What they don’t know is that sometimes it's so hard that I began to lie to them and became good at it. “ Oh we’re not ready yet," " We still want to travel first," "We” ll think about it someday but not right now.” It's depressing and exhausting to be a Hmong nyab with infertility issues. If they would be a bit more understanding and put themselves in my shoes. Infertility hurts."
Myself and my husband had been trying to get pregnant for 18 months before I was referred to Priest Babaka fertility solution. We had no definite diagnosis of what was wrong and had become very frustrated. In November 2017 I was given a thorough reproductive health work up, I found out I had low progesterone, thyroid issues and a stomach issue which was affecting my ability to get pregant. This was a very thorough process involving dietary, hormonal and physical investigations and started the recommended treatments in Feb 16 2018 by Priest Babaka. I was pregnant by april 17. I had a baby boy in march 2019. I was carefully monitored and Priest Babaka was always available for me. I can recommend Priest Babaka more highly so much so we are hoping to start trying for a second baby under his guidance. email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook at priest.babaka
I got married at 18 and got pregnant back to back at 19 and 20. My husband and I decided to wait a few years since these two were so close. We said we would “wait” but in essence, we really didn’t use any sort of protection or birth control. Just abstinence. Four years later we started actively trying again and like some of the comments I read here, I was sure that I would easily conceive again. But it took us 12 years; 4 years of just letting it happen naturally, and 8 years of fertility treatments. I tried the Hmong herbs once and felt my whole body changed. It totally freaked me out because that was only after one dose! I didn’t take anymore Hmong herbs after that. Finally the specialist told me to give my body a break from all the medications and just try to change my lifestyle. Eat right, exercise, manage stress level. So I started exercising, lost about 10 pounds, started a new job…and I was pregnant within 4 months. And I had two more pregnancies after that, back to back. Now I have a 4, 3, and 2 year old to run after and I am 37 years old! My husband is 48. For those who have PCOS, ask if the doctor is willing to prescribe you Metformin. It will also help you get pregnant as it balances the hormones.
My sister in law and my brother were married 25 years before she finally conceived. She was 43. So don’t lose hope. People say don’t think about it but it becomes an obsession so you can’t take your mind off of it. Just have faith and hope. It might happen when you least expect it.
As you get older, the chances of being pregnant gets harder. My wife and I waited until we were in our late 20s. Im 5 years older than her. We have our first after 3 yrs of trying, she was 28 and i was 33. Then didnt happen again until 8 years later. Then our 3rd 3 years later. Both of us are in good health. Nothing wrong with either one of us and she regularly have monthly cycle. Sometimes it just don’t happen the way you want it. Age don’t wait for anyone. If you are young in your mid 20s and having hard time getting pregnant, possible could be due to something else. Stress, infertility, lack of exercise, diet..etc.. Would help to get it check out and get help rather than being in denial. When still young, its a lot easier to get pregnant. Older folks always asked us about kids, not because they are being mean or anal about things or like to gossip about it. Its because its good to have a family. We just openly tell them we try but its not happening, they offer medicine etc to help. But since we are raised in the US, we preferred medical help if we needed. At one point we though about invitro then when we least expected it, it happen. From experienced, what I learn is that, you need to be a good health, need eat properly, exercise daily, etc. All the times we tried that didn’t happen, we were just couch potatoes lol. I started exercising regularly and less than a year it happen.. same happen for our 3rd as well. Having a healthy life style and stress free plays a role in it as well. For those who have irregular period, might be harder. Im not much of a traditional spiritual person so I don’t believe any of the spiritual stuff will help like jingle bells, messages etc and such. Egg need to drop, sperm need to reach egg in time.. simple science. All that spiritual stuff don’t help play a role in it. The women is always the first to be blamed, but it takes 2 to make a baby. The men also need to be healthy as well. Otherwise all his soldiers are too weak to reach the egg even though its there. As men gets older the soldiers gets weaker and like every war, if u send in bunches of old and weak soldiers, most likely they will die out too quick before even reaching the prize. My 2 cents is, if you want to have kids, just have them while you are still in your early 20s.. don’t wait until you are almost 30 to try.. you may be not be able to have one. We have friends who are in the mid 30s and just starting to want kids, they are not having any success.. even with invitro. sometimes some folks trade their own freedom for having to deal with kids at early age. but the feeling of not being able to have one as time tick by quickly is even worse. So if you are reading this and still young and want kids, get it done…
I suffered from unexplained infertility & miscarriages for 7 years before conceiving my son through artificial insemination. There was a period of time when I thought I would never have a baby and experienced a lot of the same comments from other ladies posting on here, even my own mother blaming me for my own miscarriages. But, I realize that most people do mean well with their uninvited advice and suggestions and don’t really know what to say in difficult circumstances. I’ve learned it does me no good to harbor resentment towards ignorant comments. Also, fertility research is still very much in its infancy stage compared to so many other medical issues, there is a lack of knowledge in general among all communities. To the sisters on here struggling, find a good support system, ignore the ignorant comments, get to know your body. I have been to the same obgyn/fertility clinic for 15 years, I learned so much about my body and my doctor was amazing at putting together a plan for me that I understood. Good luck to everyone.
I’m having infertility issues as a Hmong male.
I vouch for this cultural behavior. This isn’t a female issue, but it definitely always starts and usually ends this way. For that, I want to apologize on behalf of all of the Hmong community.
Just so you know, it’s actually refreshing for me to see the look on those elder folks when they start asking those same questions to my wife and I because I have no shame in understanding and owning my own infertility issues. “Has your wife tried this, that? Oh, how about this over here?” is always met with a smile and lots of truth, “Through lots of medical treatments, I’m letting you all know, I’m the issue here”. And the other honest truth here is that they don’t give me the same shit I see them giving the females. It’s almost as if their entire attitude changes to, “Oh, okay, keep trying then.”
I wish nothing but the best for all of you. Keep your spirits high as having children isn’t the pinnacle of everyone’s life. Your life is what you make of it, with or without children. We each have our own purpose here and if yours was to mentor instead of mother, go that route instead.