It will all be ok in the end… If it’s not okay, it’s not the end
What do you want to be when you grow up? I wanted to be a mum!! Not a teacher, or a vet, or a zoo keeper… i wanted to be a mum.
I always had painful periods, i would miss school or work, unable to get out of bed. I would be in so much pain i would be physically ill. I had a few cysts when I was 15 or 16 years old, doctors said that i was just prone to them, and that i had heavier periods than others. Take some nurofen, stay in bed, you will be ok.
At around 19 years old, i had enough. Other girls didn’t spend 5 or 6 days in bed a month!! Having their period didn’t mean they couldn’t leave the house.. this wasn’t normal. So i went back to the gynaecologist. He told me it wasn’t normal, so he did a laparoscopy, and i was diagnosed with endometriosis. He told me i might have problems trying to have a baby, but not to worry. Some women have endometriosis and it doesn’t affect them having babies. I was young, i didn’t worry.. i wasn’t planning on having a family now, no way. I would have a baby when i was “old” (in my mid 20s – old haha). So i carried on, knowing now that at least there was a reason for the pain every month and the heavy periods, that it was the endometriosis.. i was ok, i just had this condition.
25 years old, had enough, AGAIN. It seemed to be getting worse, now my period would be anywhere from 7-9 days long. And VERY painful. Then it seemed i was getting my period every 2 weeks!! That isn’t right… so i went back to the doctor. More tests, more surgery.. “You have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) as well as the endometriosis, which has gotten worse” the doctor said, “and you may have problems trying to conceive, but we wont know until you start trying.. and don’t worry, its common.. lots of women have babies with PCOS and/or endometrosis.”
Least you have an excuse for the painful periods now, i thought, and the extra weight gain, the more frequent than usual waxing, and the out of control PMS… there is nothing that can be done, but don’t worry, you want to be a mum, you will have kids.
At 26 my boyfriend of 10 years (high school sweethearts, aww) proposed. We were going to get married!! And that meant, i was going to be a MUM!! FINALLY!! I always wanted to be a mum. I think i was most excited about that, my life long dream, being a mum.. at the back of my head there was a little voice telling me, its not going to be easy for you… i told my fiance that, and he said “nooooo, we going to have family!! You always wanted to be a mum, you will be a wonderful mum.” I was.
So i went back to the doctor, we talked about stopping my contraception. We wanted to make sure all my medication was out of my system, so that when i got married we can start trying for a baby. I was going to have a honeymoon baby, no time to spare!!!! Im going to be a mum, i want 3 or 4 kids (at least!!).
About 6 months before we got married, i couldn’t wait. We were going to get married… so lets start trying now. No harm, we been together 11 years now… so we did. Nothing happened. Thats ok, we getting married, its just nerves, its the pill still in my system. We are going to get married, and i am going to get pregnant on my honeymoon, and i am going to be a mum. I am going to be such a wonderful mum too!!!
Fast forward… I am now 31 years old, going on 32 and i am not a mum. I have my angel babies, that i carry it my heart. But no baby to carry in my arms. We have been trying to conceive a baby for 3 years. I am infertile. My PCOS means I do not ovulate, at all. So an egg is never released for the sperm to fertilise. My eggs turn to cysts, they are painful, sometimes they have to be removed with surgery. For years i have been doing fertility treatment, IVF, to help conceive my baby… i inject myself daily into my stomach with hormones that help me to ovulate, and to make “good eggs” to be fertilised. I have had countless surgeries, invasive and embarrassing procedures and exams. I go to see my doctor every 3 days.. and my IVF doctor is located in a maternity hospital… surrounded by new mums, babies, happy families, flowers and visitors. Its a happy place, where babies come into the world… i go because i cannot have a baby. I am infertile, barren.
Its hard, it hurts. Every month i grieve the loss of my child, my baby. I grieve the loss of presumed future, my hopes of being a mum, my aspirations. And every month i try again. I grasp for hope, that this month, this time, I am going to hear those magical words… “congratulations, you are having a baby!!!” but instead i hear “i’m sorry”.
The hormones are horrible. The injections sting, sometimes i bleed. My stomach is a mine field of bruises and puncture marks that are permanently tattooed on my skin. I have put on a lot of weight and i feel sick constantly. I don’t sleep more than 4-5 hours per night, and when i do, i have nightmares. And i over heat, i am always hot. My emotions are off the charts… its like having horrible PMS x 100… my husband walks on eggshells. Then there are the progesterone injections, the second injection i give myself, towards the end of the month, a needle i inject into my thigh.. it hurts. This injection mimics pregnancy symptoms, right down to the morning sickness, swollen breasts AND it makes home pregnancy tests positive.
An insight into infertility…
Your heart skips a beat. Those two lines come up… it says you are pregnant. “Am i? Could it be?” you ask yourself, even though you know its the injections… but maybe its not.. maybe you REALLY are pregnant… maybe, just maybe, it worked!! You call your doctor, he says to come in for a blood test… you get a little spark of hope… maybe you are pregnant… you wait… you hope… you dream. The phone rings, its your doctor… “i’m sorry”
You shatter inside. You get so angry at yourself!! Why did you get your hopes up? You knew it was the injection… but… you were SURE this time. You were so sure, this time it was different.. you felt different. You were dreaming of throwing those needles in the bin!! Of no more doctors exams, ultrasounds, blood tests, surgeries, hospital stays… of getting to call your parents, of telling them they were going to be grandparents!! BUT you’re not pregnant, you can’t throw away the injections, you need them. Because you got to do this ALL again.. another month… another month… more injections, more hospital, more embarrassment, more heartbreak.
And then your phone rings… its your friend… she has some news!! She is having a baby!! She doesn’t know how it happened, they weren’t trying… but shes pregnant!! She feels so sick.. its horrible being pregnant. I should be lucky i cant have kids and don’t have to go through it.. im lucky. And you try so hard to be a good friend, you try to not burst into tears and scream ITS NOT FAIR. You want to be happy for her!!! She’s having a baby!! Shes going to have a baby shower, and her belly is going to get big, and she’s going to have a nursery.. and she shows you ultrasound photos, and tells you about all the horrible things that happen when you are pregnant… how sick you feel.. that you can’t imagine what that is like. You tell yourself that you are a horrible friend for being jealous, that you are selfish and you aren’t being supportive. But its not fair… you want to be a mum, that was supposed to be you. Your baby shower, your nursery, your ultrasound photos..
Suddenly the whole world is pregnant… there are babies EVERYWHERE. Families, prams, baby shops.. they all popped up over night. TV commercials are all about nappies and prenatal vitamins.. all the shows you watch, someone is pregnant.. they are glowing.. they are holding their newborn baby in their arms while soft music plays in the background and they are happy!!
Your social media explodes with photos of babies.. of captions about how their lives are complete now that they are a mum. How they have never felt a love like this. There are baby bumps, and complaints about being tired and pregnancy symptoms.. countdowns of how many weeks to go… there are mums complaining about their children, how they have done something naughty, how hard it is being a mum.. joking about if anyone wants them…
You get angry, you get jealous. Babies are a miracle, they are a blessing!! How can you complain? ITS NOT FAIR!! And you want to post baby photos, you want to do exactly what they are doing.. you want it so bad.
You aren’t part of the club anymore… all of your friends have babies, some of them have had two or three, all within the space you have been trying. You cant join in the conversation, you don’t belong.. you cant share stories and advice.. youre not a mum, you don’t understand.
You watch your husband with your friends babies.. you see the way he looks at them. You heart aches when you see him holding them. You are his wife, you are supposed to give him a baby!!!!! He doesn’t say anything, he has been so supportive… but you see the hurt, you see the longing. He isn’t part of the dad club either… but he can be… he has nothing wrong, its ALL your fault… YOU cant give him a baby.
Infertility IS HARD. It hurts. Its painful and it changes your life. It is ALWAYS on your mind and impacts on every aspect of your life. It’s a full time job, it’s exhausting and an emotional roller coaster. But It is NOTHING to be ashamed of. It is NOT your fault. You are still a woman, you still have worth. It is an invisible illness.
We are all a little broken and damaged, and we aren’t quite fixed yet.
A lot of us have gone through hell, but you know what? We came back. We came back stronger.
You know why?
Because we are WARRIORS, and warriors fight!!
1 in 10 people suffer from infertility… there is a chance there is someone you know who is unable to have a child. Who is going through all or some of this every day. It might be someone very close to you, it might be you.
What NOT to do..
DO NOT tell them to relax and they will get pregnant. Relaxing will not give someone a baby.
DO NOT tell them stories about a friend of a friend who did this or that… that is their story.. everyone is different, it will not soothe or give them hope. It just makes them frustrated.
DO NOT say you can “just adopt”… adoption is a personal choice, and it is not black and white. There is no baby shop where you can pop in and purchase a baby.
DO NOT offer your child instead
DO NOT complain about your own children, about how horrible it is being a mother, OR about your own pregnancy. Keep those conversations for your other friends.
DO NOT ask when someone is going to start trying for a baby, they might be already, they may be struggling with infertility. This question can be very painful, do not ask, unless you are willing to be there to listen in case the answer is that they cant.
DO NOT hide your pregnancy from them or not tell them you are pregnant… this hurts more. and can make them feel even MORE isolated then they already feel.
So what CAN you do to help? Listen. Be a shoulder to cry on. You don’t need to offer advice. Chances are, they have tried it. They have read all the books, searched google for hours. They have stood upside down on their heads, and taken all the herbal remedies. They have talked to the doctors, and had the tests. They know. But sometimes they just need to talk, to cry. And all you need to say is “i am sorry you are going through this, i am here for you”.
Understand that there will be days when they don’t feel like doing anything, or going anywhere. It’s exhausting. Plans might need to be cancelled last minute due to a sudden sickness or anxiety. Understand that they might not feel comfortable attending your baby shower, and offer an “out”. Do not exclude them or not invite them though!! Please don’t make the decision for them. Baby showers, kids birthdays and special occasions are very hard. Mothers Day is horrible.
Infertility can make you feel so alone and isolated, and sometimes all you need is a friendly smile, and a reminder that you are not invisible. That you still matter, and that you haven’t been forgotten.
I hope my story gives some inspiration and insight for people who may be going through something similar. And to raise awareness to others about how hard infertility can be. We need to break the silence. Infertility is not a bad word, it is ok to talk about it.
I am a mum, i have angel babies.. babies that were too special for this earth. I’ve had countless operations to remove cysts and legions. My period leaves me in agony, unable to get out of bed or carry out the most basic of tasks, and still comes every 2-3 weeks. Every day i hope.. i still dream… i wonder if our baby will have brown eyes like me, or green eyes like their dad… i dream of sleepless nights, of comforting my child in my arms, of hearing them cry. Of watching them explore. Their first steps, their first words… of hearing them say “mummy”… i dream. AND i grieve.. every month and every day. I cry and i grieve and i keep trying.
And i crochet, and i smile 🙂
Love Nat xxx