It’s slowly creeping towards the 9 month mark of the surgery that unveiled my endometriosis. As it’s pissing down, and I always gain clarity in the rain, I got to thinking – if I had have fallen pregnant when I wanted to I’d have a child by now. While the last 9 months haven’t changed the way I feel about pregnancy and children it did gift me with a few things. One of them being resilience..resilience with a veneer of acceptance. 9 months ago if any one mentioned anything about pregnancy..fertility..adoption..even sex..I wasn’t buying what they were selling. Fast forward to right now and my health is no better..in fact it’s significantly worse. I’m currently prepping for my second surgery where I’ll officially lose my second tube. My Dr held off removing the second so I had some time to process and recharge and I thank him endlessly for that. But in the last 9 months I’ve been lovingly pushed into learning a few home truths that I wouldn’t have learnt otherwise.
These are a few things infertility forced me to do..
1. Get to know Brad
I know it sounds a bit ludicrous that I would need any more time to become familiar with my partner but I can confidently say that our lives without the child we thought we might have forced us to genuinely give a shit about each other. Not just going through the motions and performing the simple pleasantries and routines we used to. We have been made to talk more, listen openly and love more tenderly than we did before. When we first discussed children it would have been the essence of who we were as a couple and now we’re working on a child being the cherry on top of something already great. Now we have a friendship – he is one of my truest, closest friends. It’s nice feeling this way about each other after all this time.
2. Prioritise happiness
When I was trying to have a baby a year ago I was very lost-in myself and in life. In every sense of the word. This time has given me the ability to be a little selfish. To think “what do I need to do to make me happy” and then go after exactly that with open arms. Now that I’m about to begin postgraduate studies where my world will revolve around children I needed the last 9 months to come to terms with the reality that I may work with children but have none of my own. I’m also about 4 and half months away from getting married which felt too far out of reach this time last year.
3. Get a little stronger
I was recovering in bed feeling particularly sorry for myself and I wondered if I would ever be ‘okay’ again. Would I ever hold a newborn without feeling sad? Would I be able to be around pregnant women? Would I sink into a depression every time someone told me they were having a baby? Pain kicked my ass and forced me to be far stronger than the person crying in bed 9 months ago. I will always feel cheated by the fact that infertility takes away some of the power you have over your own body – you still ultimately control what happens to you..you just have fewer options and a shorter leash. As more and more women around me have their babies I thank the last 9 months for the strength I’ve been gifted. I had to quickly learn that my life is not theirs nor is my pain theirs. I now feel I have enough gumption to be the support they would like me to be and I don’t fall apart from exhaustion doing it. I think it largely comes back to having a good home team..the cherry on top scenario.
4. Think logically
Last week my doctor sat me down and told me after my next surgery I have a six month window of success with IVF before my endo causes my odds to plummet. I should have had my second surgery in March but I opted out – I wasn’t ready. Last week in my exhausted state after a terrible few months of pain I said “f*ck it” – let’s do it now. Because of this rigid window of success my Dr asked if we could start looking into IVF in August and for the first time I genuinely thought no deal Andrew- I just want to get married. Doing his job he asked me to sleep on it and discuss it with Brad. Knowing Brad met me thinking I would pop out kids like a PEZ dispenser I was honestly nervous to talk it over with him. Would we be on either side of the fence wanting different things? Because that would be the end of that. Like I’ve said before..it’s so easy to forget how lucky we are that we’ve found our person but this was just one of those moments I was gently reminded…and as for the outcome we’re still getting married. The logical epiphany I’m talking about came from thinking “do I desperately need a child right now?” “Am I confident and stable enough to say a child would be a cherry on top tomorrow?”. When I realized the answer to these questions was no and that what I was truly mourning was the fact that I felt out of control with my own body I made peace with my decision to wait.I felt then and still feel that I no longer get the freedom to decide when I have kids and it’s now on a medical time line. In not being ready to go through IVF I knowingly took the risk that I’m missing my window for ever having kids and perhaps the only reason I’m comfortable with the decision was that it was ours and no one elses.
5. Punish myself less
I can say, with quite a lot of shame and embarrassment, that I’ve never truly been in love with my life. I get itchy feet and I’m always looking for a way out of things I don’t want to do. I think that will always be me. I’m a bit flimsy and wayward and dreamy. I hate shackles and I loathe routine – which are the same thing in my eyes. But in the last 9 months I realized I need to love myself and my life a lot more. That doesn’t necessarily mean I have to feel everything is perfect, Rome wasn’t built in a day apparently, but I simply mean I need to find joy in every day. This could be having a meal with a friend, falling in love with a new band, putting on clean pjs, listening to a really good album or cooking something delicious. I very easily fell into the trap of feeling doom and gloom because I couldn’t get what I want. As well as falling into the trap of hating myself because of it. What a waste of time that was. What becomes quite poignant as we grow older is that our time here isn’t promised. Nothing is. The world owes us nothing. And realizing that, I was sick of wasting my time disliking myself and my life.
6.Maintain my garden
Now I don’t mean gardening in the literal sense. And I’m not talking about pubes either you sickos.I mean nurturing the right relationships and pruning the not so great ones. Over time I have learnt to put on my big girl pants and water the right flowers. These are the ones that AREN’T conditional and let you be exactly what you need to be and as you do the 180 degree turn you were always going to do they are there patiently waiting once you do. If your circle decreases in size and people distance themselves because your paths have become too dissimilar and unfamiliar it might just be necessary pruning of the garden. The good ones will stick around- but you need to remember to water them. They can’t be friends with a pathetic, wilted, ‘feel sorry for me’ flower all the time. If through pain you think you’ve lost your ability to empathize and listen then your garden will unfortunately become a little bare. Now I put my hand up to say I was this flower..I probably needed to be. A time where I wasn’t on my A game a lot of the time and rather than being a good friend I would have preferred to be alone. But staying like this is shitty in the game of maintaining your relationships…even the strong ones. So ultimately I’ve learnt in order to keep the good ones sometimes you just need to get up, dust yourself off and try a little harder. This also goes for your significant others- the truly wonderful friendships/relationships are ones that allow you to be organically you while they are organically them. A friend going through the highest high of their life while you’re going through the lowest low needs to be recognized and celebrated…just as you need to be recognized and squeezed a little tighter.
7. Understand I can’t keep everyone onside
It is not news to every one that some things that unexpectedly pop up in life change you so profoundly that you never quite return to your original self completely intact. This is true of pain and I admit that pain did change me and caused me to rearrange. Some people that were once in my circle perhaps get tired of hearing me talk about what is upsetting and why. Perhaps some people see another blog pop up..roll their eyes and think “again..really?”. And what I’ve learnt is that it’s actually okay. Maybe these are the relationships that act as fillers in that garden I was pissing on about and they are about ready to expire. Not every relationship stays intact through change . Time has taught me not to be gloomy 24/7 over what I cannot change- because we don’t have time for it but also not to censor myself to make everyone else a little more comfy. There’s just no way. So be the glorious uncensored you and let the chips fall where they may.
After all of this I admit I haven’t perfected the art of living bigger. I still struggle. Like all humans I crave the closeness and connection that comes with being a part of something which as a 24 year old infertile woman is sometimes hard to feel. But what time has also shown me is that if you open your eyes everyone is going through something that is changing them. Shaping them. Causing them to wonder how everyone else is functioning when they feel stuck in their grief or in their haze. So I suppose we all need to be kinder to each other and listen more closely. The road blocks connect us as humans- whatever shape they take.