I’m writing this from 2019, at a point in this journey where you are learning to accept the fact you are infertile. Kind of. The last 4, nearly 5, years have been hard work, but you’re finally coming out the other side. You’re still without child, but you are married to a man who worships the ground you walk on.
You always knew being a Mum would be a struggle. Remember those days when your periods would really hurt, before they stopped altogether? Remember Mum saying how she was told she would struggle to have children and you had a feeling, unexplainably, that you would too? Your gut feeling was right. The good news is that your periods return; the bad news is they hurt like a bitch. You’ll have a trip to A&E because they think you’re having an ectopic pregnancy and a few days off work because you physically can’t move, so stock up on Naproxen at any given opportunity because it will soon become your best friend.
You’ll start trying to conceive and it won’t happen. A few tips:
1. Those negative tests you throw in the bin, don’t get them out again a few hours later. The result won’t have changed and you’re only tormenting yourself.
2. Laying with your legs in the air for 20 minutes after you’ve ‘done the deed‘ does nothing except make all the blood from your legs disappear and give you pins and needles.
3. Don’t believe every late period is a sign you’re pregnant. It’s not. Your periods are always late and you’re never pregnant.
4. Don’t force yourself to drink nettle tea. You don’t like it and it doesn’t work.
5. Stop looking at baby clothes. You won’t listen and you’ll do it anyway, but as soon as you do you’ll know why I’m saying don’t. Crying during an episode of Coronation Street when it’s not sad is hard to explain.
In 2018 everything will change. You’ll get married (that small intimate wedding you want will be the total opposite, you’ll have the best day of your life with 150 people and you will look amazing), but then you’ll find out your Fallopian tubes are blocked after a laparoscopy. You’ll then go on to have them removed. Don’t be scared about going under general anaesthetic, you have a great time. Don’t think you’re stronger than you are either, take the time to recover and don’t try to lift laminate flooring 2 days post-op; everyone tells you ‘I told you so’ and we know how much you hate that.
Following your diagnosis you’ll be bitter. You’ll be angry and you’ll feel a level of self loathing that you’ve never felt before. You know those times you’ve had too much to drink and you’ve said things you shouldn’t have? That feeling of self loathing when you wake up and realise what a mess you’ve made? You’ll feel worse than that because you can’t control this. For the record, those drunken mistakes don’t stop – but you do get better at knowing your limit. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nothing you did caused this; you ask the nurse about 50,000 times.
You’ll start to resent everyone and everything relating to babies. You’ll wake up from your operation and the first thing you’ll see when you get your phone out is a photo of someone’s baby who was born on the same day. You’ll then feel like your constantly surrounded by pregnancy announcements, pregnant women and newborn babies. You will look in the mirror and you will see a different woman – you will see me and not you. You’ll feel for a while like you’ve lost yourself and then you’ll realise it’s the opposite; you’ve found yourself. You’ll appreciate what you have so much more. You’re still learning to love your body, the post-op lbs (stones) and scars, to feel like it’s not useless, but you’re getting there.
My dear, you will learn so much. We both know you’re a feisty one with a mouth that runs a mile a second. You’ll learn when it’s worth it. You’ll realise who your real friends are; your best friends support you better than you can imagine and some you thought were friends you will soon realise don’t deserve the label. It hurts but you will be so much better off for it. You’ll meet people you would have never met had this not happened. You’ll be inspired and you’ll be comforted. You’ll have people push you to your limit, people not be so kind, but you’ll know what matters and you’ll handle it so calmly. You have strangers offering you support and you have no idea how much strength you find, how many people you provide support to without even realising you’re doing it. You will be so proud of who you are, I promise you. You’ll stop smoking too; for good. Finally.
Go easy on your husband. You’ll cry and shout that he doesn’t understand and you’re right; he doesn’t. He doesn’t feel the same longing to be pregnant, he isn’t the ‘problem’, he doesn’t feel the same sense of grief that you do. He does feel your pain. He tries to understand and he supports you like no other. You push him to the limit but girl, you’re lucky to have him. He will hold you and you will always be safe to scream and shout with him. He is your biggest supporter and don’t ever forget that. You remember how at university when you were sad, Olivia and Helen would stroke your hair and tell you that you were a princess? He does it too.
I’d love to tell you that you’re definitely going to have a baby, to tell you I’m writing this post IVF with a baby in your arms, that it worked first time and you’ve got everything you ever wanted. I can’t lie. As I embark upon this new bridge to cross, the gamble that is IVF, I hope to be able to write to you soon and tell you it all worked out. This is the part where I wish a future me would write to present me. However, I know more now than I did when I were you. I know more about myself, my body, love, friendship and heartache than I ever have before and I am more prepared for this battle than I’ve ever been before.
You are strong.
You are brave.
You are a flipping warrior.
Love, Amber x