Tomorrow marks 365 days since I had my laparoscopy and found out I had two fully blocked Fallopian tubes. I truly cannot believe how quickly the last 12 months have gone; it seems like Christmas was only yesterday. When I realised on the 1st September that it had been almost a year since the day everything changed, I was gobsmacked. It had me feeling all kinds of weird; thinking about how much I had changed, my marriage had changed, how in the space of a year I had experienced every emotion going, from grief to relief, from jealousy and depression to positivity and love. In the 4.5 years of trying to conceive, the last 12 months have been the hardest.
When you are infertile, you have two options. In many ways, infertility is a case of fight or flight; you can either beat yourself up, become bitter, jealous and angry, or you can realise that this is your hand in life and you deal with it. You can grow, you can learn and you can flourish into a better person. In many cases it is normal to experience the first before taking the path of the second, but one thing for sure is that infertility teaches you an encyclopaedia full of lessons. In light of my year anniversary, I want to reflect on the lessons my own infertility has taught me.
1. My life is actually, pretty damn great.
My desire to be a mother is not a fleeting desire, it is not one that comes and goes as and when it pleases. My desire to be a mother has been deeply rooted in me for as long as I can remember. However, as determined as I am to make it happen, as strong as the feeling is that one day I will be a mother, my infertility has taught me to open my eyes to what I do have and just how wonderful my life really is. I have a husband who loves me incredibly, who would do anything in his power to make me happy. We have our own home with no worries, we have our two dogs who fill us with love every day, we are financially stable. I have an incredible family who have always provided for me, who have always supported my decisions. I have a beautiful marital family who I feel so lucky to be part of. I have the best friends a girl could ask for and for that I am forever grateful. Most girls would kill for friends as good as mine; the love I have for them is infinite. With or without a child, I know how I loved I am and I know that people have it so much worse than I. At the end of the day, your life is your reality and I don’t like the notion of “at least it’s not x y z”, because whatever is going on in your life, the emotions can only be compared to emotions you have felt. However, a very good friend of mine recently told me her Dad had got the all clear after having a tumour and all I was overjoyed for her and her family. There was part of me that felt so sad because I felt like I hadn’t been as good of a friend as I could have been throughout his treatment. I had been so wrapped up in my own grief that my friend took a back seat. I felt so selfish. Regardless of what I’m going through, I have realised just how much I truly have to be grateful for and how much of a blessing life really is.
2. I know more about the reproductive system than I care to admit.
After my second operation in March, I was taken to the City Care Centre following a 111 call due to intense pains where I’d had the operation. When explaining to the doctor what had gone on, what my operation was for and why I’d had it, he asked if I was from a medical background (I’m not) as he couldn’t believe how much I knew and how many “big words” I was throwing at him. I have had friends going through similar situations or experiencing pain in their stomachs send me messages asking if I ever had certain pains and what they might be. I get pains or twinges and I know exactly why they’re there and what it means for my cycle. I experience certain moods and I know when I’m ovulating, what side I’m ovulating from and when my period is coming. I know really gross things about cervical mucus; I know more about that than I do French which I spent 9 years at school studying. I know what foods are good for fertility and foods to avoid, foods to increase sperm count and that peas are bad for morphology. It’s amazing how much a human can learn when they’re interested (obsessed) with something. If I was a contestant on Mastermind, my specialist subject would simply have to be fertility.
3. It is okay to cut toxic people from your life.
In episode 1 of my fertility vlogs on YouTube, I was asked what the most insensitive thing anyone had said to me regarding my fertility was. Funny enough, it was a comment a very good friend of ours made. The realisation that it is okay to cut toxic people from your life is one I’ve needed to learn for quite some time. I have always been a bit of a pushover and I have lost count how many times I’ve done things for people that any other person wouldn’t, how I couldn’t say no and I had an incessant need to be liked, yet when I needed support, those people were nowhere to be seen. You are absolutely allowed to cut off toxic people from your life. Toxic people will make out they are a victim, all the time, will not take no for an answer and will not change their ways despite causing you pain. When someone is that self absorbed, it is impossible to get the support you need. Over the last year I have stopped accepting negativity and have very much adapted the mantra that if a person does not bring any positivity to my life, then they shouldn’t be there at all. The difference it has made is impeccable.
4. Patience is a virtue.
Being patient is a quality I am not known for possessing; ask anyone who knows me to describe me and ‘impatient’ is probably one of the words they would use. I have never been spoilt, but the ability to wait is not something I am particularly good at. My husband will tell you, planning a surprise for me is not even worth the hassle. Finding out I was infertile and that it wasn’t going to happen very soon was awful for me. I wanted to start IVF immediately but we couldn’t for a multitude of reasons. I stomped my feet and I was angry and I was stroppy, but I’ve waited. I’ve learned that good things take time and rushing into things is not always the best thing to do. I have learned that taking time, having a clear head and making an educated decision is much better than acting immediately on emotion. I have learned how to be patient. I have a new found love for time; I can’t wait to have a child and start our IVF, but in the meantime I am going to make the most of the ‘freedom’ I have with my husband. I make the most of the time we have just us, because I know our relationship will be very different and a whole lot less spontaneous when it’s our time to be parents.
5. My husband is a blessing from a higher being.
I always knew my husband was incredible, but over the last year he has graduated from incredible to my absolute hero. The patience he has shown, the love he has given me and the unconditional support has been beyond words. That poor bloke has put up with me hysterically crying on the bedroom floor, outbursts of sobs and screams, irrational thinking and angry, bitter shouting from the woman he loves. He has had it rough being married to me. We got married and went on our honeymoon, within a month our world was then turned upside down and we were totally thrown in the deep end. Infertility tests a marriage beyond belief and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a time where neither of us thought we would make it. However, we did, because of him. If I’d had my way, we would have started IVF immediately. As much as I resented him for it, Marco refused to let me. Now, I thank him. There is no way I was ready, no way I was in the right mindset and no way I could have coped with the potential failure. I hate to admit it, but he was so right and often the man knows me better than I know myself. I don’t know how I got so lucky but I am so grateful to be on this journey with him. He is phenomenal.
The last year has been a rollercoaster and then some, one I would not wish on my worst enemy. However, infertility has taught me a never ending list of lessons. It has made me stronger, it has made me wiser; I now know I will be a better mother than I ever would have been before, when the time comes. I now feel at peace and I feel ready to start the next chapter of our lives, to start our IVF journey with positivity and hope as opposed to heartache and desperation. I can only hope the ride will be straightforward, but regardless, I know I can cope and I know I have a million things to be grateful for.
Love, Amber x