Part 1- Journey to conception
When I was asked to contribute to this forum, I did not hesitate to accept despite being 2 weeks into motherhood…..crazy, right? I did not accept because I have an inflated sense of self and hold possible beliefs of grandeur: I accepted because I was tired of the culture of secrecy and not sharing vital information amongst the sisterhood.
Not sure what I mean? You’ll get the gist as I publish my series of articles. Basically, women aren’t good at sharing their experiences of infertility, pregnancy, childbirth and parenting. For some obscure reason, we prefer to rubber-neck other people’s experiences to make ourselves feel better. Why is it important that I change the status-quo? So that we can help others manage expectations and make informed decisions. I’m gonna lay my soul bare and start with my story – please note that this series is based on my experience and some verifiable scientific fact; no hearsay, predictions or prophecies.
My journey starts with our long road to conception…I’ve recently become the proud mother of a beautiful baby girl (of course), after trying to get pregnant since March 2008. Why March? That is when I stopped my contraception – the Depo-Provera quarterly injection. I started this in 1999 to escape my extremely painful periods, and to avoid any surprises…I wanted to finish university, graduate and get a job so that when babies came, they would be raised in a stable and comfortable environment. My boyfriend now husband, was supportive as we both shared the same philosophy.
When we decided we were ready, the positive pregnancy test was as elusive as the scarlet pimpernel. Suddenly, every woman, their dog and cat, etc, were getting pregnant and I wasn’t. We both had all the blood tests, and I had a painful hysterosalpingogram, and investigative surgery and yet nothing was wrong with me or my hubby. Well meaning family sought help from various churches and the supernatural, and some made ludicrous promises like my first child would be a boy, blah blah…don’t get me wrong, I was grateful for their concern and good intentions, however, I prefer to be in control of my circumstances. So what were these?
- the Depo does carry a risk of delaying conception and can cause temporary infertility. What I should have done was take a break from it every 3-5 years, but I didn’t. That is not the fault of any supernatural entity.
- We only started thinking about expanding 3 years after getting married, so those years don’t count for the speculators.
- We waited until we were on a favorable rung on the career ladder, as I did not want to earn peanuts for my maternity leave.
We did manage to get pregnant in 2011 but sadly that ended as a miscarriage. As someone who had not yet experienced loss, this was it. It really felt like a piece of me died that day. I felt like a piece of my heart had been torn out. I wanted it to be a mistake, but it wasn’t. Imagine getting your positive result, and just waiting for that 12 week scan so you can see your little being for the first time, only to be told that the fetus had actually stopped growing at 6 weeks? All those dreams, hopes, plans are shattered, you now have to tell family that there is no bundle of joy and actually, I have to expel them from my womb. It doesn’t matter what anyone says but I lost my child that day, and that grief was real as ****.
You start with the grief, then you blame yourself – maybe I should have put myself on bed rest, maybe I shouldn’t have had that fish, maybe I shouldn’t have been sad last week, maybe I shouldn’t have cursed that morning sickness. Basically, you’re convinced you killed your baby. then you try to understand what happened as you come to terms with it, before you accept and will yourself to try again. Miscarriages are pretty common and if it’s before 12 weeks there’s nothing that can save your baby, as there is a very high chance that something went wrong with the DNA mixing process. I just happened to be one of the 1 in 4 women who has a miscarriage. That made me realize that life happens, I just drew the short straw and reminded myself that there’s others that have had 3 or more miscarriages, so I was going to have to pull myself together. I do not believe in a God that pre-ordains misery in exchange for a pass at the pearly gates, but I do believe in a God of love, a God that wants me to show and give the love He gives me so that I can grow spiritually. This meant counting my blessings, reflecting and persevering, – not wallowing and blaming evil influences. Success would come from exercising my freedom of thought and owning the story of my material and spiritual life. God doesn’t care about my material successes, but he does for my spiritual self. I had amassed great material wealth – it was now time to get my spirit right.
Surrender to what is. Let Go of what was. Have Faith in what will be. – Sonta Ricotti
So we finally got to the point where IVF was becoming an option, however when we went for the consultation I was told to lose weight so that it was in the healthy range for BMI. This meant losing 10kgs before they would consider me. It was at that point that I made the decision to change my narrative. Did I want to be remembered or known as the woman who was sad and barren and tried everything? Or did I want to live the rest of my life with no regrets, and appreciate all that I had?
I chose life – I chose to eat healthy, exercise and add more happy and positive experiences with my husband. I chose to acknowledge that there were others who would swap places with me in a heartbeat, and that I shouldn’t take things and people for granted. I chose to accept that it wasn’t a right to bear children, but a privilege, a gift and a blessing. So what if that less-deserving woman is pregnant for the 6th time? So what if all your mates are mothers? It had nothing to do with me, they made choices that put their lives on that path. Choices that I decided to postpone or discard. My “clock” was ticking and I realized that I was just stressing myself. So I let go…
If it happened, it happened…..it was hard but I became genuinely happy for other women’s blessings. I had a Master’s degree dissertation that needed completing and decided I needed to focus on that. We started playing squash, went swimming and walking everyday. We became health nuts and started planning another road trip.
This journey taught me:
- how to live – I am not what I have, I am how I treat others (not that I was mean before, probably less emphatic).
- It is not my right to have children – yes I have the equipment, but life happens and there are genuine medical reasons for your body not working. Just because it’s unexplained it doesn’t mean the devil is at work (something I don’t subscribe to – you create your own demons by being lazy in using the brain God endowed you with).
- How to slow down and reflect – we had enough time to decide how we were going to co-parent. What values did we want to instil? What talents did we want to nurture? How were we going to conduct ourselves so they could follow our example? What activities would we encourage? What name would maximize their opportunities in this foreign land?
- The value of life – life is tough, everyone wants the same things as me. I’m not the only special person and a baby will be more important and special than me. If I’m to have one, I need to understand the value of life and that my decisions no longer only affect me, instead, they will have the greatest impact on my child. And the scary bit is that that impact will last for their entire life time, not mine.
- Life happens – just roll with it. Meditate, pray for guidance and spiritual resilience, never give up hope.
I never got to start my dissertation…
Please do share your experiences with trying to get pregnant with us in the comments below. We’re excited to hear from you!