*Warning: some possible triggers about the IVF process*
This blog isn’t intended to just be about our infertility journey. However, deciding not to progress with IVF is an important part of the story, and one which I don’t want to brush over because even now it seem to be an area of potential controversy.
So first and foremost, I have endometriosis and PCOS. These combined have meant we have been unable to conceive on our own. Endo can affect women in many different ways, but for me it’s unbearable pain around my period: I’m completely confined to my house for 48 hours whilst the worst blows over. I won’t go into how bad the pain is, but it’s bad. Either side of that I’m plagued with cramps, nausea and migraines. What a fun time!
Given the above, I always thought we might have trouble getting pregnant, and within the first year of trying to conceive my worst fears were confirmed: this probably isn’t going to happen for us naturally. Yet the IVF option didn’t sit well with me, even back then. My hormones and my periods have ruled a part of my life for many, many years and the idea of flooding my system with even more hormones to potentially screw my body up further was just something I struggled to get on board with. Of course I sought out professional opinions on “could the IVF process make my endometriosis worse?”. The answer? “It’s possible: we don’t know for sure”.
Now for some, the desire and need for a baby would override this risk, I totally get that, many of my friends have headed that way, but for me, it didn’t. I also wondered whether I should listen to my body which was not so subtly trying to tell me: “I’m going to struggle to carry a baby”. Even so, we visited IVF clinics, we researched and read up on it: I needed to know it was going to be the right decision to eventually say no.
So in the end, we did say no. It’s a decision that I feel entirely comfortable and at ease with now, but it’s taken a long time. We’ve both been through every emotion you can imagine and experienced sadness and loss in a way that I had no idea how to process. But finally both myself and M are in a good place: we’ve accepted and come to terms with it. Yet for some reason, it’s others who can’t seem to get their heads around it. I’m constantly bombarded with comments like:
“just give IVF one go, you never know”
“are you sure you’re never going to regret it?”
“I’ve done IVF and it really wasn’t that bad”
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
These comments come predominately from other mothers, who perhaps feel like I’m going to be missing out on the all the great stuff having a kid bring. I don’t think they can’t understand why on earth I wouldn’t keep trying anything and everything.
I know these comments don’t come from a bad place, but hey, you know what, I don’t actually know what it feels like to have a baby, so I find it difficult to miss a feeling I’ve never had, or a connection that doesn’t exist. I can imagine it, of course, and for many years I used to imagine it all through rose tinted glasses and torture myself that I would never have that experience. But now I appreciate that I can’t imagine what it feels like, and I need to focus on my own journey rather than wondering what others are like.
On the adoption point, we considered that too, but slowly we’ve developed a new future for ourselves, we’ve started to enjoy doing things together and have new plans and direction now: I feel a little awkward saying we’ve decided not to adopt, because it’s such an amazing and respectful thing to do, but that’s the decision we’ve come to that’s right for us.
What I will say though is I sometimes feel a little judged, and that I have to explain my decision and why I didn’t do everything in my power to have that baby. But I did try, I tried many, many different things for many, many years: I just knew when to draw my own line. And of course I have this uterus and ovaries which aren’t doing what they’re supposed to: create life. But despite this, I know that my body is amazing. It works really hard to protect and look after me: especially when my endo is bad, so I can’t help but love it, problems and all.
All of the above makes me think a lot about being a woman and what it means if you don’t have children. There can be such an emphasis on motherhood, fertility and how you’re defined in life as a woman, but I’ve never been one to follow the crowds and know now I do not need a baby to define who I am. Someone also told me recently that the uterus is the most creative part of the female body, because it creates life. Since I haven’t been able to do that, she encouraged me to really channel my creativity energies into every other aspect of my life. Create something everyday, no matter how small she said. So I’m working to express myself (and perhaps my femininity?) through other creative outlets, and it truly has helped. I guess what I’m also
saying is baby, no baby, it doesn’t have to define a person – we all have a choice to be whatever type of woman we chose! More on that on another blog maybe 🙂
Thanks for reading (if you managed to get to the bottom, this is much longer than I originally intended!)