Last year I meet Lois Tonkin who was interviewing women for her book Motherhood Missed. One afternoon I went into London after work and sat with Lois and we talked for a couple of hours discussing my journey and the grief of childlessness. Around a year later I received my copy of the book this morning. I am looking forward to reading my the book. Get your copy and catch me at chapter 134…
I read a post titled ‘Gabrielle Union’s Infertility Heartbreak: “I Have Adenomyosis” ‘ which, I have to say, brought a tear to my eyes. At 43 I was broken after hearing the news that I had unexplained infertility which lead me to the realisation that I would not become a mother. But for as long as I can remember I have suffered from painfully heaving periods, which has lead to me being anxious at work, especially when I am in a meeting, having to leave work early because I frequently leak, overdosing on pain killers because I cannot function with the pain and all the sleepless nights because I am either woken up by the pain or the need to change every 2 hours. I have even had to be on iron tablets or received an iron infusion because I have become anaemic due to the blood loss. Over the years all I had ever heard from my doctors is that maybe its because of my age, until one doctor, 3 years ago, decided that this needed to be investigated because of my anaemia.
I have always known that I have fibroids but, during my fertility investigations (at 43 years old), I was told that the fibroids were inoperable but they shouldn’t affect my chances of getting pregnant. 4 years on, at the age of 47, a consultant finally decided to investigate further and sent me for an MRI. This showed that I have adenomyosis. I also discovered that the adenomyosis could have been the reason for my fertility issues so reading Gabrielle’s post I just couldn’t help but cry. The anger that the health professional, who are supposed to be helping, didn’t see the need to help with my monthly pain or with connecting the dots regarding my periods and inability to conceive with my husband.
I am at the end of my ‘trying to conceive’ journey and have spent the past 4 years grieving the loss of motherhood and although I am in a much stronger place the thought that I had an undetected condition that possibly affected my chances of conceiving does have me pause for thought. I cannot help but consider what could have been if at the adenomyosis was discovered sooner. I now have new tears for the pain in my heart that has been added to my grief of childlessness.
We have a campaign running, started by blogger Cherry Williams to create pictures of ourselves with the words #IamMe as the hashtag. The plan is to show how many childless women there are, how diverse we are and how we refuse to be defined JUST by our childlessness.
I have been spending some time recently reconnecting with my parents, learning more about their past and reflecting on their childhood memories. It’s been fun to hear their stories imagining them as children or young adults and discovering a bit more about their lives before they came to England. I have also spent many wonderful moments reliving the memories of my own childhood through our family albums laughing at the moments that my dad has captured through his camera. But today reliving those memories was surprisingly hard. My mum had left out this particular album for me to look through. The album housed childhood pictures that I had seen before and as I flicked through the pages I was reminded of the stories, held in the pictures, that my parents used to share with me from time to time. There was one particular picture that I picked up, a picture where my brother and I were sitting on the ground, in a park, with me sporting a rather unhappy look on my face.
My mum laughed when I asked her if this was the day when we both dropped to the ground in some kind of protest. She told me that my brother and I were so tired (from our day out in Hyde Park) that we both just sat down and refused to walk any further.
Hearing the joy in her voice as she reminisced on that day brought tears to my eyes. The feeling was so quick and unexpected but the realisation that I would never have stories to share about my children, with my children, slowly drifted over me and all I could do was cry. As much as this was a painful moment, it was short and passed just as quickly as it came but more importantly I was able to honour the feeling with the joy that I am now ok with my grief. There would have been a time that I would have felt ashamed that the pain existed let alone that I had cried about it but now I am ok with the tears. I now know that I can honour the love that I feel for my unborn children with the peace that that love will always be there. I also know that I have room in my heart to create memories with my nieces, nephews and god children, memories that will be cherished for years to come. One day I too will be able to look back at the pictures that I now take and laugh as I share the stories that are held within them.