Monday, 23 October 2017

Endometriosis and infertility, part 2: post-baby

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:: This column was originally posted on Endometriosis News ::


Last week I spoke about infertility, the journey to conceive and the emotions you might face along the way. This week, I want to talk about some of the emotions you might face post-baby.

We were incredibly lucky in everything we faced with regards to infertility. I know, it might be hard to believe with facing infertility at all, but I do truly think we were lucky. From the short time we were trying to conceive before someone noted we needed help, to the fact we were even granted a round of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), right through to it working, despite only having that one single blastocyst, we got our baby. Some couples aren’t so lucky, and I thank my lucky stars every single day for our little boy. However, that was our chance and we won’t have another.

One thing I wasn’t prepared for after having our son, was the continued grief. I think many people presume that the feelings that surround infertility, magically go away when you have a child. But, let me tell you, they don’t.

For me, it all started with how we got our baby. I was surrounded by new mothers who had faced the joyful surprise of pregnancy through natural means, but I didn’t have that. Instead, I went through a process where every step was planned down to the day, sometimes, the hour. I went through injection after injection, intrusive scan after intrusive scan, and that hit me hard when I finally fell pregnant. We didn’t succeed in creating our baby by ourselves, just the two of us. There was a whole team of doctors and scientists involved. We even had to leave our embryos behind in a hospital lab for 5 days. I won’t ever get the chance to nervously think ‘could I be pregnant?’ and trot off to the shops to buy a pregnancy test with that fearful excitement in tow. It was all taken out of our hands.

I fully expected that after having a child, any thoughts of more children would disappear. I quickly realised that it was just a natural urge that you can in no way control. Something I should have realised sooner after 2 years of trying to conceive. However, after a somewhat traumatic pregnancy and labour, the thought of having another child honestly scared me. But there was also another reason why thoughts of having another child were, eventually, pushed to the back of my head. I had wanted our son for so long and we went through so much to get him; I never wanted anything to get in the way of that love. These thoughts promptly morphed into a simple yearning to go back in time and relive his newborn days again.

I longed to go back to those winter nights where we were wrapped in a blanket, curled up together all night because he didn’t want to be anywhere else but with me. To nuzzle my nose into his neck as he slept on my shoulder and smell that milky newborn baby smell. I desperately wanted to hold that little body of his again. With the daze of having a tiny person depending on you 24 hours a day, lack of sleep, recovering from labour and the whirlwind of visitors; that period of time passes without you even realising it and before you know it, it’s gone. I would still give anything to just have a moment of that back again.

As our son grew, I slowly started to realise that the things we experienced together, I might never get to experience again. While other parents are packing away all of the outgrown baby clothes for the next baby, we were selling those things. Being practical really, but it became hard when we had to part with things that held memories. Moments together we would never get to experience again. His first words, first actions. As a breastfeeding mother, I’m still holding on to these fleeting moments of just us. When we stop, that’s it. That one last thing that makes him still my baby - when we stop he’ll be my little boy. All grown up.

Infertility doesn’t leave you when you have a child. I’m certain there will be many more trying moments.

It really is the grief that keeps on giving.

You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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