Monday, 16 October 2017

:: COLUMN :: Endometriosis and infertility, part 1: trying to conceive

Image courtesy of http://bit.ly/2gf04ue

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


It might be hard to believe, but prior to being diagnosed with endometriosis, I didn’t want children. I was still quite young but, I was determined that children were not something I wanted for my future.

It was only when the pain I was suffering from was being investigated, that it dawned on me that I might not be able to have children. For me, that’s when everything changed. This realisation made me automatically want, not so much a child, but an answer: “Could I have children in the future?”. I spent the majority of my 20’s yearning for this answer and it never went away. It was present when I was alone, when I stepped outside the house and at night I dreamt of it. It was everywhere I went.

I would speak about it often, but it was an odd position to be in because I didn’t want a child at that age. The only hope my specialist could offer was that it might be possible, if my endometriosis stayed how it was post surgery. But it didn’t.

We started trying for a baby 7 years after I was diagnosed. Without knowing, I began my journey through the stages of infertility: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

I think that no matter what your health is like, whether you are fit, or suffer with illness on a daily basis; when you do eventually start trying for a baby, you expect it to happen. Even with my extensive and aggressive endometriosis, I still thought that I would get pregnant straight away.

When you don’t get pregnant in the first month of trying, your hopes change. I thought, we just needed to try a bit longer; it doesn’t always happen straight away, right!? But, deep down, I knew.

After 8 years of not knowing the answer to my question, and 1 year in to trying for our baby, I found out that one of my fallopian tubes was blocked. A few months later, I found out that irreversible internal damage caused by my endometriosis, along with me not ovulating and my blocked fallopian tube, meant that our 18 months of trying to conceive was futile. I couldn’t have children naturally.

I had always assumed that having this answer, would make the situation easier to deal with; that I could move on. Obviously, it didn’t. I was devastated.

It was near impossible to hide my grief. It made it difficult for me to see friends and their children. I was jealous and angry towards anyone around me that managed to get pregnant - with ease or not. I became very bitter; congratulating fellow endo sisters pregnancy announcements through tears and back-handed compliments (“Congratulations! That’s fab news that you didn’t have to go through fertility treatments!”). How could I be happy for others when my body wouldn’t work like theirs!? Why wouldn’t my body work like it should!? I’m female - isn’t this what I’m made for!?

A pelvic pain psychologist I saw during this time described infertility as being on the same psychiatric level as that of stillbirth. Two completely different situations unified by an ever-present grief that is never resolved and keeps on giving. And it did just that.

My journey wasn’t long in comparison to others though. We were granted one single round of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) after two years of trying to conceive. We got 10 eggs, 8 of which fertilised, 1 of which survived. No embryos made it to freezing. We had 1 single chance at having a baby… And he was the toughest little blastocyst we could have ever wished for and he grew to be the most incredible little boy. Our little boy - our miracle.

If you are facing infertility, please be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel this myriad of emotions. Realise it’s OK not to attend social events which will leave you in pieces. Communicate with your partner. Ask questions. And, although I would always usually encourage finding a support system either locally or online, be careful because these places might well trigger all the emotions you are trying to avoid.


You can follow my Endometriosis News column here.

S.
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