My story is almost two decades old now. It has been over 20 years since I began trying to conceive. Over 20 years since I first realised that it was not happening. And almost 20 years since my first conception and first lost, due to ectopic pregnancy. In some ways, getting that far was a surprise to me. As a child I didn’t harbour dreams of being a mother. Life for the mothers I knew, in a rural district in New Zealand, looked hard and lonely. That’s not what I wanted. I knew there was a big wide world out there, and I wanted to see it, live in it, be part of it.
So when I realised that I did want children, and felt ready to have them, I was a little surprised. I was more surprised when I began to feel sadness that it might not happen, and even more surprised at the grief that hit when I lost not one, but two pregnancies to ectopic pregnancy. Fertility treatments were not effective, and on my 41st birthday, the final door shut.
It was hard. I will never downplay how hard it was, and sometimes even now, still is. It got harder before it got easier. It was an up-and-down, back-and-forth process. But in that process, I learned a lot about myself, about resilience, about grief and joy and the beauty of the world around me. I learned a lot about my relationship, and about life. I learned that life doesn’t have to turn out the way you expect, or the way you wanted it to, to still be happy, fulfilling, and worthwhile. I learned skills that have helped me help others, and that have helped me get through other losses. I learned that I can be my own worst critic, and yet I learned how to love myself and my flaws. I’ve become both stronger and more vulnerable at the same time. I’ve become more flexible and resilient, and yet more sure of what is important to me, and why. I’ve become more self-assured but more compassionate, more isolated but also more connected.
Childlessness is forever, and so my childless story continues. It is not all of my story, but it will always be part of it. There will be more gifts from infertility and childless, and unrelated joys. But there will be pain too, laughter and tears. That’s life. I will no doubt learn new things too. I hope so. But now I know I can cope, and that I have people who understand. That, for me, is enough. I’m not kidding.
What is your story?
|Image from www.worldchildlessweek.net|