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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

Am I Not a “Real Woman”?

I read a comment made a few weeks ago by a celebrity that she would now be a “real woman” having been able to give birth to her child.

It felt like a slap to my face reading the article and I sent my phone sailing across the room in temper. Shouting – “So what does that make me?” after it!

It’s a thought that my cruel inner voice often shares with me in those quiet moments. I often lay in the darkness trying so hard to sleep. I listen to my husband’s steady breathing and I cry silent tears. That voice sometimes whispers to me many cruel things, of all of them this is the worst;

“It’s you, you are defective and you are not a real woman you can’t even keep a pregnancy!”

By the next morning all such thoughts are banished, my eyes show no signs of the tears shed in the night. I put on my make-up, straighten my shoulders and face the world. After all, the world does not stop for you, no matter how terrible you are feeling.

That comment echoed by someone of influence, someone that I have always respected as a role model to young girls everywhere, it stung! I know that those comments were not meant as an attack on all the women out there struggling with infertility simply how she was feeling, but does that make it ok?

There are still so many pressures even now for women to conform get married and have children. It’s one of the first questions often asked without any regret of tact of a newlywed couple or of a woman of “advancing” age. And god forbid that a women or couple should choose to not want to have a child! Imagine that?!

The dreaded question of “When are you expanding you family?” or “When can we expect a little one??” becomes a constant pain, one where I often find myself being flippant or worse lying to cover the clear pain in those questions.

“I’m too selfish to have children”,

“We love to travel too much”

Until one day I just stopped! I started to share our heartache and so many other couples in our situation shared with me theirs. I could no longer keep silent.

Am I less of a woman because I have never given birth? NO! I am not. I have held myself together through some the most invasive, intrusive and painful examinations. I have endured the physical pain that comes along with having PCOS, month after month of excruciating pain that has seen me pass out and vomit. No baby to show for it.

I have got up and gone to work after learning that we have lost yet another pregnancy, my heart breaking into a million pieces. I have smiled and continued moving forward even though all I wanted to do was take to my bed and forget the world existed.

I have congratulated and held my composure through many friends and relatives getting their families before me, some at times when I have lost pregnancies. I have smiled and supported them while inside my silent screaming grief would be enough to rip some people to pieces.

I have sat in waiting room, after waiting room of the scanning departments at hospitals surrounded by beautiful baby bumps while our dream was lost.

I am every inch a real woman, as is every other woman out there struggling to have a family or indeed those women that have simply decided that motherhood is not for them. I am honoured to help others through my blog pages, when they feel at their lowest points to say – you are not alone. You matter and what you feeling deserves to be heard!

We are real women. I hope that anyone that hears these sorts of comments from high profile celebrities, friends or even sometimes family members that you remember how strong you actually are! We fight every day for what we want no matter the pain we endure both mental and physical. We are freaking warriors, I hope that we never forget that!

 

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When Did Hope Die? 

We have been on this journey for so long now, had so much disappointment and heartbreak somewhere along the way I lost something I thought I never would …. I lost all hope. Along with that, I lost the dream of being a mother. 
I’m not sure when this happened, perhaps it slipped away a little at a time. Perhaps is was ripped out in buckets with every silent heartbeat on a scan monitor or with the negative pregnancy test sitting in my lap, anointed with freshly fallen tears. Perhaps that’s where my hope disappeared, slowly down tear tracks etched into my cheeks over 12 years. I don’t know. 

All I know is this last couple of weeks, as the weight has slowly started to fall off, I have felt a flutter that has been missing. My hope was returning. 

Once I realised this is what I was feeling, I was crushed to know just how lost I had been before now. It upset me to think that I had given up on our dream. I had written myself off as a failure, I had convinced myself I couldn’t do this. 

One of the most gut wrenching, heartbreaking things to get your head around when you have fertility issues is that it’s you. You are the reason why.  You are defective. You can not perform the one task that should be so natural for a woman to do.  You, you ….. YOU! Even with that knowledge I thought I was strong. I thought we had shouldered more than most could bare and retained our sanity. 

While it’s true we have shouldered a lot. Cried more tears in the twelve years trying for a child than I could count. I do feel like I have lost a part of me in the process. I was an optimist. I was so sure that even with my PCOS we would get pregnant that every failed pregnancy we lost, every negative test that followed I believed it was taking us closer to what we wanted. That no world could be so cruel to allow us not to get our dream. 

Twelve long years, slowly but surely that hope died in me. I didn’t mourn it all at once, or acknowledge it at all really. I didn’t even notice it was gone until I felt a glimmer come back. 

I’m 36. The window is closing. Perhaps that is why the motivation is staying with me this time. I need to loose the weight to get treatment and it always felt like a mountain. Now I am 25.5lbs down with another 42lb plus to go, but I actually feel like I can do this! 

The more I feel confident that I can lose the weight. The more that the hope I had lost seems to return. 

Will we ever realise our dream to be parents. I don’t know. But the fact I have finally found the confidence to keep going, to take control of something for once! That makes me hopeful. 

If anyone is reading this with PCOS over weight and wondering how you could possible find the grit to try and loose weight. Give yourself a break, take it one meal at a time and most of all forgive the slips. 

I am not a natural gym bunny 🐰 or healthy eater but learning to forgive my slips and getting back to it the next meal has been something that’s new and it’s keeping me on track. Am I perfect!? Hell No! But I want it so badly. I am not thinking so far in the future I am planning one week at a time. Hoping that I can stay strong. We can all do that. 

Wish me luck xoxo

Dear baby. I know you are waiting …. 

A letter to our unborn child.

Dear baby bean,

I know you are waiting patiently to reach us. I know you are close by waiting for the stars to line up and for mummy’s body to work to give you a safe space to nestle in and grow.

I want you to know I dream about you often, your smiles and giggles, the soft touch of your baby skin, the gentle slope of your button nose that you get from your daddy because I have a bumpy nose! I can almost smell your head and breathe in the perfect baby scent that makes women crazy enough to want to endure the pain of labour to hold you in their arms.

I would sit for hours cradling you as you sleep too scared to put you down. Not minding in the least that I would be spoiling you, I wouldn’t care. It feels so unfair that we can’t do that yet. I ask often why us? What did we do? I know in my heart we would cherish and love you and give you the best home we could. It breaks me to think that we may never get to show you the wonderful life we could give you.

Every day it feels like I have a silent scream that can’t ever be heard. Where is my baby?!?!

I like to think we have been chosen to endure this heartbreak because something special is yet to come. That would be you. So no pressure little bean!

We have so much love in our home, it’s bursting at the seams, there is so much love for you waiting here if only you could reach us. Daddy tells me you would be playing football and would definately be a boy, sharing all the nerdy things in his world and especially your first time sitting on his Harley with him. I wouldn’t let you on the bike of cause, but that’s an arguement for another day.

I wouldn’t care if you were boy or girl …. and don’t tell him I said this but neither does daddy, he just likes to annoy me.

We have two beautiful doggies Jackson and Tara that are waiting for a little friend to love and play with. They would make wonderful and protective pets for you. They love to snuggle in close.

I already know what your nursery would look like, I have had years to imagine it. The colour may change but in the corner would sit a rocking chair for you and me …. we might let daddy use it too. I would sing to you and rock you to sleep, our perfect little bean.

There would be a book shelf  filled with wonderful worlds and fairy tails. As you grow older I would read to you at bed time, I love to read and I feel sure that is something you would grow to love too. I would share the world of Harry Potter and other such magical places to escape and imagine before you go to sleep. ……. while daddy would read Star Wars and motorbike manuals to you and explain how many ways in which you can change the look of your bike when you get one ….. which would be never have I mentioned no bikes?!

I’m sorry you have to wait so long, we are trying so hard to get you here. Can you wait a little while longer? You are still the twinkle in the stars for now as my body just can’t keep you safe. I’m so sorry about that. I’m working hard to make a change to make it safe.

I hope it won’t be too much longer.

I’ll never let the dream go little bean. You are with me always.

❤️❤️

Life’s little curve balls 

On this very long road to parenthood we have experienced many ups and downs. Life’s throws things at you and you have to decide on many occasions if you are sinking or swimming. 

There are many moments that I have wanted to simply shut myself from the world and sink. Allow the darkness to take me. Sounds dramatic, and those who know me would likely agree I am a dramatic person. For this fertility journey I would disagree. No one has seen the many hours of waiting for ovulation tests, followed by weeks of waiting only to have your dreams repeatedly crushed with another negative test. 

Sat on the bath side, test on the sink, not touching it like that would effect the outcome if you accidentally knock it the wrong way! Watching the flashing timer or the line creeping up the window of the test, waiting……. hoping …….. then NEGATIVE!! 

To start with I would console myself with, well it’s early days, keep trying. As the years passed those moments got harder and harder and would often result in a total meltdown on the bathroom floor. 

When those tests were positive, in those beautiful rare occasions. My excitement was short lived replaced with fear and then the inevitable loss. 

Some may ask why we continue to put ourself through this. Anyone that would ask this has clearly never felt the desperate urge to have a child you just can’t seem to keep. 

I feel like we are batting back curve balls all the time and one of the biggest battles for me is my weight. Repeatedly doctors would say loosing weight is what needs to happen to progress now, apparently there is no help left for chunky monkeys! 

Having PCOS those who know, will understand just how hard it is to shift this weight, leading to anger, resentment and eventually desperation as the weight clings on. 

At the end of May I decided to give it one more go, we had decided that we would pay for the treatment needed, but even privately I needed to loose some weight. 

I stepped into my first Slimming world class after the bank holiday weekend at the end of May. Not really sure if I could do it after so many failed attempts before. I went home, worked out what I would eat for the week and thought I will give it 12 weeks. If it doesn’t work then I will go back to the docs! 

Week one I lost 11lbs! We had weigh in six last night and I have now lost 22lbs! I have no idea what is different now but I will keep going as long as it will let me. 

So the treatment looks closer now. Sadly my husband was in a motorbike accident a couple of weeks ago, broken his shoulder and he’s a self employed blind fitter. Out of the window goes the paying privately for treatment! We could have a melt down and think we just aren’t meant to be parents!

No! 

We won’t. 

What I am now aiming for is to get below that BMI that seemed impossible to get to not so long ago! We have a new challenge, we have had so many over our relationship. We are a team. I know we will make it through this curve ball just like we always have. 

Life can’t be planned out. Things change. Some of those life plans can be hard to let go of. But if we spend time hanging on too hard to the dream that we just can’t achieve that’s out of our hands, we will miss the wonderful things happening around us now – This minute. 

I hope more than anything that we manage to get our family. One day. Until then, war paint on and keep fighting. 

I might be a drama queen 👸🏼 but I am also a frickin warrior too!! I bare the battle scars of a childless mothers heart break. Only those who walk this road with me truly knows how that feels. We are pretty awesome 👏🏻❤️❤️

The Demon Voice Tormenting a Fat Girl

I have gone many years as a chunky monkey, I think the very truth of the matter is that I have always felt like “that girl” the plain frumpy one, the DUFF, I was always the ugly one out of my friends. I hate that word ugly but for the purposes of this blog and honesty that’s how I felt.

I didn’t refer to myself as this because I wanted people to say “No you aren’t you are beautiful” It was the real true of the voice in my head, no one would want me…. I mean, look at me!

I think that feeling started to take root from a young age so that it became part of who I am and my making reference to my weight or appearance first was a defence. I was always the friend, never the girlfriend. Then I met my husband young after a small number of unsuccessful relationships, he saw me in a way I still to this day don’t really understand. I felt like he might have  broken vision or something that he didn’t see what the rest of the world did. Until him my mother was the only one that told me I was beautiful, and she has too say that right?

What makes me feel sad when I think back to those pre Ben years is I felt like being less that a beauty queen meant I was less than, I felt worthless and unloved in general. I have a strong relationship with my mother but I always felt like the least loved in everyone else’s eyes. That lonely little girl, with a front of humour and being tough cookie and it breaks my heart and she has steered so much of my life.

There is a lot of focus on body positive image now, some camps are big is beautiful, some are big is unhealthy and should loose weight. I am of the opinion that people should mind their business, beautiful is more than a dress size or a gym routine. Beauty is most definitely in the eye of the beholder. I wish I had known that growing up.

I have tried so many times to loose the weight, it has of cause been made difficult by the PCOS not impossible but hard. I have had perfect eating weeks with exercise on at least 5 days an still put on weight.

This time we are trying to loose the weight for treatment, not to fit into some clothes or for me to feel beautiful, I am loosing weight to have a baby. The beauty of it all now seems so stupid. I am entirely loved by my husband that’s all that matters to me.

Will I succeed this time? Who knows, I started Slimming World and I have lost 13.5lb in two weeks which is great but I know that can’t continue the bitch that is PCOS will see to that, I am just taking one meal at a time and trying to forgive and forget any slips as quickly as I can.

That little voice in my head that tells me that I can’t do it, that I am no good, that no one will love me its still there sometimes I am not going to lie, but I have found a way to lower the volume.

If I could pass on one bit of advice to just one person out there reading this is –

The outside world will always have opinions, on social media sadly some people seem to get off on writing hurtful things about people they don’t know, not to mention those “health” fanatics that feel its ok to post videos and comments to tell people to not be lazy put less in move more, these people have never been through what you have.

If people spent more time focusing on their own happiness the world would be a better place, this is their problem not yours. Beauty is not on the front of a magazine or walking on two long legs down a catwalk, beauty is in your heart. Don’t let anyone make you feel less than. We are all different, what a boring world it would be if we were not. See you for who you really are, beauty on the insides radiates out no matter what your body and face look like and the world will see you that way.

I hope this time my weight comes off, I hope I can get my body in shape to carry a baby I have been desperately trying for 12 years for. Its funny how this time the size 10 jeans from top shop that seemed so  important seem kinda silly now. Especially as I am loosing weight to grow another beautiful big belly……. funny how things turn out.

 

The Childless Father on Fathers Day

Mother’s Day has been and gone and for the most part I survived this year unscathed. I thought of our babies, I wondered how my morning would have been different. As I always do, but I survived. 

Father’s Day is approaching and normally it passes without celebration.  Both my husband and I didn’t have dad’s growing up. Our mothers would get the cards and the thanks for being awesome enough to be both father and mother to us. This year I’m thinking about my husbands experience, what he’s missing because I can’t give him children. 

I feel the men on this fertility journey can often be over looked. Not least because in my husbands case, he won’t talk or say anything more than he isn’t bothered either way, he would be happy just us. Recently he has started to feel that he would like a child . A boy specifically but that’s for another blog lol. 

I don’t feel like he’s so wrapped up that this day will plague him like the alternative has me in the past 12 years, but my heart aches for the moment I would see him holding our child. So I know he must have thought of what the life would look like too. 

He loves his motorbikes, specifically Harley’s. Would he take him (or her like it or not we don’t get to choose 🙄🙄) to rally’s and events. Would he spend endless hours kicking a football around with them, setting up dens in the living room, camp outs in the front garden, wrestling on my new sofa that I would no doubt scold them for doing. 

We have a day to celebrate the fathers out there, and I feel like my husband, Ben should be celebrated too. He would be a wonderful father. 

I wanted to take a moment to say I am thinking about those who may find Sunday hard. You aren’t alone. Try and let your other halfs know you need some love. There is no shame in asking for a hand to hold. 

I hope that soon we are all able celebrate these days, I hope the world gets to see what an amazing father Ben would be. 

❤❤

Motivated by a friend – PCOS Weight loss

tracey
Tracey Yale, my friend who motivated me to start my journey again.

I started to share my fertility story and it warmed my heart to receive so many messages of support and people going through the same thing. While I am moving through my grief and looking to the future The one thing that I have never really fully concurred is my weight. I don’t think I will ever be able to let go of the dream of having a family until I have at least tried this.

I feel my story is one so many could tell, in a way my weight has been my protector against all the pain I associate with getting pregnant. Especially after loosing our babies.

Well this week I am back at it and after my first weigh in showed I had lost 11lbs on the programme in one week! I am so excited to see what I can achieve. I am no fool – I know slow and steady wins the race. There will be hard weeks and there will be good weeks. I will share them all with you!

I also believe having success stories out there to give you motivation and see others with the same condition succeed is so important. I am luck that I have a friend Tracey Yale who is one such success story, she is a beautiful person inside and out! She has worked so hard to get to where she is now and so has motivated me to follow her, with her help.

I am going to share a few stories like this over the coming weeks so please if you have a story to share with my readers then get in touch!

Here’s Tracey’s Story:

I was diagnosed with PCOS when I was 25 but pretty much knew for a few years prior that I had it as my younger sister had been diagnosed quite young and I had all the same symptoms. When I first got told about the potential fertility issues it shook me slightly but having just started dating my now husband it wasn’t relevant until the years ticked by and ‘that’ conversation came up. We decided we would deal with whatever came our way and if it wasn’t to be we’d just go on lots of holidays. We got married in October 2013 at my absolute heaviest wearing a size 24 wedding dress and not caring in the slightest.

I was marrying my best friend and was so so happy. I came off the pill almost immediately and the old niggle returned along with the lack of a period. I knew quite quickly that any initiation into fertility treatment would be met with ‘you need to lose weight’.

On 10th February 2014 I walked into my local Slimming World group with zero hope and no real motivation, the consultant was talking about how they went for a meal in summer and one near Christmas, I told myself there was no point listening to the details as I wouldn’t be attending by summer let alone Christmas. I’d tried and failed so many times to lose weight so why would it work this time?

Despite my head telling me I couldn’t do it, my heart told me different and I forced myself (yes actually forced myself, whinging for a full 2 weeks how I just wanted a take away or chippy tea) and after those initial 2 weeks noticed that I was actually doing pretty well, week on week I set myself a small, achievable target for the following Monday and made it my mission.

Before I knew it I was actually enjoying it, trying new food, being more active and losing weight. In May 2014 my periods returned, I was so overjoyed I told a restaurant full of people on my return back from the ladies room, by September 2014 I’d lost just over 6 stone and was feeling great.

The month came to a close and I’d been feeling tired, lethargic and my nipples felt like I’d got friction burn, so to try and stamp out the excitement that was rising I took a test to rule it out, I couldn’t allow myself to dream that far incase it came to nothing.

My test was positive!!

On 1st October 6st 4lb lighter I was pregnant. Suffice to say I wouldn’t believe it until a scan had proved it. The weeks ticked by and scan after scan kept confirming that my baby was growing well and healthy.

On 21st May 2015 my amazing dream baby boy Joey was born all 8lb of him. During my pregnancy I’d indulged in cake and ice lollies and put near enough all of my weight back on but now I had a new purpose so I returned back to Slimming World 2 weeks later and today have a very beautiful 2 year old and am 10 and a half stone lighter. I never dared to believe this would be possible or that I could achieve any of the above but it can happen.

Does My Infertility Make You Uncomfortable?

Over the last 12 years I have found myself repeatedly making excuses and comforting others because of how my infertility affects them.

It started after my first miscarriage when on my return to work I had to explain why my mother had called into to work for me apparently, it was unclear when my mother told them that I had lost a pregnancy and was not in any state to speak to anyone. They were confused as to why I hadn’t called in.

I witnessed the call it was clear enough to me, at that time I was curled up in my bed waiting for the pain to pass. Not particularly wanting to continue breathing much less speak to my manager.

As time went on and my friends started their own families around us, I always knew when someone was pregnant because I could feel the awkwardness in the conversation. There have been times when I have just out right asked, “Are you pregnant?”

I can honestly say, even though I did feel jealous, I was always happy for them. At first I would say “Oh don’t be silly, don’t feel bad telling me! I am fine!” Me comforting them through the experience of having to tell their defective friend they were getting their bundle of joy after only a couple of months of trying.

I never felt angry at first, I was genuinely happy for them. It was only as time moved on I started to feel a twinge of annoyance. Not at the fact they were pregnant, but at the fact I was the one that had to brush it off like it wasn’t a massive thing. To make them feel less uncomfortable with the conversation, like it was my fault.

I would hear that things being said about us like, “Well we can’t stop living our lives just because they can’t have a baby” and while this was true, we would never expect anyone to stop their lives for us. I felt like I wanted to scream out – YOU DO GET THAT WE HAVEN’T ASKED FOR THIS?? DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT THIS HAS HAPPENED TO US, WE HAVE NO CONTROL?! NO ONE IS ASKING YOU TO STOP ANYTHING!

I know that it is an awkward thing to do, to tell someone that you care about you are getting the dream they are being tortured to try and achieve. If I could go back and talk to those friends now, having come out the other side of my grief. I would encourage them to talk to me as they would any other friend. The worst is having it dropped on you when you didn’t know they were trying.

I am not suggesting that anyone in my life should share their plans with me about starting a family, no. I am talking about those close friends that you normally share everything with. I feel that knowing that it’s likely to be happening lessens the blow, and in truth if I had known that I would have reacted badly to the news when it eventually came, it would have given me time to prepare.

It’s no one’s fault, but me feeling like I had to make excuses and act like it was all ok made it worse. Sometimes it isn’t OK and if your friend is a good one they will understand if you have a few tears with them, they will know that you are happy for them and that you will love their baby just as you love them. But that in that moment, just for a few minutes you might feel the need to feel a bit sad.

Everyone else in their life will no doubt be excited by the news, is it so terrible to let you react how you need to? To give you a hand to hold and be honest. Being pregnant is often a daunting and scary prospect and I wanted to be there for my friends. It was hard to do that when they were looking at you like you might have a breakdown, or even worse steal the baby!

We aren’t handed a “How to Guide”, we don’t know how to handle these situations any more than the rest of the world. I do know that I don’t feel the need to make those excuses anymore, I am not over whelmed with making sure that other people don’t feel uncomfortable because of our infertility, like it was a choice we have make.

One of the reasons I talk so openly on the subject, is that I want it to be less awkward for people. There is so much taboo surrounding fertility and miscarriage and loss. People don’t know what to say but I believe that’s largely because we don’t talk about it so how could they know?

So, if you have a close friend like me that you share your world with, please be honest with them. Let them in on the journey and if you can, let them know it’s OK to feel sad. Let them deal with the information in their own time, if there is anger don’t take it personally. Give them time to be happy for you.

I Am Sorry We Can’t Have Children. A letter to my husband.

Today is our anniversary, 8 wonderful years married and 14 years together. I am proud of those years, not because it’s a long time because there are marriages and relationships into 50, 60 years. But I am proud because we are as happy now as we were then, the years have flown it feels like only a few months. I feel like that’s an achievement, we work hard at our marriage.

Our life would be perfect, except for one cloud.

I can’t give you children.

This is the only black cloud in an otherwise blue sky. I wanted to say how sorry I am about that. You are always so wonderful about it, if it is just us two you are happy with that. But it makes me so sad to think you might never be a father.

Our own fathers left us, we share that too. We were raised by amazing women. You were taught to love and respect the women in your life and would do anything for us, I am sure of this. Just as I would do anything for you and I wish that I could do this one thing.

I know you would make an amazing dad, I am not sure you believe this. It is true. You only have to look at the children around you and how they adore spending time with you ……. and your motorbikes.

I often imagine what it would be like to watch you with our children, playing football, nurf gun fights, camp outs in the back garden, sleepy Sundays, sneaky rides out on your motorbikes without mummy knowing. I am certain s/he would be a daddy’s boy/girl. I would act like it wasn’t ok but I would love it really. My little family.

I know you worry about how it would change us, but I think we would be fine. Tired? sure. Grouchy?….. probably. But happy? I am certain of this because we make a good team. The one thing that all this time has given us is a clear idea of how we would raise our kids making sure we are on the same page. And oh, how they would be loved by both of us.

I am so sorry that I am the reason you might not get to experience fatherhood. I wish I could change what we have been through. I wish that I could change what I have and we could have had a normal progression from two to three. I can’t.

I am sorry you have had to go through losing our babies helplessly, uncertain of what to do to make it better while dealing with your own sadness. You did great, all I ever needed was your arms to hold me, to make me stronger.

If all we ever are, is two plus fur babies, I want you to know that’s ok. Because what we have is everything. I am grateful for that. I am happy to travel the world with you, have lazy mornings and late nights. Dance parties in our car to old school rap and hip-hop, acting like we are cool and failing miserably. To just stand still a while and appreciate what we do have, each other.

Happy Anniversary, can’t wait to see what the years ahead of us bring.

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