This has been a long time coming and it's not easy to write about. Like my rare illness and subsequent Ostomies have been a journey of acceptance so has my infertility! I want this to be an honest and open account of how it has affected me and at times how dark it got!
However, now the universe has put Laurence and Molly, his beautiful 10-year-old daughter, into my path words cannot begin to describe how much she has enriched my life. I truly love this girl and it is pretty amazing that she entered my life when I was struggling with my infertility.
The Day they Told Me I Could Never Carry a Child
It was about 5 years ago, I had just moved to Bournemouth from Bristol with my ex-fiancé. He was a Greek and as you may be aware the Mediterranean culture is big about families. We had planned to get married and have kids although deep down I always had that niggly feeling that my body would not be able to go full term. I was very poorly back then before the stomas and there would be no way I could have cared for a newborn.
So that day I was seeing my consultant about another operation date for my Ileostomy prolapse re-fashion. I mentioned pregnancy to him and straight away his response was “A foetus can survive almost anything but you wouldn’t ...” This was before I had my bladder removed and my Ileal conduit formed. Needless to say, we were devastated and during that consultation, I was admitted for 3 weeks due to the prolapse and infection. For my ex, I think this was the start of the downward spiral of our relationship. He could not understand and still wanted to try for a child but after being told it would kill me he still could not accept it. It was my GP who very bluntly told me how selfish it would be to have a child and how dangerous it could be. He even suggested that had an appointment with my ex but he never went to see him. Not long after this, we split after 6 years of being together and we were due to get married. I moved out and re-established myself in a tiny rented studio flat which I loved because it was mine and I began to find myself.
A year after the split, I was having horrific spasms with my SPC (I had it for 7 years) and I had a Cystoscopy Investigation which they found that my bladder was extremely small, damaged and the biopsy showed that the cells had started to mutate. Within two weeks of the Cystoscopy, I had my bladder removed and an Ileal conduit formed.
I attended the appointment with one of my best mates. Before the op, they told me the plan. During this consultation, my surgeon explained that due to the mutations he needed to ‘peel’ my bladder away from the uterus and take out some lymph nodes. Due to this ‘peeling’, he said I would not be able to carry a child full term and although we do not know if I can actually conceive, if I did I would have to have an immediate abortion. I was glad my mate came with me because I completely blanked this information and did not take it in. My mate was a top counsellor and he observed that I had not taken the information in. The next few days he gently reminded me of this fact. I was devastated and my mate spent a long time trying to get me to talk but back then I used to bury my feelings deep and not let them see the light of day. At the time I was concentrating on the operation, removing the SPC and living my life again.
How I Processed this Information
At the time I didn’t! Now I can see I struggled and buried my head in the sand. As mentioned in previous posts 21 months ago I stopped abusing my pain medication I had developed an addiction and at the time did not realise how much I was misusing them. Since I stopped abusing my pain relief, I now only take what is prescribed and no more, I actually started to deal with my feelings and not self-medicate them. It was painful finally facing this truth but being in a 12 step fellowship for the addiction, my sponsor and my friends helped me work through the feelings.
Over time I realised that it was not ideal for me to have a child. With my poor health and prognosis, it wouldn’t be fair and I began to accept my situation. A few years previously my ex and I went to the Adoption and Fostering panel and got turned down because of my health and prognosis. Now with my recurrent sepsis and kidney problems, I would definitely be turned down.
I went to a zoo a year ago and I broke down seeing all the little newborn babies everywhere. The guy I was with at the time got me to sit down and really feel the grief and pain. I cried and then in feeling it, we prayed to the universe to take the pain away and let go. Visualising the pain in my hand I blew the pain out of my hand and felt the instant calmness of finally letting go.
Don’t get me wrong now I still have good and bad times regarding having children. That little pang in my heart can still happen when I see a newborn baby.
However, as mentioned, 6 months ago in walked Molly and Laurence into my life. I love that kid so much! It isn’t easy being the step parent or bonus parent and the 3 of us are still adjusting and testing boundaries but I guess this is normal. I treasure the moments when I put Molly to bed and we read “The Faraway Tree” (My favourite book as a kid) and stroke her hair while singing old songs. It hasn’t been easy and has been hard not having any experience with children or discipline but together we are finding our feet. I have much more respect for mothers and fathers who have a chronic illness.
The pain of not having your own child never really goes away but it does get easier. Now I enjoy buying baby and children clothes for friends because I know I will not be able to buy for myself. I love it and I guess selfishly fills a need in me.
Just like grieving it never completely goes away but it does get easier over time. It hurts but over time it hurts less. Having Molly has enriched my life beyond belief. It has filled a need in me and when I hear Molly tell her friends I am her Step-mum it warms my heart. I see her as my ‘bonus’ daughter and regardless if the relationship with Laurence ends I will always be in Molly’s life in some way.