Sat in the studio trying to focus, a feeling of unease is in my stomach rising through me, down my arms into my hands, which are shaking.
I am working hard on not trying to write the narrative of the upcoming phone call before it has even begun. I have all my facts and figures laid out next to me and I have captured as much information as possible.
I feel like I am going into to plead a case, to be prepared when the conversation invariably sway’s off course to discuss the aspects of my infertility. I need to be strong and grounded to purvey my truth.
Every word I say has to count.
The phone rings and its the doctor, right deep breathe here we go…….
So lets give a little background here.
In April I started using the menstrual cup, this highlighted to me how much blood I was loosing. I knew I was going through super tampons and a pad every hour, but this didn’t really equate to anything for me, its just what my monthly cycle did, its normal right?
So as I recorded the amounts and I was shocked, and yes shocked is the right word, and I was perplexed as to how this was not having more of an impact on my body.
It kind of shook me a bit, and I decided I needed to record several months and gain the courage to speak to a doctor, as something can’t be right.
So here are numbers for blood loss per monthly cycle.
(“Most women will lose less than 16 teaspoons of blood (80ml) during their period, with the average being around 6 to 8 teaspoons.” NHS Health Website )
June 132 ml
Stepping back into Monday, back in the studio, the phone rings and the consult begins.
My heart is beating, how can I say my point with strength, power, calmness, and clarity.
The usual; “how can I help you? “Echoes through the receiver, and I start by saying I wish to discuss my monthly cycle and the heaviness of the flow, and the concerns I have surrounding it. I outline the bloods loss, the crippling pain, the flu like symptoms, the soreness of my breast’s, bleeding mid cycle and the fatigue that follows each cycle.
I am ready poised waiting for all the suggestions coming my way. (I have been here before), and like clockwork the doctor reels of all the hormonal treatments and then the NSAIDS and clotting medication available.
Hurdle number one, deep breathe as I explain why I cannot do hormonal treatment and how medication contains lactose, which I am allergic to and causes a immune system response, heightening my CFS symptoms, meaning I can not entertain everyday normal function of life.
I feel disheartened already; I can hear where this conversation is going to go and every fibre in my being wants to stop, hang up and runaway from this call. The doctor is doing their job, but it doesn’t make it any less painful to sit through.
Sat in my studio, my place of sanctuary, all of sudden the walls are getting closers, my heart is beating so fast and the tears are rising, my voice trembles and I apologise for getting emotional as I say “menopause in my family is around the age of 60, I don’t think I can keep going like this, I have had had my periods since I was 11.”
Discussion moves onto surgical procedures, I feel for a moment I have been heard, until it comes crashing down, shattering through me, making me feel hollow and empty, and like a complete FRAUD.
The words “these procedures are for women who have had children and you will not be considered until you have had children.”
Hello merry go round my old friend, you incite nausea, you leave me spinning and unaware of who I am, what is my truth and you leave me unsteady for days.
“ I can’t have kids”, trickles out of my mouth and flows down the phone.
It’s met with “Why?”
Breathe in and big sigh out, here we go…
“I was told when I was 19 I have significant scarring on my fallopian tubes which means it will be very unlikely I can have kids, coupled with the diagnose of PCOS in my early 20’s and all my hormonal profiling’s clearly showing I can not conceive. My husband and I have decided that we do not wish to explore medical interventions, we are not going to have children as it is not meant for us.”
I can feel myself shaking, trying to contain years of emotions, all tethered to the journey of knowing I can’t have kids and how this has shaped my life.
“But you have a regular cycle, you will be fertile”
In this moment I am wondering how do I make myself heard, how do I prove I can’t have kids. I know I can’t, numerous doctors and specialist have been involved in this process over the years and have said yes I can one minute only to retract it the next.
Repetitive false hope, so eventually I just started to hear a low hum and decide that the medical system is just not for me.
Instead I just said “ I have been with my husband for 13 years and over the years we have only practiced safe sex some of the time, we should of been pregnant, and we actively tried for over a year.
(This may seem crazy that we tried, but I was always of the thinking if it was meant to be it would happen. And even here I am justifying my decisions.)
I follow it up clearly with we have decided that there is life beyond infertility and that is our life and the one we have chosen.
Feeling quite proud, I am sat quite tall in in my chair, feeling empowered, knowing this is my truth, knowing this is my life story, this is the path I want.
There is a short silence, and then the words come back “Are you sure you don’t want a family, you have a regular cycle you will be able to have a baby, has your husband been tested?”
My back bends, I feel small and insignificant, almost stupid. Do I know my body? Maybe this doctor is right? Maybe I can have a baby? is this what I want?
I catch myself quickly, as I hear the false hope rise up, I stop it before it balloons out of control.
I know my truth I know my story, I am 38, I have known for 19 years, I can not have children, I am not lying, but why do I feel like I am, why to I feel like a FRAUD.
I felt lost for words, I fell silent, and the consult turned to focus on the mirena coil and it being the best option for me to help stem the heavy bleeding.
(I had the mirena in my early 20’s and it was removed due to the adverse side effects I experienced due to the progesterone going into my system. But that’s whole different story)
I heard my voice ask if they could tell me more, I was going through the motions, I was beaten, I had lost my case, I had come away feeling like I was wrong, like it wasn’t me that been through the tests, and procedures, to be told over and over again you can not have kids.
In the space of 5 minutes I felt shaken to my core, I felt angry I didn’t get the referral, that I had agreed to get a prescription for a medication I am allergic too.
I felt like a complete and utter FRAUD, like a woman making up some elaborate story of being infertile.
Sat here right now, I feel ashamed at the lack persistence, where was my inner warrior, a little child took her place.
In this present moment I am sat sipping peppermint tea, the window open, the air flowing in, I feel connected back to self, giving permission to have patience and compassion towards myself. I know this is not an easy path to tread. It’s full of misnomers, misguidance, misinformation and the feeling of having to prove my truth.
I will make another appointment, and share how I felt and ask how we move forward.
This is not about blaming anyone, especially the doctor that I spoke to. They were doing a great job on the facts that they had immediately in front of them, and they are unknowingly swayed by society’s view of the role of a women.
This is a piece about how we can feel we know our truth but how that can be easily swayed by so many outside influences that others are subjected to and then projected onto us.
Unless you are walking the lesser-known path, how are you to know what it feels like?
It is my truth of hurt and pain over the years; the being told I could, to being told I cant, on a repetitive cycle. How these experiences shape the ones I have to date and the work that goes into making space for myself to journey through them all over again and to regain a sense of self before being able to take the next step forward.
Anotherhood is about being seen and heard, sharing the true stories of us as a community and together raising the volume on our voices, so experiences change and society’s perspective shifts and to be a woman without children becomes normalised.
Thanks for reading