Fertility journeys

You, yes, you. The smug woman who got pregnant without even trying and therefore thinks that it’s that way for everyone. You, the one who had twins naturally and complains all the time. And you, the one who thinks that not having kids is a blessing. All of you shut up.

Image: Gideon/flickr
Image: Gideon/flickr

As much as I may value your opinion, as much as may respect you, I don’t want to listen to you. I don’t wanna see you. For months and months, my heart broke every time I saw a woman proudly carrying her baby bump or pushing a pram. I cried. I wailed. I cursed. I felt broken, useless, less of a woman, a cockroach… a failure. I was grieving for the child that I carried in my womb for 12 weeks, the one that I’ll never meet and seeing other pregnant women made me feel ill.  While some of you made everything look so easy and shared your stories of easy-conception, I struggled. I went to an IVF specialist, drank traditional Chinese Medicine concoctions, took royal jelly capsules, started to eat a pregnancy-friendly diet, visited the GP more times than I would have wished for, enrolled in a yoga for fertility class, and even prayed. I tried not to obsesses, but I couldn’t. After all, there was just one question looming in my head — was my reproductive system defective? You, yes, you, the smug woman with kids –friend or stranger– I hated you every time you told me I needed to take it easy. “Oh, you’re only 35, you’re young, just relax; it’ll happen for you too”. Would you have liked to hear that had you had a miscarriage? Others would say “It’s your fault for waiting so long” or, even worse, “Well, you can always adopt or get a pet”. Who puts adoption and pets in the same category?! Who?! After a few months, many tears, and lots of acupuncture sessions, a little person is growing inside me. I’m over the moon, but I don’t share my joy with everyone. I’ve seen people look at my belly with envy, and that’s OK, I was that woman just a few months ago. I’ve seen others nod in approval and others in disapproval, and that’s OK too. I’ve made my friends cry, and I’m so sorry. I didn’t want to be the smug pregnant lady, but sometimes I really want to talk about my little person. I just promise you, I’ll never tell you to take it easy… or get a pet. A few years ago, before I embarked on my own fertility journey, I thought the word ‘journey’ didn’t really described pregnancy. I was mistaken. Trying to conceive is indeed “an often long and difficult process of personal change and development“. You won’t be the same person after having sex every single day for three months, peeing every 30 days on a stick, getting a negative result, and then having a period — a painful one, the kind of period that reminds you that another month went by and you’re not pregnant. You won’t be the same person after crying yourself to sleep every night for a month or two or more; after accusing your husband of treason because his sperm count is either too good to be true or too low; after hearing your boss say “Wish you were in a different stage of your life?” and not having the guts to reply, “So do I idiot, I just lost a child and am trying to get pregnant again”. Conceiving is a journey, an isolating and solitary one. It could be nice and smooth, turbulent, bumpy, dangerous, even life-threatening… and you shouldn’t let anyone ruin it for you. Have the guts to walk away whenever someone says something that may make you feel like shit — and if it’s me, please forgive me.

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Image: lilmisscakes
Image: lilmisscakes

Memories that have been shushed for ages resurface when one least expect it.

When I was six years old, Mrs M, my adoptive mother, got pregnant. At the time, I was obsessed with Alice in Wonderland and had asked my parents if we could name my sister Alice. Thirty-six years ago, I didn’t know I was adopted and was so ready to become Alice’s big sister.

Mrs M has always suffered from high blood pressure. She had lost two babies. She was 35 and this was her last chance of having a baby. She hoped for a boy, but mother nature had granted her a girl.

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My father the gynecologist


GPs and specialists alike usually commend me on my grasp of medical terminology. They find it hard to understand that a ‘commoner’ can ask them about karyotypes, talk about genes, and show concern about the length of the cervix during the second trimester of pregnancy.

The mere fact that I can utter the word ‘vagina’ and ‘penis’ without blushing is sometimes weird for them. I guess they assume most pregnant women won’t say those words… but how do they expect women to talk about their health and that of their offspring if they can’t even use the correct terminology?

Continue reading “My father the gynecologist”
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