My body and I haven’t ever really felt like friends.
As a kid I was always taller (MUCH taller) than my friends. Never one to follow norms, I couldn’t be the willowy, tall model-like girl, I was also plus sized. I was bullied for the way I looked, and people made comments daily about the space I took up. Added to the way I appeared, I fought with my body’s health as well. Weird autoimmune stuff started happening when I was a teenager. Random allergies, strange bouts of hives and eczema.
When I was first married, we knew we would have trouble conceiving. I was diagnosed with PCOS, and still had the other autoimmune issues to add. After every loss, like clockwork, 6 weeks later I have more autoimmune stuff to deal with. Each time it gets more intense, and makes me feel like more of a stranger in my own body.
Not only do I have to deal with the mental, emotional, and ‘normal’ physical symptoms of a miscarriage, I have a body that is constantly trying to hurt me further.
The past year and a half, since my last miscarriage in October 2015, my life has completely turned upside down. I can show nurses which veins work best for IV’s. I know more medical jargon than some of the residents who come toting clipboards while making rounds. I have what seems like endless doctor’s appointments, tests, procedures. My body is no longer just a stranger, it’s an active opponent. I am battling to keep my health, and I feel like I’m losing.
With all the utter nonsense going on in my life, my heart still longs for more children. My brain and my habits are so stuck on this TTC journey that I can’t fathom not keeping track of ovulation symptoms, not continuing to try.
So how do you heal when you’ve been told that your fertility journey is done? I don’t know if you can, fully, but I’m trying to.
Not being able to continue doesn’t mean failure.
Infertility and loss is not a pass or fail situation. You do not ‘pass’ if you end up with a child at the end of it, nor do you ‘fail’ if you don’t. You are not ‘giving up’ if you must stop trying, and your journey doesn’t become invalid because of it.
Your body is not an enemy.
It might feel like it, but your body is far from an enemy, it is a gift. There is not a contract we sign at the beginning of our lives that guarantees us a child, and we can’t force one. This body that you feel like you’re stuck in allows you to move through the world. It enables you to connect with other humans (some of which are pretty amazing), hugging them, caring for them, laughing and running and crying with them. This body is not who you are, but the vehicle you take to do what you were sent here to do, whatever that is. Even if it is not what you desire, it’s yours. Be kind to it.
You have fought as hard as you could.
Brave person, you are a tiger. You have not only battled infertility and/or loss, you have had to fight against your very self. You are battle worn, weary and in need of rest. Give yourself permission to heal physically as much as you possibly can at this point, the emotional healing will come along much better if you are comfortable. Rest, and know that the time for war is over and, though it’s hard transitioning, it is a time for peace.
The old season is ending, a new has begun.
I’m not going to fill you with platitudes here, it’s going to be hard moving on. The one thing that might make it easier is knowing that you don’t have a choice in the matter. Yes, you are a victim of circumstance, horrible ones, but any situation can only last so long. It is done. Over. Kaput. While you have the burden of not being able to try anymore, you also have the freedom not to try anymore.
‘New’ isn’t as scary as being ‘stuck’.
I don’t want to live my life with regrets. I won’t hold on to the past so tightly that there is no room for my future. The best thing I can do for my family, present and lost, is to be the best person I can be now, and that means growth. That means change, and new experiences. I want to live MY life, and to me that looks like doing things that scare me enough to get me out of my comfortable box, loving on those who are in my life, and being brave enough to say what needs to be said.
It’s daunting, thinking about how much the heart can take. While our hearts have no limits, unfortunately our bodies do, and coming to the end of what your body can handle doesn’t mean you’ve come to the end of your heart’s capabilities. Far from it.
You will thrive, though it will take time and effort to do so. And you will heal, if not in body, than in spirit. Though it might take work, some of it seemingly impossible, to have closure and peace with the hand you’ve been dealt, it can be done. It won’t be easy, but like the saying goes, it will be worth it.
Jill Kawchak is the proud mama to one truly amazing daughter, the wife of a good man, and a companion of a very troublesome Labrador retriever. Her days are spent homeschooling from the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Cochrane, Alberta, where her daughter constantly begs to go exploring. She had always wanted to be a mother and started TTC just after her wedding in 2006. Jill has been diagnosed with PCOS, and was told motherhood would be a difficult goal to attain, but after 3.5 years of infertility with one early loss, the clouds parted, and the sunshine that was a little girl with blue eyes and brown curls broke through. However, in the years since her daughter arrived, there have been another 4 early losses. After *much* debate, angst and tears, Jill and her husband, Mark, have decided to end their fertility journey and are now focused on ‘what comes next’. She writes to keep sane, and support those who are also experiencing infertility and baby loss.