Back to life… back to infertility

(Or: Maybe it’s easier not to have hopes and dreams, but we do.)

(Title to the tune of Back to Life)

The eagle eyed among you will have noticed I’ve been on holiday. In total I was away from work for three weeks. I had the operation (fibroid removal) and was off for a week, and then we popped off to the good ol’ US of A for our two week holiday. An escape from reality. An escape to the place where every day is happy – and it was. That holiday was what we promised ourselves we would do if our first round of IVF didn’t work out.

It did work out… and then it didn’t.

(I’m writing this with patchy internet connection so can’t easily post links, but I have lots and lots of ramblings on various related subjects that will provide some context – if you click on the links to the top or at the side… or if you just want pictures of food then click on my holiday blog – just scroll back a couple of posts!)

I had a miscarriage in July and it was one of the worst moments of my life. All that hoping, wishing, waiting – gone. Hopes dashed. Little heartbeat, gone. No-longer-an-aunt-but-finally-a-mum, gone. (Back to making success through work – a goal that’s bound to lead to disappointment.)

And the worst of it is that after around 15 years of infertility, or pretty much all my adult life suspecting or slowly coming to the conclusion that it wasn’t just a suspicion, I really was infertile, and then the trauma of a failed relationship – it’s not like I had hope in the first place. I didn’t let myself get my hopes up.

What happened after that – getting out of a long long term relationship, and finally finding someone who really wanted to have kids just like I did – getting an appointment to put a name to this fact of not having kids, and realising that what I was was infertile (I never really called myself that until recently; I just didn’t have kids… I was just Not A Mother… I had no words) – the best and worst of that is that it gave me hope.

Adoption, infertility and hope

I liken this to some of the mushed up feelings I have about adoption. I think I’ve never longed to meet my first family in the same way as some adoptees do. I don’t think about it a lot, because it never seemed like an option for me. I came from another time, a time when being unmarried was a good enough reason not to keep a baby. I came from another country, a country whose language I don’t speak. I look different but so much of my growing up narrative was about being almost-the-same-just-looking-different so I never really tried to keep a hold of my birth culture. 

It’s National Adoption Month this month. There are many adoptees online speaking out against the celebratory tone of it, wanting to #flipthescript. In England, where I am… They’re quiet. We aren’t really like that in England. (We ethnics know our place. Don’t rock the boat. Don’t mention boats. Just be as British as you possibly can and hope they don’t notice your hair or your tan.)

I came from the idea that babies were tabula rasae, blank slates. Sure, I might look a bit different and all, but it’s not like I ever had the chance to grow up or learn or be attached to my birth culture. I think in most people’s eyes (my friends and family) my [other adopted] sibling and I are “basically white” and/or “colour doesn’t matter”. I’m sort of torn between the whole yes it does bloody matter… you don’t see it because you’ve never had to! and a kind of British horror at all the anger and pain that’s displayed on some of the adoptee groups and postings. I can’t relate to that kind of anger, but then my original birth certificate isn’t denied to me, and my citizenship was all done and dusted thirty-odd years ago. 

Unless the British National Party (a racist white supremacy group with political aspirations) stops being a laughing stock and gets into power, I am not about to be sent home to my country of birth (a country I don’t know or speak the language of) any time soon. So yeah, they are angry, and rightly so. My ambivalence is no reflection on those whose basic human rights are denied, and who as adoptees have fewer rights than transgender people (who have the right to change their birth certificate to be declared their chosen gender rather than their birth gender – I say this not to denigrate transgender people but to illustrate that they have more rights to alter their birth certificates against what actually happened than adopted people do to find out their original identities – doesn’t that seem a bit crazy?).

I guess maybe I’m more British than adopted, because I certainly don’t go around feeling adopted all the time. I know I look different, the same as my black and ethnic friends look different, but it’s just one facet of their looks. Nobody expects anything particularly different of any of us. We do as ethnic minorities (“people of color” in the US) have societal expectations and stereotypes we rail against. As females, doubly so. But we all have our ****. I deal with it because I have no choice but to suck it up as I’ve done all my life and the little choice that I do have is to choose not to spend my life angry or disappointed or longing for what I don’t have. Or maybe that’s some kind of borrowed privilege from growing up in a relatively affluent environment, I don’t know.

I’m very clear that I’m not white. It comes to me in various ways, pretty much puctuates every day of my life. I got back from holiday and I did a full working week and then I did my duty trip. My duty trip was to get up early on my first weekend off (with jet lag, oh poor me) and trek across London to see my new niece, who was born whilst we were away. And you know what? I had total resentment, and I sent a few ranty Whatsapps on the way, but when I got there an hour and half later, the anger dissipated.

My brother has always had everything. He’s white, he’s good looking, he’s by any assessment an alpha male. He found his girl and stuck with her. They got married and now they have their two children, a boy and a girl. DING DING – JACKPOT! They life in a massive house in London in a way nicer area than our dodgy area. Throughout our lives he’s been the successful one, despite being less clever than me, despite not achieving anything like I achieved academically (though he was good at sports, which is all you need to be at a British public school to ensure lifelong acceptance). 

But you know what? He’s a nice person. I have to separate a resentment of White Privilege (Why does everything come so easy to him? Why does he still achieve success even though he did less than I did at school, achieved worse education, isn’t as smart?) from the fact that he can’t help nice things happening to him just because he’s the default colour and gender. He had no choice about that just like I have no choice. I had all these thoughts traveling to see them and then – poof! They disappeared.

Because to me he’s family. And he thinks and treats me like any of his (three adopted/not adopted) siblings. And he isn’t smug about it (much!) and he’s accommodating and I genuinely don’t think he really thought about the whole birthday/christening thing. (See previous post: My selfish brother. He got completely harangued by the rest of my family and they’ve cancelled it till next year. Which is nice although possibly related to their own organisation and not me.)

I got there; I was welcomed. I played with the nephew and spoiled him with toys like any self respecting aunt does. It was fine. I don’t want to do it every weekend, but as smug parents go it was fine, and he’s family, and there’s no point resenting my nephew (or new niece) as a) he’s very cute, and b) he’s only got one Aunt Nara, and who wants to be the least favourite aunt?

It got me to thinking, though. I call it:

Everyday life with infertility

Visiting my new niece – Getting up early on the weekend and with jet lag, because people who have kids can’t travel and you always have to go see them. Hanging around the children’s department in John Lewis and trying to pick out something that the kids will love. Feeling like a fraud – no pregnant belly. Just a flabby post holiday one. Watching the perfect family – all grown up even though he’s younger than I am.

Being asked about plans to have children – We went out for lunch with some friends at the weekend – another couple. No kids. They have been going out less than a year but are dying to move in together and have lots of children (she has a bunch of sisters – she’s in a big Italian family, like I imagine Joey on Friends). Literally the last two times we have met up, she has asked about our plans to have children. I like her, and I excuse it because she obviously doesn’t know about infertility in her family(!) and also I don’t want to cause a scene. But it hurts. I just say “maybe” and move on. 

Being assumed pregnant – I still can’t quite talk about what happened at work a while ago but it involved an annoying woman at work actually asking if I was pregnant. I wanted to punch her. Instead I said no and then told it in a typically Nara funny-sarcastic anecdotal way to anyone in the office who would listen… Mainly to prove how nuts she is. Although I do think, seriously, you need a good slapping. (*British turn of phrase… No actual violence intended. On record.)

And finally… Everyone else is pregnant – The everyday insult for infertiles. We just can’t escape them. On the tube, flaunting their bellies and Baby on Board badges. Even on here, even for people who want them and I’m happy for them, I really am… Will it ever be my turn? Maybe not; maybe never.

So yeah, I’m back to life. And you know what? Lots of it is going pretty well. I got back to work and a lot seemed to have happened in my absence, and that has worked out for me. Sometimes I’m just waiting for work and it can be frustrating, or have too much work and am stressed out, but I now have a pretty good new project. I’m grateful for that. We have our appointment for IVF #2 in a couple of weeks. We’ve just had the holiday of a lifetime. We have money in the bank. 

Maybe it will all happen at once. Maybe my ex will finally settle and T and I can buy our own house. Maybe I’ll get a nice project after this one and be able to spend more time at home with Dog. Maybe our second round of IVF will work, or maybe it won’t work but we’ll do that thing of getting pregnant naturally. (It happens, as any of your fertile friends will tell you!)

Maybe baby.

Maybe…

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19 comments

  1. TryTryAgain

    Welcome back! Sorry that you had to come back to reality with the bump of meeting your new nephew, but glad you managed it ok. You always feel like everyone is watching you in those situations, or at least I always do.

    The waiting is the sh*t part in all of this as you say, the waiting and the uncertainty. You can’t describe to people who’ve never been through this just how painful it is. I’m glad that IVF round two is on the horizon, having that to aim for can hopefully keep you going a little after such a great trip. I’ll be keeping up with you and hoping for happier times ahead. Lots of love xx

    Like

    • Nara

      Thank you. It was my old nephew and my new niece! And the other thing is, you get forced to hold the baby All The Time! Still… I’m used to it. It’s just a bit of a cold reality check when you’ve been off work for three weeks… Anyway how are you? Are you feeling well? Thanks for your well wishes! Xx

      Liked by 1 person

      • TryTryAgain

        D’oh – sorry!! 😦 but glad you’re doing ok. I’m with you on the reality check, especially after you’ve been somewhere as amazing as you had!! I’m ok thanks, just trying to stay calm until my NHS scan tomorrow, so hoping for good news after all the scares over the last few weeks, fingers crossed xxx

        Like

      • Nara

        I am rooting for you for the scan! It’s all gone great so far right? So no reason to think otherwise. Looking forward to hearing the good news xx

        Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Thank you! It’s been amazing really. Any part of the holiday would have been excellent on its own so I have been really have been spoiled! Yeah, I can’t quite believe IVF #2 is on the way. I am going to remember not feeling sick/bad/PMTlike as I feel now as I know what’s in the future this time – eek! X

      Like

  2. mamajo23

    Welcome back. Holding so much hope for you in this next round of IVF! It sounds like you are dealing with this hard time the absolute best you can. Xo

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My Perfect Breakdown

    I’m glad you really enjoyed your vacation and that you seem to have a good attotude abiut coming back to reality and daily life. It’s not easy waiting and wantit and being constantly faced with reminders of what you don’t have and what you so desperately want. But my friend, I am always amazed at your grace with dealing with these hard situations and I just hope soon enough you will have your own little one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Well I’m not sure my attitude is that great… I think it’s just a necessity! I wish I could be on holiday every day, but then I would probably be the size of a house if I stayed in Orlando! 😂
      I do have my moments of ranting at the unfairness of it all. I really do a lot! But I try not to take it out on people (I just message my BFF or tell T!)… I have enough social faux pas not to add horrible jealousy and anger into the mix! I’m hopeful that #2 is the one!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. circumstance227

    During my 11 or 12 years of infertility (actually it was more, but the rest of the years don’t count), the absolutely worst thing was not seeing babies everywhere or visiting friends and relatives with their newborns, it was all the people who gave me well meaning advice. That’s why you won’t ever get any from me.
    I will say, though, that I am always glad to see it when you post something new and I like the way you are living your life, despite troubles and deep disappointments.
    And you have totally changed my opinion of Disneyland!

    Like

    • Nara

      Oh gosh yes. Funnily enough I had a sort of disagreement on FB about this today. One of my FB friends (an old guy – so you expect a bit of cantankerousness!) had a big rant about another friend. I might post about it actually but it was along the lines of he was angry that she hadn’t taken his advice. Sometimes I want people to shut up!
      It’s really nice of you to say that… I’m just living life the best I can and I cock up all the time! Seriously I berate myself internally a lot, but I get over stuff quick (mainly because I’m lazy and can’t be bothered to hold onto things!).
      You so need to take the girls to Disneyland! Really. It is what they say – it is magical. Orlando of course is Disney WORLD! It’s massive compared with the others. But whichever you’re closest to, you should go to. (Our closest is Paris and we go there every December to soak up the Christmas atmosphere!) I love Christmas too!

      Like

  5. ashleykyleanderson

    I think one of the worst parts of infertility is that you never know when or if it will end. It could last for two years or two decades. When it comes to IVF you could get pregnant on the first try or the tenth. And there is just hardly any rhyme or reason as to why it ends with a baby (or several!!) for some or without for others. How many other difficult situations in life are even like that? If you lose someone close to you, it is one massive wound that should eventually start to heal over time… but if you go through infertility, the wounds just get bigger and worse overtime. Anyone who believes that “time heals all wounds” has clearly never dealt with infertility.

    It’s tough to keep fighting when you don’t know how long the battle will last or what it will take from you. You guys have already been through a lot and I want you to know that I really admire your strength. If there was any way I could share some of this burden with you so that it wouldn’t lay so heavily on your shoulders, I would do it in a heartbeat. I can only hope that this is the last battle you have to fight to have your precious rainbow baby in your arms this time next year. xx

    ps. I know you will just say “oh it’s okay, I’m fine really” because that’s what you always do after opening up about something that has hurt you, but it’s okay to not feel “fine” about it!! You don’t have to be so damn British all the time!! 😉

    Like

    • Nara

      Ah, you know me too well! 🙂 I think I am too British, haha. (Ironic n’est-ce pas?)
      It is really odd thinking about it and the idea that it might potentially end. As I mentioned in the post, I don’t think I really understood I had an infertile identity until much much later, I mean probably until we started looking into treatment / or even started IVF. Before then I just didn’t have children. But nobody really talks about it. This whole blog world was a total mindbender. For the first time there were people who thought about it and talked about it!
      It’s weird to think one day we might have a baby because I’m sure when you do, the whole infertility thing seems like a bad dream. But maybe there will never be an end to it? In which case I guess our lives would be a bit like they are now. Generally happy. Like… I know it sounds strange when we want it so much, but I still think we could be okay without kids. But it would set us apart from many of our friends, and I guess as people get older they have less going out time and more doing similar stuff to their friends time… so when our friends are going to the children’s playground and baby swimming classes and after school clubs, we will just have much the same life as we have now. (With a houseful of dogs, if T gets his way! I’m happy with the one who has attention lavished on him!)
      I guess that’s the thing though…You can never tell what is going to happen. All you can do is look back later and see how far you’ve come.

      Like

  6. stealingnectar

    Will try to catch up on these all but may take a while…loved this one, like usual. Being the one without a baby is tough in all the usual ways no one thinks about except the ones going through it. It’s therapeutic reading your thoughts on it. I am glad the baptism got postponed. Really happy about that for you! Anyway, Much love to you and very nice to catch up on what I has been going on in your world!

    Liked by 1 person

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