Feeling Intimate - Fertility Part III

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Feeling Intimate - Fertility Part III

If you haven’t read Part I Getting Intimate or Part II Being Intimate please go and read those first… 

It’s been a while since I graced the pages of my own blog, and in the last post of this series I left you at my realisation that I was jumping ahead in what I thought I desired. Pregnancy before a Period was not what I wanted. So I hit the nature trail in one last attempt to get it back. 

I worked with an incredible acupuncturist for almost 7 months, and while my estrogen levels rose a few points, my disappointment continued to sink with every month that went by without it's proverbial "time". Though I did experience a cycle of sorts. Every month without fail, my mouth began to break out in ulcers. Irritating, but I chose to see it as a good sign. My body WAS cyclical. Ultimately though, my practitioner and I mutually agreed to cease treatment. Once again, it was time to try something else. 

The wall I hit at the end of that 7 months became a wall I hit FULL STOP. I tapped out. I was sick of blood tests, supplements, and appointments. I stopped creating things, pulled back from my business, and assessed the damage to my mental health and my marriage.

I seriously started to question if I even wanted kids anymore. Again, the heartache was not about bearing a child, or even becoming a mother, but about feeling less-than as a woman. I went to some dark places. I allowed it to make me feel alienated, angry, judged, confused, jealous, and inferior to my family and friends.

So many of us share a feeling of “not-enoughness”, and hold our worth to a label or identity (I wrote more on that in this social media post). It’s interesting that we give so much of our worth to how we stack up to a definition, rather than how we simply stack up as a valuable human being. I observed my behaviours and reactions to start taking responsibility for my heartache. I’d have tiny, fragile heart splinters when women around me talked about their periods. I’d get offended by women online who said things like “all of us women bleed” as if they owed it to me to acknowledge that I did not. When a friend chose to tell me privately that they were pregnant, I'd feel both pitied and pathetic yet also humbled to be seen for how it could sting. I’d flush red with both embarrassment and rage when someone would say “you’ll understand when you have kids”, or “you don’t realise real love until you have children”, or “so no kids yet?”. Those words are wounds to women who have lost children, are struggling to conceive, or choose not to have children (for a great article on this read “Things Not to Say to a Women Who Doesn’t Want Children”). When friends wouldn't ask how I was I’d tell myself they didn’t care, rather than admit that I’d never told them how much I was hurting. 

There was a moment one night in a yoga class when I caught myself in the mirror and saw a different woman looking back at me. She was resolute, mysterious, did not take shit, and was not afraid to take a good hard look in the mirror too. She found me staring back and I hoped that this other version of myself was who I was becoming. 

Toward the end of 2019 I decided it was worth poking the little fertility bear again and got all my tests renewed to set a new base line. I felt optimistic that my hormone levels would have naturally increased but it was quite the opposite. I was recording lower than I had ever tested before. After all the delving I had done into the trashy corners of myself, I was handed more trash.

You might be thinking, but why did you care so much if you weren’t sure that you wanted children anymore? Because regardless of all the questions in my head, and the confusion in my heart, I still wanted answers. So I found myself a new Doctor (so far my greatest accomplishment of 2020), sought the help of an Endocrinologist, and set off on another round of tests. If I was given a $1 for every blood test I’ve had in the last 3 years I wouldn’t be worried about my income during COVID19. The pathologists know me by name now. 

Abdominal ultrasound - negative. 

Genetic abnormalities - negative. 

Pituitary function - inhibited.  

I didn’t get too excited as it had become pretty crystal clear that the phone line between my pituitary and hormone production didn’t have a dial tone. But why? The Endo said to me “maybe you just need more weight.” Great, we’re back here again. “But I’ve had a cycle at a lower weight than this?” I quizzed. “You are not where you were then, now. Perhaps there are other stresses in your life that mean at this moment in time your body needs even more from you.”

Well played Endo, well played. 

Of course I’d been told hundreds of times before “just don’t stress about it and it’ll happen”. I would agree and nod every time I was delivered this seemingly simple piece of advice. But let’s be honest, if you’ve ever experienced troubles in the female region you’ll know it’s hard not to stress when every time you go to the toilet you’re wondering what you’ll see. Thanks to all the self reflection I’d been doing I could also truthfully admit the amount of other stress in my life. 

So I was sent for more blood tests and another pelvic ultrasound. As I lay there I noticed the familiar melancholy thought - “this should only happen when I’m pregnant” - but it only visited for a fleeting moment. I was procedurally desensitized. Aside from the game of rigorous hygienic practices thanks to Lady Corona, the scan was uneventful. I was waiting for the next test. The Mexican Standoff between me and an MRI brain scan. Surely this would show what was so fucked up in my head that I wasn’t functioning to my biological instructions? 

While waiting for the day of my scan, my husband and I went on an adventure as COVID restrictions eased for the first time. We went to a coffee shop we’d never been to, shops we’d never visited full of candles, incense, crystals and trinkets, and stopped at the local brewery for some takeaways. I’d needed to pee since the coffee hours earlier, “Is there any way I could use your bathroom real quick?” I asked the guy at the counter.

He sucked through his teeth making that face of “Bad luck, no can do”, but instead said “Since there’s no one else here, run in and use the disabled.” 

I did my thing. Stood up. Turned to drop the precious TP in the bowl. It turned out my Mexican Standoff was right here. There was the sight I had been waiting over 3 years for. No words capture the surprise, disbelief, or excitement that surged in me. 

I checked. And checked again. What the fuck…. 

I broke my face in half with the size of my smile. Holy shit this is really happening. 

As I passed the guy at the counter on the way out I thought to myself “You have no idea what an important moment I just experienced in your bathroom.” 

And that’s where I’m at. Having just finished my first bleed in over 3 years. My fullest bleed in 7 years. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it came with all barrage of fearful (unhelpful) thoughts - “what if I don’t get another one?”, “what if I jinx it by telling people?”, “what if it wasn’t really a period and something else is wrong?”. That’s what happens when you’ve been living on alert. But it also came with long warm baths, ecstatic dancing round my bedroom, buying tampons for the first time in years, singing in the shower with joy, tears with close friends, and a few bad period jokes. 

And I'll be honest, I still don't know if I want kids. There's still work to do on my relationships. But I still had that MRI. And while I lay in that tube I thought “I have no idea when the next one will come, but I am here now as that woman I met in the mirror.” 

* EDIT: I sat on this post for 6 weeks before publishing it as superstition and fear DID get the better of me. "Don't post it until you've had another period in case you jinx it".  My MRI results came back normal. My period came back too. 

During the COVID19 isolation my creativity came alive. Poems flew out of my fingertips. Paintings formed themselves one after another. The irony is not lost on me that in letting my creative force flow, my ultimate biological creative force is now flowing too. Creativity is linked to EVERYTHING, and I believe that now more than ever. 

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