I have been feeling progressively worse recently, its crept over me slowly over the last few weeks. Just a sense of unease. I assumed I was fed up with lockdown, with work, the darkening evenings and the lack of social interaction. I also thought maybe this was the result of having finished and published my book, its been such an emotional and personal piece of work. I’ve really not been great at self-care recently, I just pushed the feeling of unease to the back of my mind.
Its got to a point where I feel I have to address it, for my own wellbeing. I thought about what feelings actually sat in that unease. I realised there was a lot of guilt and sadness and some anger, which initially made no sense, since we are now just two weeks away from Panel. A date I’ve been wishing weeks, months, years away, to get to. A date full of nervous excitement. I have butterflies. This is my chance at motherhood. My only chance. My last chance. I am closer than I have ever been. If I get a yes at Panel then I will be closer to motherhood than even when I was pregnant, which sounds so contradictory.
I have realised that the guilt is probably linked to the excitement. For my motherhood. As if somehow by feeling excited I am betraying my lost babies. That somehow my children will remove their importance, erase them from memory. That these children will also wipe out a huge part of what has made me, me. Childlessness changed me. It shook the core of my identity, I had to dig deep to find myself again. Learn to see me again, try to like who I was through a new lense. I’m still learning to forgive myself. Maybe I don’t want adoption to remove that aspect, the strength I have found buried deep within. The confidence I now have in my resilience. Maybe I feel guilty that adoption will somehow wipe the slate clean, remove my childless grief, erase my babyloss grief and in doing so wipe out well over a decade (closer to 2 now) of focus and dreaming and striving. As if the pain I felt and my lived experience weren’t worth the time I spent on them. Years lost to futile hope.
Or, maybe it’s the reverse, maybe the guilt is that I do still feel sad that I won’t have carried my children and I don’t want my children to ever feel that I regret any element of being their mum, even the bits I didn’t get to do. I still feel sad that I won’t be their only mum. I still feel cut up when I hear pregnancy announcements. I still find it so hard when friends share pictures of their babies, knowing that their journeys were a lot easier and a hell of a lot shorter than mine has been. Maybe mine has been too long? I'm just too broken to appreciate the good. I don't know how to be 'cool' about things anymore, my emotions are messy. Will I still feel that when I have children? I feel guilty about that too, my children should be enough.
I have noticed that I have felt particularly triggered again by posts I’ve seen or conversations I’ve had recently. In fact, I'm feeling almost permanently triggered just now. I've noticed people in my life are also no longer being gentle with me when it comes to pregnancy announcements or talking about babies and fertility. As if now my family is closer, my infertility doesn’t hurt anymore. I’ve spoken before about the assumption from people on the outside, that adoption is a cure to infertility and that now its all going to be ok. There may come a day when it no longer hurts but right now I still feel robbed of a whole part of my womanhood. I’ve had periods from the age of 12, with the one promised outcome, that it meant I would be able to have a child. What with my endometriosis they have not been fun, but the deal with nature was, I put up with those in order to become a mum. I held up my end of the bargain. Therein lies the anger, forming part of my unease.
Maybe the unease is because of yet another loss of self. I’ve become so used to being ‘the one without children’. I’m the one grieving her motherhood, grieving her lost babies. The one who failed. The one who overcame. The one who just keeps going, keeps trying. Keeps fighting. I’ve had to reframe my identity so often over the last few years, maybe there’s a part of me that cannot face needing to do this again, in reverse. To finally welcome my inner-mum into the daylight, after supressing her so brutally before, because her mere existence made mine intolerable. To be the one who is tired because her kids kept her awake rather than her emptiness and grief. To be the one with a busy schedule worked around her children’s needs, not filling time in the ‘Green Room’ of my life, waiting for my turn on the main stage. Always busy in order to not have to feel.
Infertility is so complex. I have been navigating this road a long time and I still don’t have the answers. I have been fighting my reality and mother nature at every turn for years. Its what I do. Its what my mind constantly thinks about. I have become institutionalised by my need for motherhood. So focused that it has governed my every move for years. I just kept pushing for motherhood. What will my quarrel be once I have children? What will drive me every morning with such frightening intensity? Everything has been to this end. Then what?
I am hoping the focus will then be firmly on my children’s needs. That’s what will drive me. It feels almost relaxing (I can feel all the mums out there squirming in anticipation of my rude awakening when the reality of motherhood hits and relaxing is the furthest from what it feels like). What I mean by relaxing is, the denial of my reality won’t be there, therefore the denial of my worth also won’t be there. I may be fighting with children but no longer with myself. Its a subtle difference. The pain of childlessness and the lack of social status that comes with being over 40 and not being a mum will be gone. My identity will finally integrate with my yearning.
I feel scared that I have fought so long for motherhood and that I won’t feel it as I thought I would. What if, and this is the worst thing, I don't enjoy it? Its been all-consuming. It has become what I am about. I’ve always felt I was a mum, its taken so much to accept years of not being one, but not being a good one I think would destroy my heart all over again. I'm scared of feeling happy, as if that somehow leads to everything being taken away again. Its a defence mechanism, which worked for me during my TTC years, but maybe its time to let that go. I'm so scared of being so broken again. Mending a broken soul has taken a lot more than I ever thought. I need to re-learn how to be ok with hope and joy.
Things are (hopefully🤞) about to change 180 degrees for me, or 360....depending on whether you view this as me changing direction or just starting a brand new cycle. What I’ve longed for I shall have although very differently to how I had imagined. As the butterflies are intensifying I realise I need to make time for my emotions, not push them aside to be dealt with ‘later’. I need to forgive myself for how I feel. Infertility has been hard. Triggers are hard. It turns out adoption is a trigger also and I need to forgive myself for that.
I shall pick myself up, dust myself down, work on that wellbeing. I am moving forwards. I shall embrace the excited butterflies and try to relinquish my denial of joy in a bid to protect my heart.
Time to redefine myself once more, this time, as a mum ❤