Childless at Christmas
I’m an over-thinker. Always have been. As a teenager I would over-think Every. Single. Thing. Who I was, how I was, why I came to be who and how I was? To the point where I asked my mum if it was possible to self-psychoanalyse, since that is what I felt I was doing. I’ve always spent a lot of time in my own head. I’m not sure if its normal or if it a particular trait of only some. Since I only know what it’s like to be me, I cannot say. It certainly plays havoc in terms of my peace of mind. In fact, it drives me mad, but in difficult moments its where I retreat to and I don’t find it easy to break through the fog it seems to shroud me in.
I wonder if this trait of mine hasn’t made things worse for me over the years. Not only do I need to process things, but in my brain, it seems one round of processing my thoughts isn’t enough. I need to process and process and process until finally I can move on and over-think something else.
The same is true for my infertility. I’ve been trying to come to terms with it, whilst at the same time still fighting my childlessness. It feels counterintuitive. Surely, I’m still fighting infertility. I want to adopt, we are approved to adopt, we will start the New Year hoping to be matched to our little family. How to separate the two, infertility and childlessness, when they have been part of the same pain for so long? How do I learn to accept one whilst finally saying goodbye to the other? I’m finding it really difficult to get my head around the fact my childlessness will end, but my infertility will not. It feels like a contradiction. In the same way that although I will have children, I will also have lost my babies.
The last few days I’ve spent a lot of time in my head. I thought about having been pregnant over Christmas, twice with a single baby, once with twins. The expectation I had that I would have my family by the following Christmas, as is the case with most pregnancies only led to heartache. Everything seemed to trigger me this year. I still struggle with the unfairness of it. I struggle with the thought there was nothing wrong with my babies, they died because my body was trying to protect me from a foreign invader. My miscarriages are still very much seen as an unfortunate medical anomaly by most, not as a child of mine which died. It is still something I want to scream at everyone, that I lost my babies. Real babies. Just as their living breathing children are theirs, my pregnancies were my babies. There was no time during their pregnancy when their babies became more real than mine were. Mine just died.
As part of my over-thinking I also play devil’s advocate for myself, which really only extends the over-thinking rather than being in anyway helpful to me. This Christmas, I started asking myself if having children is still what I really want? I’m so used to being childless. I’m in my 40’s now. I’ve watched whilst everyone else got the dream and I felt the pain would kill me with every loss. But I’m still here. Maybe I should spend my money and time doing what I want, when I want? My whole working life I’ve saved, in order to provide a stable home and life for my family and then also for its creation with IVF. I’ve never been able to travel much but always so wanted to. Should I take this chance now? Waiting for retirement to travel is dangerous game, no one can guarantee how you will age. I’ve thought it, but I don’t want that for me. I’ve fought too long and hard for a family of my own.
I’ve also wondered whether maybe I’m too old and set in my ways now for motherhood? Maybe I don’t have the stamina for the relentlessness of babies anymore? I can’t even have 2 small glasses of wine anymore without regretting it in the morning, or sometimes even already on the night. 10 years ago, I could still polish off 2 bottles to myself and still go to work the next day. This is something which goes round and round in my head a lot, torturing myself as I go. Maybe the fight has taken too long. The happy ending isn’t for me anymore. It’s a young persons’ game.
Heartbreak and loss have a way of altering time. Time slows down when you are in pain almost to the point of standing still. Whilst on the outside, others’ lives seem to continue as normal. Maybe its directly linked to how much time you spend in your head? When I’m in a dark place, I spend more time in my head and feel less able to find a way out. I’ve spent such a long time waiting for motherhood, I’ve spent so many years waiting and wishing and then losing my babies, losing my chance of ever carrying a child. I feel like it’s been my whole life, sometimes I cannot remember a time before pain. What if I don’t know how to not be heartbroken? What if my mind won’t let me?
There is another thought that goes round and round. This fight has dictated my life for so long, what am I without it? How do I become me again? I don’t think that’s even possible. On this quest for motherhood, I’ve lost love. I’ve carried life. I’ve carried death. I’ve felt my soul be ripped from my body. I lost my identity.
This Christmas has been hard. Much harder than I thought it would be. I took myself off social media completely for a couple of days but was still made privy to some of the now everywhere, matching pyjama pictures (why has that become a thing?). I was still heartbroken at seeing images of people with their uncomplicated families. I came back to the community where I find solace, where I feel heard and understood. I read others’ story of hope, joy but also pain and felt a little bit less alone.
I want to start the New Year in a positive frame of mind. I want to leave the battle weary broken me behind, quite aptly in this weird, twilight year of 2020. I want to dive into my motherhood head-first. But I’ve been let down so many times by hope, I’m scared to trust it. What if we don’t get matched?
I want to finish on a positive note, but also want to remain honest and real. I still feel like I’m in a fog just now. I’ve been fighting for motherhood so long. I’ve been wading through heartache searching for a way to soothe my soul since so far back. I wonder sometimes if I’ve lost sight of why. I certainly feel like I’ve lost sight of who I was before heartache, but I will find her. Just as I’ve been learning to forgive myself for my infertility, I will learn how to embrace motherhood, albeit late-onset. I will learn to be the contented mum I’ve dreamt of being.