So this morning I received a birth notification from a good friend of mine. She is also a psychologist and a truly lovely person. This is her second child and she tried for a while to fall pregnant… She actually had an appointment with the clinic we are now with but as luck would have it she fell pregnant just before the first appointment and was able to cancel it. There was a photo included with the announcement and she looks so happy and her son is perfect.
I hate that this news takes me to such a miserable place, but it does. I feel so sad and then underneath that is a feeling of anger… This whole thing feels so terribly UNFAIR sometimes that I just want to scream!
On top of that I just feel so stuck. As a psychologist I know, and have witnessed, the healing properties of time. Even terrible traumas and losses get better with time. Not this though. This is one of the few things in life that gets worse and worse with time.
About this time last year I discovered that my sister was pregnant. It was a huge shock to her and to me and to our family. She was not in a stable relationship with the father and her circumstances were precarious. It was a completely unplanned pregnancy and she was terrified. I was heartbroken for her, and for me. The irony of her being pregnant and not me was not lost on anyone and the family was very supportive of both of us in the best way that they knew how. Anyway, the family rallied and she was extremely strong and proactive and her circumstances improved. Today we have a beautiful new member of our family, a little girl who has been given my beloved grandmothers name as a second name. She is such an angel. I love her to bits and my sister is in the most stable and happy place that I have seen her in a long time. The dark days of her early pregnancy have passed, there has been healing and change and now things are good again for her.
But I am still in the same place I was the day I found out that she was pregnant. This frustrates me terribly. When are things going to change? I am so utterly sick and tired of feeling this way. I am actually bored by my own self. The obvious answer is that things will change when or if I fall pregnant. But what if I don’t?? I can’t bear to feel this way indefinitely. I know only I can be the agent of change in my life but I really don’t know how to do this differently.
That’s it for today. As a reward for reading this through to the end you get to see a photo of one of my precious fur babies. His gorgeous face always makes me feel a little bit better.
So, there is something spectacularly ironic about being infertile in a third world country. So many unwanted pregnancies as a result of poor education, lack of empowerment and unequal sexual relations.
I do some volunteer work for an organization that aims to support ‘at risk’ pregnant moms in order that they can bond optimally with their infants and therefore foster healthy attachments and prevent a host of psychological problems further down the line. My role at the moment is to help with some of their research by interviewing some of these at risk moms (sorry about the long backstory).
So yesterday saw me interviewing a woman of my age (35), pregnant with her fifth child… Another girl on top of the three she already has. She was really hoping for a boy, who are valued more highly in her culture. She was devastated to be pregnant as neither she nor her husband is working and she has no idea how she will feed this latest child. Her husband is thrilled. She tried to abort the baby herself as she could not afford an abortion… She drank strong tea, coffee and coke as she had heard these were bad for babies. She was on the contraceptive injection and had taken active steps to prevent another pregnancy. Now she has one more mouth to feed and her life, and that of her children, gets that much harder. I wanted to weep.
And it leads me to the constant question of why? Why me? Why her? Why does a couple who have everything to offer a child have no children and a poor, desperate woman who cannot provide for herself, let alone a child, have five? I don’t know the answer. I only know that living in South Africa provides so much opportunity to be grateful for what we DO have. I can be grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly and the opportunity to experience extremely expensive medical procedures in the quest for a child. As much as I long for her fertility, I know I am so much more fortunate than the poor woman I encountered yesterday.
I wrote the below paragraphs as the content for my ‘About’ page (which btw I really hope I have done correctly as I am still trying to successfully navigate WordPress, being a complete WordPress/ blog, novice). Anyhow, I thought it was fitting as my first post, by way of introduction…
I am a 35 year old clinical psychologist from South Africa and have been working with children for the last ten years. I love working with children and families and have wanted my own children since I was about 15 (I’m not even kidding). I am married to a wonderful man who I know will make a great father and we are both blessed to have good and close relationships with our families. When our childen finally arrrive, they will be born into a lot of love. We are both very responsible and so waited for the ‘perfect’ time to start a family…. strong marriage, financially stable, lovely house with plenty of space…. turns out the perfect time for my body would have been about ten years ago, according to my latest doctor (cue heart break).
We have been trying to conceive for two years now. For me though, I feel like I have been childless forever and the last two years have felt incredibly long. I knew early on that there was a problem and we have been under the specialist care of a fertility clinic for 18 months now. It has been a frustrating journey which started with the diagnosis of multicystic ovaries (similar yet different to PCOS), then endometriosis (at which point I had a laperoscopy). We have had numerous medicated cycles (clomid and femara) which were successful in getting me to ovulate but did not result in pregnancy. I then developed hostile cervical mucus (apologies for disclosing too much information but that does seem to be the nature of infertility) as a side effect of the medication. One round of IUI on clomid and femara and one round of IUI with injectables were the only IUI’s that our doctor was willing to do as he felt that our chances of success with further rounds was not good. He recommended IVF. At this point we decided to get a second opinion and I was diagnosed with Diminshed Ovarian Reserve. A huge blow. After raging at the first doctor we realised that regardless of the diagnosis, both doctors are recommending the same treatment and so we have put the first clinic behind us and are having our first round of IVF in my next cycle with the doctor who diagnosed DOR.
I have felt extremely alone at many times during this journey despite having a good support system. There is something so intensely painful and isolating about infertility which is hard to express to people who have not experienced it. It is also such a looooonggg journey and I have become tired of always being in the same place (childless), and always telling my friends and family the same thing. Because of this I have been lurking in the shadows of the blogging world for a while now, finding immence comfort from realising that I am not alone. I have finally decided to take the plunge and start my own blog…. whether we fall pregnant on the first or third (or fourth or fifth….you get the picture), I know that it will be good to share the journey with others.
I initially wanted to call the blog simply, ‘between the lines’. I have never had the pleasure of a positive test, never had the joy of seeing two pink lines, be it a pregnancy test or even an OPK. I long with all my heart to see those two pink lines. In the meantime, I live in limbo between them. Between the lines also encapsulated another dynamic which is relevant to me….I spend my days reading beteeen the lines of the stories of the children and families who I work with, trying to understand what cannot be said or is too painful to express. Unfortunately ‘ between the lines’ was taken and so ‘Waiting between the lines’ was born. I hope to give birth to something a little less one dimensional sometime soon.