I am a mother. I am simply a mother without a child.
I have all the mothering instincts. I am filled with love waiting to share with my baby to take their little hand and guide them through the world. I am good to go! I have dreamed of being a mother since I was a little girl. I carefully wrapped my dolls in blankets and rocked them to sleep, I imagined what my own children would look like, what their names would be and what our life would be like with them.
For 12 years, my husband and I have been trying for children. It's such a simple aspiration, something so natural. To have a family. When the simple becomes a nightmare, it can take over your life and result in feeling like a total failure. To do the simplest thing, to know that my body is letting me down so badly is hard to process.
Like every young couple, we were filled with optimism of what the future would hold. We have a wonderful marriage and are so desperately in love, so it only seemed a natural step to start to try for a family. The more months that passed I started to get a horrible feeling something wasn't quite right. My cycles were all off and I was suffering terrible pain and side effects each month.
Being in my early twenties, I had to fight to get a doctor to take me seriously. Even when I was referred, the message was very much give it time it will happen. As the months turned to years the tests became more serious and eventually we started treatment. The first time we successfully conceived I was over the moon and terrified all at once, we did it! We were finally going to be a family, until it all went terribly wrong!
There is something so surreal in the moments that surround finding out you have lost a pregnancy, the dwindling conversation from the nurse taking the scan. The quiet in the room then only broken by the click, click, click of the measurements being taken. The slow cold feeling moving from the tips of my toes up to the top of my head, the goose bumps and the desperate moment where I was certain I would scream if the quiet didn't stop. What is wrong with our baby?!
It was over. We were devastated.
Time moved on and mother nature gifted us again only to cruelly rip them from my body each time, leaving nothing but a crippling emptiness. I built a wall protect myself from the losses. Treatment came to an end and we eventually stopped trying.
In 2015 I lost a pregnancy that we didn't know about and it broke me. I was shattered. I felt everything I had worked so hard to hold back, I fell to pieces.
I was surrounded by people who loved me but they couldn't reach me, I felt like I was on an island watching the world from a distance. The pain in my heart was a physical pain and my empty arms ached from never getting to hold my children. I couldn't take any more. It was at this point I reached a moment of clarity.
I had two choices. I could continue on this path of self-loathing, blaming my body for not working correctly, to spiral out into the abyss of crazy town losing some of myself in the process. OR......OR..... I could decide to move on and find a life for us that didn't include children.
I chose the latter.
It was one of the hardest processes to go through, I thought I would never feel truly happy again.
If I was to talk to myself from even five years ago I would never believe in a million years I would be OK with not having children. That the girl who would often be found hiding in the toilets from work colleagues bringing in their babies, crying wondering when it would be her turn. That girl would never believe I would get to this point, it seemed impossible. But I have and I am still standing!
I started to focus on the things we could do, the things that make us happy. We travel a lot. I have taken up photography, museums, cocktails in the middle of the day, all those little things that perhaps we wouldn't be able to do so often with children.
Will I ever not feel the ache of wanting a child so badly? I don't know. It's so deeply in my heart I don't think it will ever leave me, but I can see a light at the end of the tunnel now. I have found my smile again!