It’s exactly five years ago, today, that I peed on a stick, to see whether we were pregnant, following years of “trying” and our first round of ICSI.
I remember waking early, huddling in my parents’ freezing cold bathroom, peeing, then waiting. Waiting for that second pink line to appear. Waiting to see whether our dreams were coming true. Waiting, as it slowly, and heartbreakingly, dawned on me that we still weren’t having a baby.
I often use the word devastation, to describe how we felt at that time, but I was also confused, laden with guilt and grieving. Although I wasn’t aware, at that point in our journey, that I was allowed to mourn this loss.
One thing I do know, is that I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to pick myself up.
It was, a good while later, on a beach walk on the NE coast, during a particularly poignant and somewhat beautiful moment of pathetic fallacy, that I discovered I could. Where the grey, drizzly weather and rough, crashing sea, echoed my mood perfectly and, just as I was experiencing more anger, than I’d known before, more sadness and more despair, the sunshine chose that exact moment to cast out a tiny spark, which burst, unexpectedly, through the gloom. And did so through my darkness too; I wasn’t okay, but I knew, in that moment, that I would be.
And I wasn’t okay many times over, after this first unsuccessful attempt, yet I clung on to that ray of hope, that little bit of light through the isolation, and my newfound knowledge that, whatever life may throw my way, I would, somehow, find the strength to put one foot in front of the other and, once more, feel the full force of the sunshine on my face.
Five years feels like a life time ago, but the memories are still so vivid and, as much as I carry infertility with me, always in my heart, I now also carry strength, serenity and acceptance. Things I’ve only really discovered this year; a year where I’ve truly soared. I’ve learned. I’ve grown and I’ve found peace: It had actually been waiting for me all along, I just needed to reach it in my own time.
Professionally I’ve flourished too. I’ve developed, and worked hard to become a voice, an advocate and a friend. I care, passionately, about each word I write and those who read them. I was never going to write about infertility, but find that’s where my words have taken me, to a place where I raise my voice and shout from the roof tops that IVF is tough, infertility is cruel and miscarriage is heart-breaking. I’m part of a community, a tribe of strong individuals, who stand united together, supporting, fighting and being the true warriors we are; raising awareness, making debates happen and going a hell of a long way to break taboos and change perceptions. And to me, that’s empowering, and I’m proud to hold my head high with these wonderful people, wherever we all are on our journey.
Writing has helped me to heal too.
2018 has been my most freeing year to date. I can breathe again. I trust in life again and I feel a lightness I never knew was possible. I’m aware that the fact I got my miracle must, and will, play a huge part in this, however, I’ve also come to love myself; something I’ve continuously strived for, and only just found. I’ve accepted we’re infertile and the trauma that causes, how it’s a part of me and that I wouldn’t be the person I am today if my journey had been different. And I’ve decided I like the Caro who has emerged. I’m also really, really proud of her.
It was tough. We survived.
It was heart-breaking, yet I still have the capacity to love.
It broke me, but it also made me whole.
It’s made me, me.
I recently read that where there is happiness in life, there’s also the certainty that pain exists, and I’ve seen that, this year, in the lives of friends; whilst some are celebrating, others are mourning, and for that I am genuinely sorry.
So, as this year comes to a close and as the uncertainty of a new era hovers on our horizons, I’m going to leave you with two of my favourite quotes and the wish that whatever 2018 has thrown your way, you will find peace and be able to feel the warmth from your own, unexpected, ray of hope. As Eleanor Roosevelt was known to say; “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams”, which perhaps begins with a tiny spark of sunshine.
And finally, to bring an end to the year that’s been 2018, remember that, according to Winnie the Pooh; “You’re braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think”. And, my dear, dear friends, you truly, truly are.
Much love to you all.