My feelings have nowhere to go.
My frustration, my longing to hold a baby in my belly, the urge to see those two lines. All this emotion has nowhere to go.
So I thought I’d write about it.
Until you start trying for a baby, I don’t think many women (or men) realise how many things can go wrong.
My husband and I lived an adventurous and full life in Austria. I ran my own business as a Fitness Professional working with expats, he was an executive in a bank. We were happy. I was happy.
In 2017 we decided we were ready to have a family. For us, this mean uprooting our life in Austria and moving to my homeland – Brisbane, Australia. While I loved living abroad, I always knew when the time came to have a family, I’d want to be close to my own family.
If only I could go back and warn myself. I would say:
'This isn’t going to be easy. Get ready to feel emotions you’ve never felt, a grief that sits heavily on your heart and even the loss of friendships.’
We actively started trying for a baby late 2018. I had a check-up with my doctor. She mentioned I needed the Rubella vaccine, and we’d have to wait two months before trying. I got the vaccine, and we waited. At this point, I was in no rush to get pregnant. I thought it would happen when it happened. (Ha, little did I know.)
And I did get pregnant, as it turns out fairly quickly. I started to feel nauseous, so I took a test. Then two more. I was elated, and a bit shocked to be honest. My happiness was clouded by the strong gut feeling that something was wrong. I started to feel a pain creeping into my body.
Within a few hours the pain had gone from strong to unbearable. I had to bite down on a toilet roll to go to the toilet. Yet for some inexplicable reason, I went to work. I couldn’t let my clients down. On the drive, I called my doctor. The earliest she could see me was lunchtime the next day. I saw two clients. I did my job. I didn’t want to face what could be happening. I wanted to be a strong person. I left the gym after an hour and on the drive home I had to pull over twice due to the pain. Then, I put myself to bed.
The sense that there was something wrong now overshadowed any positive feelings I had. So much so that when I told my husband Dominik I was pregnant, I followed it immediately with ‘but don’t get too excited, because I think something’s wrong’.
He couldn’t hide the happiness from his face. For years, he’d been telling me how he wanted children. He tried to calm my fears, saying it might be a normal ‘pregnancy pain.’ He didn’t really know what to say, and was trying to make me feel better. After all, it was a first for both of us.
The pain was so strong when I woke, I called the doctor straight away and she said to come in immediately. She did an internal exam (extremely painful) and said, ‘I don’t want to alarm you, but I think you’re having an ectopic pregnancy’. She told me to drive myself home straight away and get Dominik to drive me to the Emergency Department.
An Ectopic Pregnancy
By the time I arrived, I couldn’t stand. The pain consumed me. They put me in a wheelchair and pushed me past the 20 people waiting. A man did an ultrasound; he said there was lots of fluid in my stomach. I would later find out the fluid was blood. I’d been bleeding internally for 18 hours.
I was sent into another room, with Dominik by my side. Ten nurses and doctors came in. I knew something was really wrong when I saw that many people attending to me. Another ultrasound – this time internal. Again, extremely painful. (Imagine a gaping wound on your leg, then someone sticks their fingers into it. Yeah, it felt like that.)
A doctor explained I was having an ectopic pregnancy. The pregnancy started growing in the wrong place – my fallopian tube. As it grew bigger, it ruptured my fallopian tube and caused severe internal bleeding. I needed emergency surgery to remove my fallopian tube, the blood, and, as the doctor called it ‘the pregnancy’. I found out later, if I had stayed at home much longer, I could have died.
Internally I was such a mess that the surgery took much longer than expected. Shortly after waking, a mental health nurse visited me and asked questions. In a daze and in shock, I don’t think I realised the gravity of the situation. I told her I was okay, and she left.
I stayed at home for a week, I was up and moving after two days. I thought any more time off work was silly and unnecessary. I was so early in my pregnancy, surely, I didn’t need that much time to recover?
A month later the grief hit me like a truck. It came in waves. At first, the waves were so strong they would knock me over. These waves of grief turned me into a person I didn’t want to be: someone who felt sad all the time. Someone who cried a lot. Someone who was jealous of other women’s baby bumps. Sometimes the grief would appear quite obviously. After seeing a pregnancy announcement on Facebook. Finding out a friend’s due date was the same as mine. Talking to clients who wanted to feel fit and strong in preparation for a baby.
Other times it would arrive without reason. For months I would spend my Friday morning drive to work in tears, trying to find a way to stop crying before I had to teach my boxing class. I later found out my due date was a Friday.
I felt like a different person. I was stuck between feeling immense grief and telling myself ‘it’s not that bad, you weren’t that far along’. Even though I’d never say that to another woman, I kept saying it to myself.
We started trying again three months later. After a few weeks of feeling incredibly tired and lethargic, I found out I had a virus. It was recommended not to conceive until the virus was gone. This took six months.
On the same day I found out I was clear of the virus, my doctor told me I had pre-cancerous cells in my cervix and needed surgery. And yet again, we had to stop trying until after the surgery. It was now a year after losing Thomas, and I was frustrated beyond all belief. My body was betraying me.
Around this time I saw a psychologist. She helped me greatly. We decided to name my baby Thomas. Even though it was too early to find out the sex, I just knew he was a boy.
2.5 years on, I still have no baby. I’ve had a miscarriage since then, and other health conditions that have put a stop to us trying.
This journey is incredibly frustrating and full of sadness. It’s a journey that’s changed who I am. And for a long time, I resisted that change. Now I’ve accepted that I have very little control over falling pregnant, and letting that acceptance into my life has allowed me to heal and strengthen my resilience.