[Trigger warning: baby loss]
I knew I wanted to be a mother at the age of 18.
Coming from a large African family, the perceived importance of “to have as many children as possible, as many children as possible, as young as possible” is a story ingrained in the minds of girls throughout the diaspora for centuries now. While I can’t deny that “family duty” has certainly played a role in my quest to have a family of my own in the past, there is just something about being able to bring something beautiful that I made into this world to be raised and loved. And watching them go out into the world, it always got me excited. possibility of being able to create something perfect; Someone who loves unconditionally.
I’ve always been an incredibly mother, and my primary goal has always been being a mother, which explains why the possibility of knowing I might be infertile or suffer from losing a baby is one of my biggest fears. A few years ago, it seemed like the possibility of motherhood loomed large for me because I had been in a long-term relationship and things seemed to be going well. Two months before the end of that relationship, I found out I was pregnant and in those precious moments of staring at that pregnancy test, it seemed like the stars were out. I remember feeling unsteady bewildered on my feet from the shock of it all. I cried and cried for hours in disbelief at what I was seeing. Moy?! A perfect mother, you know. There were not enough adjectives to express my absolute happiness with the news. A trip to the doctor confirmed that I had already been gone for 10 weeks.
Unfortunately, after about 10 days of confirmation, that joy was interrupted because I lost my baby. An event that I have been able to successfully suppress and have mostly kept to myself until now. While I don’t feel the need to go into every detail about what happened, in that moment I felt like a complete failure. I felt as if I had failed to attain the level of a head of femininity. Of course we know that being a mother is not the complete end of being a woman. We know that we as women were not put on this earth solely for the job of “reproduction”, but in those moments of loss, I confess feeling like I failed as a woman and because of that, I may have been less of a woman. I hated my body for my failure.
From that moment on, even though I didn’t receive any confirmations from my gynecologist or had any tests done, I was convinced that I was infertile. Knowing that my weight could potentially have an effect on losing a baby (although there was no evidence at the time to confirm this) reinforced this idea of infertility, because we know that weight can sometimes affect pregnancy.
Losing a child for me meant losing all hope. I particularly grieved for years while suppressing the news, refusing to tell anyone out of fear that I eventually had a nervous breakdown. My greatest fears came true and this – along with the final breakdown – filled me with an immense amount of pain and heartbreak that could not be dealt with at once. So I decided to split the loss and focus on the grief over the end of the relationship because of the two, it seemed the easiest to deal with emotionally.
For years I have lived in a pit of self-loathing; Angry, wounded, heartbroken and angry at my body for taking the one thing I’ve always wanted. I decided that perhaps I was never meant to have children, and so I let my mind take in this novel deeply and come to terms with the idea that I was infertile.
The narrative only strengthened when I found out I had fibroids that same year. After being taken to the hospital in excruciating pain, I was told that not only did I have 6 orange-sized fibroids, but one was sitting on my ovary, and the other had ruptured, which is the cause of the pain. I was told the usual things doctors would say to plus-size women in those moments: “It’s your weight”, “Maybe you should lose weight”, “You can have a hysterectomy to remove the fibroids but you will need to lose 8 stones first”, “If you lose weight” You’ll feel better, etc.” I don’t know why I didn’t talk about the subject of alleged infertility at the time, but in those moments all I heard was “Your fat body is the main and only reason your reproductive system is so dirty – you should feel embarrassed about yourself”.
And so the shame continued. I felt like I had nothing to live for anymore, so what’s the point of anything? What is the point of dating or getting to know someone? Or get a mortgage? Or saving? It was an incredibly distorted method, and in retrospect, I see now that I was living for motherhood and nothing else. Every part of my existence focused on the fact that I thought I was unable to have children because I didn’t deserve them, and even a few months ago it was a huge emotional burden I had been carrying for years. prevented me from living.
Looking back, I’m not sure why I wasn’t doing this sooner, but I decided to take a fertility test so I could at least “confirm” my suspicions of supposed infertility. I suppose I convinced myself that because the idea of hope was something I didn’t want. The idea of the unknown has always been frightening to me, and I believe that deep down, in order to control my feelings about my greatest fear in advance, I wanted to be able to turn off any idea of my fertility so that I could. Somehow, I continue to live my life without the painful notions of hope and uncertainty floating around me forever.
I made an appointment at London Bridge Women’s Clinic back in March, and after filling out a massive medical and lifestyle form, I was all booked. The process consists of two parts: the tests, and a subsequent consultation a week later in which the test results will be revealed. To say I was tossing a stone would be an understatement of the year. I got to the clinic and was very submissive comprehensive A pelvic exam (also known as a vaginal exam) where the nurse was able to look at the ovaries and uterus.
I did not allow my eyes to leave her face, as I stared at her for any impending glances of uncertainty or worry on her unsentimental face. “Ah yes, you have some fibroids here, do you want to take a look?” gently ask. I started having fibroids scattered around my womb and suddenly burst into tears, hating my body again for allowing these strange tumors to invade my womb and robbing me of the chance to have a baby. The nurse was kind and showed a lot of sympathy, before telling me that the fibroid in my womb was actually harmless and didn’t/won’t affect fertility in any way.
I will not lie. 0.01% of the shade that set up shop in my heart faded upon hearing that. After taking the test, I took a blood test and went on my way to wait for my fate. A week later, my consultant gynecologist called me and I was in my living room next to my desk, pen and paper in my hand, breathing once every 30 seconds, my heart pounding on my chest like a hummingbird’s wing. This was. I just knew I was about to get the confirmation I’ve been suspecting all along.
“The anti-Müllerian blood test came back normal, which means you have an elevated ovarian reserve. Ovaries are also normal and healthy. The fibroid on your ovary is well in place, which means it doesn’t affect ovarian or egg production because it’s very small so don’t worry about it. If you’re looking to have kids, I’d probably say you have until about 39/40 before you start making serious decisions, but right now, you have a lot of good, healthy eggs. You are not sterile. “
Once again, I let the tears flow. That wasn’t the news I was expecting to hear, and in this way, the dark cloud that had enveloped my heart just vanished, just like that. I felt light. I felt kinda new. There was something a little shadowy about how surprised the doctor was at passing the news to me, as if he was surprised that someone as big as me could be so fertile. As if all obese women are incapable of having children. Of course as a doctor, I understand he felt it was his duty to tell me about my weight and how that might affect things if I was going to become pregnant, but the assumptions and his tone of voice were incredibly frightening and not appreciated.
Since March, my priorities have changed.
Do I still want children in the future? naturally. But I no longer have the cloud of despair surrounding me, nor do I feel the need to rush myself. I practice more kindness and patience with myself these days, and I try to live more in the moment. I know that even if I don’t find a partner, I still have options to get pregnant naturally and when the time comes I feel ready to get pregnant I can make the necessary adjustments and preparations for that ahead of time. I finally feel in control of my future and my body again which means I can focus on the things I want to achieve in career and lifestyle without feeling the need to rush myself. I learn to live in the present rather than constantly watching the future. I am learning to take better care of my body, hoping that one day it will be able to house a little one of my own.