Sunday, 23 March 2014

Day 58, The Issue of Fertility

Endo 365

Me again, I started this blog still on the plane and am finishing it now on the beach with a mojito, life isn't so bad eh?

One of the only things (infuriatingly) ever promoted about endometriosis is that it is the biggest cause of infertility. This is a scary fact. It is something that has been on my conscious and many more like me, probably as soon as we were diagnosed. Ten years ago 40% of women with endo could not conceive, today it has dropped to 25% of women and medicine is advancing at such a rate we really never know what the future holds. Initially reading online  about women who wanted to kill themselves because they were in so much pain every day and their husbands had left them because they couldn't have children is never nice, especially when the thing at the epicentre of her troubles is something you have in common: endometriosis.

This is a heavy subject, so I shall start with a light anecdote:

One one of my many teary meetings with my gynaecologist (that department must go through SO many tissues) my mother and I were putting forward our heartfelt urge for him to open me up and see where my endo had grown since my diagnosis because- and I quote- "I (sob sob) am becoming increasingly worried (sniff sob sniff) about my (deep breath) fidelity issues" 

I was a little shocked when both he and my mother burst out laughing with him replying: "I cannot guarantee your fidelity but I can help your fertility." 

For those of you like me who didn't know the difference:

Fidelity: Sexual faithfulness an loyalty to a partner.

Fertility: The quality of being reproductive.

Typical Alice, I have never got the two mixed up since.

I hate admitting this as a (not so) closet feminist however the thought of being infertile left me feeling robbed of my role as a woman. I was only 15! Likewise, I questioned whether anyone would ever want to marry me incase we couldn't have children. You sane readers will be pleased to know this is no longer my school of thought. Not that no one will want to marry me (I unsure whether there is anyone crazy/ brave enough) but that I don't feel stripped on my femininity because of this condition anymore.

Knowing me I probably couldn't even spell 'infertility' back then. And it would certainly be a decade before I let anybody even try!

The more and more I advertise endo in my life, women come to me with tears in their eyes giving me great big hugs. They then reveal that they have/ had endo and they were told they would never have kids, and went on to have 5 strapping boys. And so on.

It is true, that unfortunately some women with endo will be infertile, however that is not everyone and not if it is caught early enough. That is why we need a qucker diagnosis time, women are being left baby-less due to incompetence and that is just not acceptable. 

Now as the eldest and most protective sibling of the Smith clan, those close to me know how much the thought of being infertile destroyed me. Naturally I am very good with babies but I am unfortunately far more withdrawn now when holding them because sometimes it still hurts. People would attempt to try and pasify me by saying 'they're is always adoption or IVF, or Surrogacy.' Which is true, but at the time I secretly would think I don't want any of that. It is selfish but I believe it to be a case of 'you want what you can't have.' I wanted to have my own child, to see my husbands eyes reflected in the face I made. I want to feel my baby grow inside of me.

But these thoughts are poisonous, dangerous and the least productive thoughts you can allow to linger in you conscious. Do not allow these deamonds find a home: it is beyond heartbreaking. Until we try, no expert in the world can say conclusively: mirricales happen every day. And do not let anybody tell you any different or think any differently because we still do not fully understand this disease, it is not an exact science. That is one of the bonus' to our lack of knowledge, in some very minute ways ignorance is bliss.

However it is really lovely to have friends that dead seriously say they would be a surrogate mother for you in a heat beat. And mean it, that is possibly the most special thing you can ever o for a person, so thank you, you little angels. 

Rationally, when I began to listen to my mother, I realised that my fertility is ALMOST defiantly fine a) because the consultants said so, (thats quite a good one) b) because my endo was diagnosed and treated early enough (still tool two and a half years) c) we don't know what the future holds, medicine will be so much more advanced- who knows, by the time I get round to having babies there may be a cure for endometriosis. 

And d) Something very special happened to me in February 2013- I was on a school trip, touring the north of India. We were in Dharmsala, on the Tibetan border in the Himalayan Mountains. We visited the Dalai Lama's monastery, walked through the sacred mountains and finally, visited his school for orphans and Tibetan refugees who would never again be reunited with their family. When I saw these children, toddlers and babies without a mummy, without a place they could call their home, I could not stop silent tears rolling down my cheeks. I really am not a cryer, so these gentle drops were a strange sensation to me; I felt like a wight had been lifted.

I had an astonishing realisation that these beautiful, precious children need what I want to give. I felt such love for them that I realised it doesn't matter whether they cary my genes or not. This realisation brought such gushing relief, for the first time since I read those poisoned blogs, I realised I would be okay. As long as there are children in this world that need a loving home, I will be fulfilled as a mother. The rest is science.

But this takes time and is your own journey (I had that word) to realisation I wish everyone could feel my relief, I with the younger me knew what I do now.

Of course there are horror stories out there, but do not go looking for them because that is their story, not yours. It is your duty to yourself to ensure you have the best treatment. That is all. You give yourself the best chance, eat the right things, remain happy, and the rest will take place. For all we know, we may be perfectly fertile but our husbands may not be. You cannot predict or manufacture the future. 

It is important to bare in mind there is always choice, there is always a solution. 

Be easy on yourself, look after yourself and live with hope as your secret weapon

All my love,

The ever fertile Alice XXX

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