I wasn’t sure about sharing my story. Most people share once they’ve achieved their happy ending, it provides hope to others. I wanted to share mine, to provide that hope, but my happy ending is still en-route. I hope it can still provide some comfort, or support to others who may be in the same place
My path has been long and winding and taken many turns I didn’t expect. It has been heartbreaking and I have struggled at times to find hope again and carry on. The goalposts were constantly shifting. My dream of motherhood seemed to just get further out of reach.
From my earliest memories, I knew I was a mum. Its who I was destined to be, its what I could relate to. I would have children. The rest was all rather sketchy and changed over the years, marriage was never a massive priority, although it would be nice to be asked, career, yes I wanted one, but what exactly? But motherhood was never, not once, in question.
The truth is, infertility and recurrent miscarriage is a painful and emotional rollercoaster journey, filled with an endless whirlwind of hope, despair and grief. It requires strength and resilience and often compromise. You have to deal with your pain and also deal with the judgements of others, who have not struggled. Who do not understand the difference between not having children and childlessness. Its a hugely painful difference. The perception that if you are in your late 30’s or 40’s with no children, and you didn’t chose this, then you did something wrong, you put your career first, you were too selfish, you wanted to travel, wanted your own life. Or, if you have suffered some sort of infertility, then perhaps you’ve just not tried hard enough, or didn’t relax enough. Somehow you are to blame. This perception is wrong, but only by sharing stories will this be changed. Since the perception is generally from those who have not trod the path of infertility.
I have now lost 7 babies through miscarriage. I have had every test going in the UK, there is no evident reason. I have only one working ovary due to endometriosis damage, a very low egg count in my remaining ovary and age is not on my side. The dream of having my own child has been fading, but I was not ready to let it go. I held on, too long perhaps. After my last miscarriage in January last year, I finally accepted that me carrying a child was probably not going to happen. I looked into alternatives. I considered egg donation, it had come up previously when my eggs did not respond to IVF drugs, but they had always kicked in at the 11th hour to provide 2-3 eggs. My worry was, since there was no reason for my miscarriages, it was impossible to know if it was something within my body or the baby’s. Egg donation could then also lead to miscarriage. Could I really put myself through that once more?
The other options were surrogacy and adoption. I joined a surrogacy site to find out more. Apparently you cannot advertise in the UK, you have to wait to be asked. That felt like such pressure. It can also end up costing quite a lot and there are no guarantees. But isn’t having a child a gamble anyway? That shouldn’t matter if I really wanted a baby should it? What if we went through all of this and the surrogate miscarried, or worse yet, wouldn’t give up the child? From what I’ve seen on the Surrogacy UK site, this is rare if you go through them. The women there seemed to genuinely want to give hope to families who could not conceive. However, something wasn’t quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Perhaps I still hadn’t let go of having my own child? I have found pregnancy exceedingly difficult to be around since having miscarriages. Perhaps its the idea of being close to a pregnant woman, even if she is carrying a child which would be mine?
We signed up to a social event to start building connections and potentially find a surrogate. On the morning of the event, my partner and I got ready, then we looked at one another and both said we didn’t really want to go. It felt like a sign, perhaps this wasn’t for us? I cried that day, was I letting go of my dream of motherhood, why was I not grabbing this opportunity?
I had already considered adoption, years ago, when I was single, so it felt more familiar in a way. Initially I looked into foster to adopt, where you become a foster parent to a newborn, then when the court agree the child should go up for adoption, you can then become their adoptive parents. However, its high risk, what if the baby has to go back? Could I bear losing another baby? Apparently this also means that you have to wait quite some time before being able to adopt another child. I am done waiting! Then I just mentioned to the social worker that maybe a sibling group would work? I’m not really sure where that came from, but it just made sense.
For a long time my head knew this was the answer, but my heart couldn’t fully commit. Slowly my mindset has been changing. I started to realise what I wanted was to be a mother. I wanted the every-day, the caring for little beings, the sleepless nights, the smiles, the giggles, the tantrums, the school runs, the family days out, the Sunday dinners, the Christmases. The full shebang. To make a family. It didn’t matter how. I started to think my babies are out there. They are waiting for me and I’m wasting time grieving for what I have lost.
Slowly I have shifted from heartbroken, to impatient. I just want to meet my children and the waiting is too long. We’ve had some set-backs, we are not allowed to continue with the process until we’ve finished the work on the house. I resent waiting, making my children wait. I’m here and I want to be with them, they are alive and well and I need to be their mum.
I’m Nicole. By day I’m a Change Manager but in the evenings I’m a counsellor, with a hope to one day making a permanent switch. I live with my boyfriend, my cat, Matilda and my dog, Chloe. We are a great little family unit but we are still missing a vital component – children. I have found infertility and miscarriage to be a very lonely place.. A lot of my journey has involved burying what was happening to me and pretending I was ok, during some of the most painful experiences of my life. I became good at styling out heart ache. I felt I had nowhere to go with it and often, no right to experience it. I really want help others who may feel the same way, to offer support and understanding, but also to open up communication and increase awareness.
If anyone would like to ask Nicole any questions please do so via my email – firstname.lastname@example.org