When I was a child I was adamant about the fact that one day I would be a mum. Growing up as the youngest child in a hard-working yet loving family with some dramas here and there, saw me growing up quickly into an independent, self-assured and confident teenager.
I left home at just 17 to study and found this the best thing ever! My college years were wild, fun, crazy and fantastic. Boyfriends came and went and after college I moved south where after a nasty break up and some more fun times as a young singleton, aged 22, I met my match. A dashing Englishman who made the world stop spinning when our eyes locked. This was it, I had met my soulmate.
We dated for 3 years, bought a house together in 2005 and life was sweet! The topic of having children had been discussed at length. For my partner having kids wasn’t a must and for a few years I was happy to go along with that idea. I was making a career, we were having great fun travelling the world, going to concerts, we were living a nice life with its ups and downs, but overall we were happy. Around my 30th birthday my children’s wish flared up big time. My partner is 13 years older than I am and I felt we shouldn’t wait too long anymore.
Fortunately he understood my wish and was very supportive of my desire to become a mother and somewhere in 2008 we stopped using contraceptives to let nature take its course. My cycle has always been regular as clock work so when I had a few moments where my periods were late my excitement over a potential pregnancy grew. I started looking at baby clothes, prams, etc. Some of my friends were mum’s already and I couldn’t wait to be one too! I never actually was pregnant so felt disappointment when my periods did eventually arrive.
When in 2010, I started to get irregular periods and bleedings after intercourse, I went to see my doctor to find out what was causing this. All the tests kept coming back clear yet the symptoms only got worse. In June 2010 we got married and for a while things were under control until our honeymoon in November 2010. I started bleeding so heavily that the moment we came back I went straight back into hospital.
Over the course of a year, I had been turned inside out, was told to go back on the pill, come off the pill, try to get pregnant, do not get pregnant, surgeries, and after another 6 months of examinations, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in June 2012. 3 weeks later my uterus was removed and I was sent home to recover.
Cancer free, a body in pieces and my mind completely in shock. What had always been at the forefront of my mind during that period was, my health comes first! Looking back I remember one day talking to my husband (before the official diagnosis but already convinced something serious was going on) that I needed to get better first before we have a baby as I didn’t want to die and leave him with a child. So I focused on recovering, dealing with the aftermath of being a cancer patient. The amount of help we were offered on that topic was mind boggling, very helpful and despite quite some setbacks and additional surgeries in the following years, I do not feel like a patient anymore.
I did feel robbed! Robbed of our dreams, plans, my womanhood.
Despite all the help on the illness, no one offered help on how to deal with the consequences of my treatment. The fact that I was 33, childless with a wish to become a mother was simply overlooked. Other options of becoming parents aren’t an option for us for multiple reasons. I threw myself into work, social activities, renamed myself “Best Aunty in the world”, picked up travelling again, ran half marathons for charity, qualified as a yoga teacher, took on a job with 70% travelling around the globe and planned our long overdue house renovations.
I was back on track and all was good again (happily ignoring the emotional outbursts I regularly had). Till one day in October 2016. I was painting a wall in the room we had always thought one day would be the nursery and a “coming of age” song came on the radio and hit me like a ton of bricks.
My legs gave way and I collapsed into a heap on the floor where I cried. And cried, I wailed from the darkest depths of my body for the death of my motherhood and that’s when I realised that I needed to stop running away from this. Stop over compensating because honestly, I was so unhappy about what I had become, that I had lost a big part of me. I just didn’t want to hurt anymore.
The relief I felt when I admitted this to myself, to my husband, my closest friends and family, was immense. I finally dared to seek help and after a long search I found the Gateway Women community. I felt like having been put in a warm bath… A sense of belonging, with no need for explanations and no judgement. I followed the online bee program for a year in 2017 and went to Jody Day’s reignite weekend in London in September 2017. This was where I truly did find my spark again and it felt like last chapter of my grief journey around my childlessness had found its final words. Ever since that weekend I feel lighter, more open and accepting of myself and my situation. I still have moments that are tough, however, I now no longer let them define me as a woman.
World Childless Week Champion
Want to know more about me and the work I am doing for Childless Women?
Go to www.gateway-women.nl to find out!