I finally feel I’ve reached acceptance. But the realization has happened under unexpected circumstances, and is now helping in unexpected ways.
We stopped ttc in April 2016 after our 6th failed round of IVF/PGD. Like everyone dealing with infertility, I found it really hard to deal with and accept childlessness and was an absolute mental mess. I was frustrated with myself for not being able to get on and deal with it, but really couldn’t work out how to do this, which frustrated me more. Finally, in February 2017 I started specialist British infertility counselling via Skype (I live in Spain), and it was the most amazing, life changing process. I was lucky to completely click with my counsellor, and she helped me advance quickly and thoroughly through my feelings and emotions, realize that it was grief I was dealing with, and how to get through it. I was with her until Easter, when I felt I had made such progress it was time to stop.
Around that time, I found the lovely ladies and gentlemen in the Childless Path to Acceptance support group on Facebook, the Dovecote, and revisited Gateway Women. This was just what I needed to give me that final push and support to reach acceptance (thank you!).
On 2nd August this year I had what I can only describe as an epiphany, triggered by a conversation with my mum (it was her birthday) who’d seen and been reading links I’d liked on the Dovecote and Gateway Women, especially this article, which I’ve shared before:
I realized that I was there. I had actually reached acceptance, or something similar. I literally walked around feeling lighter and with a huge smile on my face, it was a very weird but fabulous feeling that I couldn’t quite describe!
On the evening of 2nd August, my life changed again, and a completely different journey began for me. Having had a persistent cough for 3 weeks previously, I went to hospital that night and through the course of August have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma, incurable cancer of the lung lining –all but unheard of for a healthy 34 year old. This was a bit of a shock, as you can imagine! However, it’s also been quite revelatory. My husband and I know for sure we can deal with this. Personally, I believe that after getting through infertility grief and reaching childless acceptance, we can deal with anything emotionally. We are SO strong as a result of everything we’ve been through. We have been very lucky that infertility brought us closer together, and we know without any doubt that we can take this on together. We also learnt from infertility that isolation doesn’t help. We were very private about our infertility journey, and I still believe we needed that privacy, but this time we’ve decided to tell all our nearest and dearest, and for it to be a totally open affair. And it’s been a totally overwhelmingly positive experience so far – the love and support from family and friends near and far has been incredible, and I can already see this journey is going to be so much easier because of that. It’s a different ball game that’s for sure, everyone understands cancer, everyone knows how to find “10 ways to help someone with cancer” online, research on the fabulous Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support sites, and everyone knows someone who has had cancer, and how awful it is.
The polar opposite of infertility. There have been some people who when I told them about the cancer, and in their understandable shock, have got almost angry with me for being so "ok" and saying that I believe this is going to be easier mentally than infertility – I’ve said this to many people, and I believe it. They clearly think I’m bluffing, but I’m not. After hiding away for so many years and dealing with our grief and pain in isolation, this is already so different. And personally, I’m in such a stronger headspace than I was with infertility, I know now how to deal with my feelings, how to feel sad, and how to be positive. I’ve found it interesting that whilst everyone has been impressed by how “together” we are at the moment, many don’t believe that we’re really ok. We really are, as far as is possible. And in the moments we’re not, we know how to get through it, we know how to talk, we know how to cry, we know how to deal with the ugly tears. Oh and hospital visits, needles, blood draws and drips? No problemo! Been there, done that, got the T-shirt.
It’s going to be a long road ahead, a very different road, I am currently waiting to start chemo, and am well aware that will bring on its own challenges, especially physically, however, our mindset is good, we are so well supported, and in excellent medical hands (as we have been throughout in Spain, hats off to the Spanish).
So something I never ever in a million years thought I’d say is thank you to our infertility. Thank you for preparing us so well for this journey ahead, thank you for making us so, so strong, thank you for the intimate bond you brought us as a couple, thank you for making us aware how essential the right support is and how strong that can make you, thank you for giving me the continued support of an excellent counsellor, thank you for making me be able to make light of needles and scans, thank you for making us able to deal with serious trauma, thank you for making us used to hearing bad news and take it on the chin, thank you for helping us be more patient and learn how to wait for results, thank you for helping us know that sometimes the path is long, but you will get there.
Love and light to everyone on their journeys.