This sounds a bit odd but I had a bad health week last week and I think that was because I was pushing myself hard to try and work out why I saw my womb as the enemy. Stuck in bed, exhausted again, it suddenly came to me to write to my womb. So I did and I was amazed at what happened. There was a real light bulb moment when I thought, and realised, and accepted, that my womb was not doing all those bad things to me – that it was just trying to keep my pregnancy going, just like I would have done. My womb is a part of me after all. I couldn’t have believed this before. Here’s what I wrote – not edited or checked, just how it was:
You have been kind to me – you have carried two of my babies, who are the most amazing people in my world. OK, you gave my hyperemesis, but I forgive you because that didn’t last forever and it is your way of growing my babies (although – really not essential for healthy babies. Perhaps you sometimes try too hard?).
Maybe you thought you were over all this baby making stuff? It’s been a while, I accept that. I can tell that you were definitely starting to look at the menopause, diary in hand, deciding when to begin heading on that road. It must have been confusing for me to start thinking about cots and teething and tiny little fingers, clutching tightly onto my thumb.
Maybe you were just coming around to the idea when I started pumping my body full of drugs to make my ovaries produce more eggs. Maybe you didn’t think this was such a good idea. You remembered the progesterone though – you were straight in there, sending my constant nausea and sickness as soon as that was in my system. You and progesterone are loving bedfellows.
The first IUI, the sperm was put right where it needed to be, but nothing happened. The egg might have missed it. Or perhaps you knew that the egg wasn’t viable so you told it to go a different route and avoid them.
The second IUI, the sperm and egg fused and I knew I was pregnant very soon after. I don’t know what happened that time, or how soon the embryo stopped growing. I know that I was taking progesterone and I don’t know whether this was encouraging you to keep making me sick – confusing you – even though there was no need for us to be pregnant any more.
I did two pregnancy tests, one a week after the first, but I can’t know how ‘fully’ pregnant I was. When I had to take one at week 7 it came up straight away – like you were keen to show me how successful we were. The blood results were high too, like a normal pregnancy. And I was still feeling super sick.
I guess you didn’t know the baby had stopped growing. Or maybe you thought that if you worked extra hard, it would start growing again. I’ve not thought of it that way before.
I stopped having the progesterone so that must have been a sign that perhaps things hadn’t worked out too well, and the hormone levels were dropping, but you clung on. I never had any external bleeding. Your lining was still intact. I will still feeling sick – and honestly, that was very difficult for me. To feel pregnant yet know there was no visible baby in you.
I did have other bleeding though, internally, and it made me very ill. The doctors had to check my ovaries too.
It must have been a real shock to have it removed suddenly, when I was asleep. Maybe you felt them poking around in my ovaries as well. They are fine by the way – working just as well as they have always done.
I know that you are part of me, with me all the time. You are a great first home for my babies – so great that both Toby and Jessica stayed a week late. And you did curb the hyperemesis eventually (though every day reminded me of your presence with a bit of throwing up – just because).
Seeing an empty womb was not something I could ever have prepared myself for. To reach the miraculous stage of checking a pregnancy test AND to have so much sickness, I felt assured about the pregnancy. I had prepared myself for a future miscarriage and I’d even allowed a small voice in my head to prepare myself for seeing a tiny kidney bean baby with no heartbeat. I trusted my symptoms – I trusted you – to be certain that I would see something.
I still get a jolt of cold shock when I think about that day, although I’ve been working hard on dealing with my feelings. But I have been very angry at you. I have viewed you like an enemy, trying to hurt me. Why would you have deceived me like that? Maybe…just maybe…you weren’t.
Maybe you were just doing your best, working in the only way how. Maybe you just don’t realise or accept how much I want you to be filled with new life.
You’ve been around my whole life but you’ve only fully housed two babies. That’s 18 months out of 41 years. Don’t you want to be useful just one more time? (This would be a reasonable exchange for monthly bleeding and pain since I was 13, surely?)
If my eggs are just not viable, I think I could accept that. But growing a baby and then stopping – but not stopping – seems so cruel.
You were doing your best. You are a part of me. You know how much I love being a mother – and it’s you who makes me that.
I am going to try and trust that you will do your best, that you have always tried your best, and that there is no hidden agenda. You aren’t working for someone else – you are my agent, and my agent only.
I cannot ask, or plead, for you to let an embryo stay put. I cannot ask you to make sure it is one that will last full term. I accept that those things are beyond your control.
Please do carry on doing your job – of providing a cosy home for my babies. But please – if the baby dies, please let it go.
Were you keeping it because you wanted to keep that pain from me? Were you hoping you could make it better if you clung on? I would do that, and you are a part of me after all. I wouldn’t have wanted to let it go either. I would have clung onto it until it was wrenched away from me – just like it happened with you.
I see it now. You were just holding on.
And you were right – I would have been devastated to see marks of bright red, to feel cramps instead of nausea. To know that it was beginning of the end of that tiny life.
But seeing an empty screen was much worse. Being told there was nothing there was much worse. Crying in pain was much worse. Having an emergency operation was much worse.
No one saw that baby until then – the baby that you had worked so hard to nurture. It was there, but it would have been OK for you to let it go. Honestly. We both need to learn to let our babies go.