Now that Cohen is here is I have started to realise how much of myself was stolen during my battle with infertility. I guess it wasn’t so much stolen as that I allowed myself to lose it. Before infertility I was a confident woman who loved to get out and about, experimented with fashion, always made an effort to look after myself and make sure my hair was done nicely, took the time to play with my make up, wore heels. After infertility entered my life I let all those things slide.
Marie Claire was switched for the guilty pleasure of sneakily buying and reading Cosmopolitan Pregnancy. That was in the first year. The second year I started taking the fertility drugs and the weight started to pile on. We all know that fertility drugs have the sad side effect of weight gain and in my 3 years of treatment I gained a total of 6 kilos more than I was on the day we decided to start trying for a baby. Back when we thought it would be easy. All of a sudden I no longer made the effort to dress nicely or worry about how I looked because I wasn’t happy with my figure. I stopped wearing heels. My wardrobe consisted of about 5 different outfits I mixed and matched and I never brought new clothes because I kept thinking ‘Hopefully I’ll be pregnant soon and then I won’t fit it so it would be a waste of money’. 3 years later and I was still wearing the same old outfits again and again and again. Not to mention I couldn’t afford to buy clothes because all my spare money went into acupuncture and Chinese herbs in a last ditch effort to conceive naturally before moving onto IVF. And then even while I was doing IVF I would carry on spending money on acupuncture because I was too scared to stop in case ‘this’ was the magic cure. What if I stopped acupuncture (which by the way I spent far too much money on over the course of two years and saw me out of pocket about $74.00 a fortnight) and then my IVF cycle failed – would I look back and think if only I’d carried on with it then it may have worked? I wasn’t willing to take the risk. It wasn’t just my looks that I let slide either.
I’m not sure if it started when my mum died or when I realized I was having problems conceiving and it wasn’t going to be a quick fix, or if it was a combination of both, but all of a sudden I lost all confidence and I started to have silly little phobias that grew more and more every day. I wouldn’t walk anywhere because I was terrified of coming across a stray dog and being attacked. It started because there were a couple of stray pitbulls around the neighbourhood and I had one approach me one day and it gave me a huge fright. It got to the point I was too scared to go out to my mailbox in case one was lurking around the side of the fence. I didn’t want to catch the bus home from the train station because I was worried about walking from the bus stop to my front door (which was only a 2 minute walk across the road) in case the pitbull was lurking around. I didn’t have my license and I was too scared to get it because I had this absurd fear I would crash the car and I was just terrified of the idea of driving and had all these scenarios in my head of what might happen to the point I would psyche myself out. When I finally did get it I would map out the easiest route in my head to get from A to B and even then I was too scared to drive so I barely went anywhere and had my license for a good year and a half before I actually started to drive anywhere alone (and this wasn’t until I got pregnant which is when my confidence started to come back). It’s like infertility robbed me. I felt like a failure for not being able to get pregnant and lost all the confidence I once had in my abilities. A plane flew over our house one afternoon and it was extremely low and loud and gave both the HG and I a hell of a fright as it literally shook the house, but for weeks after that every time a plane flew overhead I would have an anxiety attack and think it was going to crash into the house. It was ridiculous. The internet became my refuge because I could have a social life without having to go anywhere. Going to new places was another fear – if I was told to meet someone somewhere I had never been before I would ask them to wait outside as I would be too nervous to enter the place on my own in case I couldn’t see them and I’d look like an idiot just standing there.
This is the same girl who at 19 years old hopped on a plane and went to the
to work on a summer camp without knowing anyone. Who then went from there all by herself on a bus to NYC and stayed in a hostel and did the whole tourist gig alone and made friends along the way. Who hopped on a plane again alone at 23 to go to USA Europe and do a Contiki tour. And all of a sudden I was too scared to even go down the road to a place I’d never been to before. Infertility changes you. You go from this person who you look back and barely recognise, to someone else entirely whose only focus is to have a baby. That goal becomes your whole life and takes over everything and you lose the person you once were amid the uncertainty and heartache of broken dreams.
The HG ended up having a break down during this phase of our life and suffering from anxiety. I got caught up in phobias.
Now I have my son I am working at regaining that confidence and getting back the girl I used to be and trying to move forward beyond infertility. I am not defined by my infertility but there were times in those 3 years that I forgot that.