In January 2015, I had an emergency operation to remove my large intestine, due to it perforating after unknowingly suffering from ulcerative colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease.
I was given a stoma bag for 10 months, before having it reversed that October, attaching my small bowel to my rectum to allow me to go to the toilet ‘normally’ again.
Of course, the whole experience was traumatic, life-changing and painful. It changed how I viewed my body and at the age of 19, it was a lot to deal with. But there was one thing that made it worse.
After my reversal surgery, I sat down for an appointment with my surgeon, and he told me that due to the surgery and the amount of scar tissue I had around my stomach and pelvis, I wouldn’t be able to conceive naturally. I was heartbroken.
Although I was told I would be offered IVF on the NHS, I knew IVF didn’t always work and I felt like I’d had my chances of being a mother naturally had been ripped away from me. I felt like my body had failed me. I did feel guilty, because there are many women who can’t have children who aren’t offered IVF on the NHS, and it is incredibly expensive. But for me, it just felt like I was constantly being punished. First the surgeries and now this.
Over time, I came to terms with it. At the time, I was in a long-term relationship, and I decided that actually, maybe kids weren’t for me. I’d focus on my career instead. If I wanted kids in the future, I’d try the IVF. But it’s no big deal. I convinced myself I wasn’t phased because it was easier than admitting I felt like a failure. I pushed myself into my career and stopped thinking about having children.
In October 2018, my partner of six years left me. Three months later, I met someone new and started a new relationship. Of course, I told him about my situation and he explained that he didn’t want children himself. And so it seemed perfect, as I felt there was no pressure on me. If he didn’t want children, at least I didn’t have to feel bad for being unable to give him that.
But six months later, I got pregnant.
It was a shock, to say the least. I had been experiencing horrendous stomach cramps which I just put down to my IBD, and the doctors had done a pregnancy test for me which came back negative, as expected. But my period was late, my boobs were sore and I was more tired than usual. However, it had never happened before, so pregnancy didn’t even come into my mind. A week after the doctor had done the pregnancy test, I decided to do a home one just in case. I’m not quite sure why I felt compelled to do it as I was 100% sure I was going to see a negative, but I did it anyway.
In less than three seconds after peeing on the stick, a big fat positive showed up. I didn’t know how to feel. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t think it could have possibly happened to me. After telling my partner, who was equally as shocked, he went out to get another test, just to be sure. And again, it was positive.
I didn’t know how to feel at first. I was confused. I had spent the past four years accepting that it wouldn’t happen for me. I had spent years focusing on my career instead, convincing myself that it was all okay and that maybe I didn’t even want it to happen for me. And then it did.
After telling my family and processing the news, I started to get excited. And things became more real after I had a scan, and I saw a little flicker of a heartbeat.
I’m now 15 weeks along, and though it hasn’t been plain-sailing, I am incredibly excited to become a mother. Don’t get me wrong, it can be hard, especially living with a chronic illness. And I panic at every symptom, worried something is going to go wrong because that’s generally my luck with anything medical. But so far everything seems to be okay, and I’m just hoping it stays that way.
I never thought I’d be one of those women to say ‘never give up hope’ when the doctors tell you you can’t have kids, but I guess I am now, because it happened for me. Our body’s work in mysterious ways, and the next time a doctor talks to me about my fertility, I think I’ll take it with a pinch of salt, and not get too focused on their decision for me. Because, as I’ve proven, you never know what’s going to happen.
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