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infertility-struggles

I Didn’t See Infertility Coming My Way

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This morning I opened my phone to see a lot of publications all talking about the same news story – Jennifer Aniston talking about her infertility struggles in the Allure interview. And to be honest, it triggered me. I’ve been thinking about it all day, wondering how someone like her (ie a famous untouchable celebrity) could have been infertile too?

I’m not comparing my own infertility struggles with hers, because everyone’s journey is not the same, but I felt bowled over that a celebrity I’ve grown up with is now sharing an insight into a similar pain that I too have been through.


Coming to terms with infertility

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I sat in my car for three hours in a car park after I was told I couldn’t have children.

Infertility is a topic I’ve tried to write about before, but I’ve realised now that I stopped myself from finishing it or even publishing it out of fear. In fact, I have no idea where that original article is even now. I was worried I would be judged, that people reading my story would think I’m not worthy of being a woman too. It sounds crazy right? And I suppose you never think it’s going to happen to you. Just as Jennifer Aniston wishes she freezed her eggs, you never think you’ll need to.

I remember seeing everyone post their highlights at the end of 2021 and all I could think of is what an incredibly tough year it had been for me. It was the year I was told to finally stop trying to get pregnant with my own biological child. So I bravely shared a glimpse into my story on Instagram which remarkably saw my readers and followers offer a huge amount of support.

Being open and sharing my story felt like a huge weight being lifted. I felt no longer in the dark and alone, and I felt like I didn’t need to put my life on hold anymore.


It feels like miracle babies are more common than they are

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Meeting my nephew for the first time in 2009 I never thought I wouldn’t have my own children.

When I read the Jennifer Aniston Allure article, the thing that stood out for me the most is when she said:

I actually feel a little relief now because there is no more, ‘Can I? Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.’ I don’t have to think about that anymore.

I know how that feels to a certain extent. I see women every single day announce that they have finally got pregnant with their miracle baby (which I’m really happy for them). It’s made me wonder if that too could ever happen to me, even if the doctors have said that even IVF would be a waste of money for me.

But maybe it feels like I’m seeing women announce they are having their miracle baby is because more women haven’t come forward to tell their story like Jennifer Aniston has that it hasn’t and won’t be happening for them.

The truth is, I know deep down that won’t happen for me, and it’s something I’m learning to accept. Maybe that’s why I was worried about sharing my story on Instagram because I thought I had doomed myself by confirming my reality.

And maybe Jennifer Aniston had to spend those awful years keeping quiet about it when the world deemed her ‘selfish’ for not wanting children, just in case she too had a miracle baby.

When I read this article, it made me realise no wonder I have felt ashamed that my body failed me and ashamed that a doctor literally told me that I have a body of a 70 year old when I was 35, because I was already in the post-menopausal stage.

If famous women are deemed selfish for not having children, then how would anyone who can’t have biologicial children feel brave enough to tell their story without judgement? At the same time, why can’t a woman decide not to have children without being classified as ‘selfish’ as well? It literally makes no sense.


Going through the menopause in my 30s

infertility-struggles

Not only was I dealing with the loss of infertility, I was having to deal with severe menpausal symptoms that were so bad, I’m surprised Steve stayed with me which included terrible rage, depression, anxiety and hot flushes.

I was literally given a prescription for HRT by the IVF doctor and that was it. I remember calling his office to find out how to take it as I wasn’t told anything. I then spent about a year going to the doctors and changing the type of HRT until it worked for me. If you’re ever going through the symptoms, do not settle. I was offered anti-depressants every single time I went to the doctors and I’m glad I held off because I literally just needed a high dosage of HRT.


Understanding the grief process

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When we first met in 2011.

I was never prepared for the grief that was to follow infertility. As I was constantly told by each doctor that I couldn’t have children, the heartbreak hit harder. I felt the similar emotions of grief as I did as a 27 year old when my mum passed away. It was awful, and yet I felt so alone with no one around me who was going down a similar path.

We’ve all grown up being told what age is deemed acceptable to hit certain milestones in our lives, and it’s something I’m realising more and more that is just crazy. I always thought I would be married with children, have an amazing job and a family home by the time I reached 30. But the truth is, this narrative simply puts pressure on us all to constantly compare our lives with others.

I grew up in a big family with four brothers and a sister. My mum was one of seven and my dad was one of five. I assumed I too would have a big family, yet here I am having now recently turned 40 and childless not by choice. But you know what, as I turned 40 last week, I feel happier than I have done so in years. Maybe I’ve realised that this is my path and it’s actually OK to accept it.


Why don’t you just adopt?

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Actually feeling happier than ever last week on honeymoon in The Whitsundays.

And I know you’re probably thinking, why don’t you just adopt or go down the egg donor route? I would be wondering the same too.

If I had $1 everytime someone said to me; “I wanted to adopt” but they ended up having three children, I simply wanted to tell them that it’s actually not as easy as you think it is.

The adoption process in Queensland is very, very, hard to get into that only six children were adopted in 2021. Hundreds of people apply for adoption every year, but you realise pretty quickly that it’s actually near to impossible to go through with it until the end. And if you’re wondering why? It’s because children are passed through the fostering system until they reach 18. Fostering isn’t something we are ready for right now, but we’ll never say never to it.

So, we’ve applied for inter-country adoption but each country has requirements and one is to be married for at least a year. If you’re wondering, that was one of the main reasons we got married so quickly recently so we could at least get moving with the process which already takes about five years, if we are one of the lucky ones.

And yes, we could apply back in UK too, but we would need to be living there for at least a year, and get Steve a visa which is not an option for us right now. But we’ll keep our options open and see how our path ends up going. So, yes we have options which is amazing, but as a woman, when you know you’ll never have a child that will look like you or have similar characteristics, it hits much harder than you could ever imagine it would.


This article isn’t about asking for feedback

This isn’t an article to get your feedback about what options we should go for, this is me just sharing my story to myself really about how I wish as a woman, I shouldn’t have to feel ashamed of the fact that I can’t have biological children.

This is also an article for other women who are faced with similar challenges that you are not alone and that I know only too well how awful this grief is, that no one will really understand unless they’ve been through it too.

And this is a reminder that even if you choose not to have children, you are not selfish and you don’t even need to explain why you don’t want children. We as woman should be able to choose how we live our lives without judgement from anyone.

  1. Thank you for so bravely and beautifully sharing your story. For bringing light to the childless not by choice community. I so appreciate not feeling so alone when I read this. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this. The terrible way women are treated around fertility/infertility/childless/child free issues is a symptom of the patriarchy we still live in. Producing children and/or raising them, or supporting others who are bearing and/or raising them is one of the most important and fundamental aspect of human life. Yet there is little acknowledgement of the risks we take on or the griefs we bear; our grief is disenfranchised, so we learn to hide it in shame of one sort or another. I remember feeling like an evil witch that no one would want to attend their baby shower if they knew of my struggle to bear life. It’s only by making our experiences and feelings and needs surrounding our losses known that we can break this cultural practice of hiding away infertile women and their griefs. Suppressed grief is crazy making, and can make a woman’s life much less happy than it could be once the grief is openly processed.

  3. Thank you Annie for sharing your story, it was so wonderful to read your honest and kindness toward yourself. All my love, Helen x

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