The most honest blog post I’ll ever write: What It Feels Like To Be Infertile.

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Infertility comes in about a billion different forms- from those who simply cannot conceive due to sheer bad luck, to those involved in accidents and illnesses that take away the precious opportunity to have a baby to those like me who are going through early menopause.

In a few weeks I’ll turn 24, the age my mother was when she gave birth to me and perhaps that’s why this blog post is being shared now. I’m at an age where friends are getting engaged, a few are walking down the aisle and several have children or are currently pregnant. Your mid-20s are a wonderful time of exploring who you are as an adult. Gone are the days of being a teenager and hanging out in university halls, gone are your early 20s where you panicked and wondered what the hell life was going to throw at you. No, your mid-20s are all about enjoying being an adult and enjoying and looking forward to those major life steps such as moving in with your boyfriend, moving to a different city, getting on the career ladder and drinking £8 a go cocktails. As I look at myself, I’m exceptionally happy with what I am at 23/24- I’m living with the man of my dreams, I’m about to finish a degree, I’m being paid to write and do various social media stuff and I have a cracking selection of handbags in my wardrobe.

But I’m also at a time when I dislike myself the most. I was diagnosed with early menopause two years ago this month. I was 21 and my whole life fell apart there and then. It’s taken me two shockingly difficult years to pull myself round and be someone who can manage a career and uni work, be someone who can cope with seeing an advert on TV for Kiddicare and someone who can get dressed on a morning with a smile and look forward to the day ahead.

My diagnosis did not surprise me one bit. In fact, it was me who first suggested to the doctor I may be suffering from early menopause but he ruled it out and at first diagnosed PCOS but something in me, don’t ask what, just knew. So I kept and diary and went back to the doctors over and over. I was in hospital several times, I had so many blood tests and swabs taken that I felt like a human pincushion. But in April 2011, my fears were backed up with seemingly medical proof. I was offered counselling which I took via university and I cried and laughed through the sessions until my allocated sessions were up and the university had to let me go to help someone else.

I was confident for a long while and, naturally, it was only certain things that would set me back and I’d often put feeling sensitive towards a friend’s pregnancy or seeing amazing cute baby clothes down to my crazy hormones. If menopause does one thing, it sends your emotions into haywire and I’ll often find myself crying because we’ve run out of milk or because the jeans I want to wear are in the washing machine. Luckily for me, work keeps me focused and it’s proven the thing that takes my mind off everything.

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But I have lived with heartbreaking infertility for two years now and I’m perhaps suffering with the pain of it more than ever. One thing I hate is being told I can adopt/foster/have egg donation or IVF. My yearning for a child of my own- with the DNA of me and that of my beautiful other half- literally tears me apart. Whilst I’d never rule out any of those options, right now I am feeling selfish and if I can’t have a baby of my own then I don’t want one at all. Perhaps some find that black and white option not very positive but, for me, it helps me cope. Black or white. Baby or no baby. A life of eternal happiness versus constantly wondering if I’m missing out.

I’m at such an exciting time in my life- graduating, an ace career in social media to look forward to, moving to London with R- but the loss I feel knowing my future will never involve a child is unreal. The pain when it truly hits you that your life will be one without a child feels like it’s cutting you right in half, it feels like the world is seriously ending, it feels like you’re falling forever, it feels like the cruelness of it all has turned into a physical being and is twisting a knife right through your heart over and over and over.

To know I’ll have to go through another 15 years or so of friends, colleagues and family members announcing their own pregnancies terrifies me. Because, right now, every time a friend announces their pregnancy I smile and say congratulations but I am so sad for me. So sad that I spend days sobbing and wondering “why the fuck is this happening to us?!” Of course, I think my friends have beautiful children and I’m proud of each and every one of them as they make their way through parenthood. I’d never not want them to be parents but I will always wonder what it’s like. From watching your baby bump grow to the crazy experience of labour to the 5am feeds and baby sick ruining your favourite Whistles shirt.

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And it’s not just your future that infertility takes away, it’s your identity. The main thing I’ve struggled with over the last two years is my role as a woman in society. Perhaps through the black cloud of depression that unsurprisingly followed my diagnosis, I instantly thought that because I was unable to carry a child, it meant I was worthless as a woman. Indeed, it’s still a thought that crosses my mind at least once a day. I’ve gone through times where I didn’t see the point in wearing my favourite dresses, applying lipstick, painting my nails or doing any of the other things that were typically feminine. I felt I didn’t deserve to be a woman. I felt like those able to get pregnant and give birth were worth so much more. Surely women were put on this world to carry children? So what was the the point of me?

But I’ll tell you what the point of me is- it’s to be the best girlfriend, daughter, step-sister and friend I can be.

As I progress forward and out of the latest infertility induced fog, I’m discovering who Hollie-Anne is without the thought of a baby in her life. Who is she going to be? What else does she want out of life? And how can she be the best person she can for those other people in her life who laugh at her crap jokes, compliment her latest ridiculous statement necklace and wipe away her tears during the bad times?

There will always be a huge, huge, huge part of me that is owned by my lack of being able to have a baby but I need to take control of the other part of me that isn’t owned by that- namely, my identity and personality.

Being infertile really does make you lose yourself and you will spend the rest of your life wondering “what if…” but you need to fight through that and not lose sight of the person you were before. For me, I need to remember I am a cracking bet when it comes to being part of a digital agency, that I am actually a very kind and caring girlfriend, that people like to be around me because I am quirky and make them laugh. I need to not forget that I AM A WOMAN. I am a woman who loves finding an ace new restaurant, a woman who secretly likes playing Style Boutique on the Nintendo DS, a woman who has a shit load to give to a marriage, to friendships, to life.

The truth about being infertile is that is the most crushing thing I think anyone can ever go through but it’s there, it’s a fact and it’s not going to ruin my life. Through the extreme pain, through the sobbing and through the inevitable moments of pure anguish and anger, I vow to remember I am more than an infertile woman- I am a great woman.

For anyone reading this who is going through a similar thing- hold your head up, you are strong and beautiful and brave. Life is crazy. Enjoy the ride for what it is and do whatever it is you have to do to cope. I suggest a glass of wine. So here’s to the brave women of the world- fertile or infertile- cheers!

29 thoughts on “The most honest blog post I’ll ever write: What It Feels Like To Be Infertile.

  1. I’m so sorry to hear about what you have had to come to terms with. You seem like a brave young woman and I’m sure all women, whether maternal or not, can sympathise with this heartbreaking story. One of my closest friends has endometriosis and has had to come to terms with abnormalities with her body and the fact she many never conceive, and all at only 18. I hope you continue to be strong and find peace- this post is fantastically written and emotive and I will show it to my friend. x

  2. This is a really brave and beautifully written post. Well done you for finding the strength to share this and hopefully to bring some comfort and familiarity to those going through something similar. I feel very blessed to have been able to have a baby after reading this. I am certain though, that as you say, you’ll have a big impact to make, with or without children in your family x

    • Wow. That was absolutely amazingly written. I cried the whole time reading that. I am not going through early menopause so I can’t even imagine what that would be like, but I have been diagnosed with endometriosis and my husband and I are presently going through fertility treatments. Everything you have written about not being able to conceive is everything that has been in my thoughts. I completely relate. I just want to say job well done. Beautifully written and everything you have written is so so true for women that are having difficulty to conceive or are infertile. I wish you all the best in life and thank you for writing such a raw real blog on infertility.

  3. Oh Hun. I truly feel your pain. I have managed to get through by knowing that I have the most wonderful husband and I am blessed to have him. We have supported each other though the endless ups and downs this has brought us over the last 10 years. Im sure your young man will be the same. We console ourselves with the lovely godchildren our friends have given us. Of course this will never replace a child of my own and I still yearn for this, even though I realise it will never happen. I still struggle but gradually I am learning to accept. This may seem an empty comment,as it seemed to me when I was in deep despair, but I promise it’s true. I sometimes wish I’d counted the number of times I was told I should adopt, but I just didn’t want to bring up someone else’s child.
    I hope I can help with my words, and I also hope that one day you will also begin to accept the loss you’ve suffered. ((Hugs)) xx

  4. I just stumbled across this post from finding a link on my twitter account, and I felt I absolutely had to comment. This was such a wonderfully written and honest post, you really seem like an incredibly strong woman and you are dealing with so much. Maybe this is too much for a comment but I’ve been having problems with periods for many years and still no one can give me any answers, PCOS has been floated about but ultimately it’s unexplained. The words “might struggle to conceive” have also been said by a number of people and I’m 17, I don’t quite know how to react. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be given such a definitive diagnosis. I am sure that whatever happens in your life you will have a wonderful one.
    Elle xxxx

  5. Lady…. What a true awe inspiring lady you are. To write such a honest, true and thought provoking piece. I have no idea how you get through what you do, but you are that amazing woman, you are amazing in the fact you have held your head high, this piece of writing is probably helping more people than you know. Allowing yourself to grieve is important, it is a loss you have experienced and that will never change but know that with every ounce you will make an impact on this world and be your amazing self with or without a child and we will all be here (including R) supporting you, loving you and making sure you realise this.

    Lots of love to you lady xxxxx

    Scribbs

  6. “I felt I didn’t deserve to be a woman.”
    I felt this way for some months after an unexpected pg miscarried. I hadn’t even given any thought to children before that, and when it happened I couldn’t think of anything I wanted more. I felt like a total failure, slipped into a huge depression and it took months to feel better about myself.

    This post is really brave and I can’t begin to imagine how you feel or what you are going through, but that part reminded me how powerful our emotions can be in response to our lives and what they throw at us and one of the most important things is to, like Sarah says above, allow yourself to grieve.

  7. This is a really beautiful, awe inspiring post and I really admire you. This comment, “One thing I hate is being told I can adopt/foster/have egg donation or IVF.” < I can only imagine, as I am not in your position, however I am sure I would hate this too. It isn't the same as your own – having kids IS a selfish thing but then it needs to be, that's the point, IMO. Huge hugs to you, hope to meet up for that coffee soon. xxx

  8. Hollie.

    To me first and foremost YOU ARE A WOMAN. You are the woman who wears ridiculous statement necklaces, who will make me snort with laughter when I should be working, sends me pictures of her in a onesie and no make up and inspires me to be the best version of me.

    When I read this post a particular part of a film came to my mind. Did you ever see Erin Brockervich? It reminded me of one of the ladies who

    “do you think if you have know breasts and no uterus, you’re still technically a woman?” – and Julia Roberts replies “You’re actually a happier woman because you don’t have to worry about maxi pads and
    underwire”

    Take any of the above away, take away the ability to have a baby and you’re still one of the most phenomanol women I’ve ever met. Your determination, passion, vivality makes me strive everyday to be everything that you are. We’ve spoken about infertility on the phone, so I don’t want to go over old ground

    I know you say that you’re black and white against having a child that doesn’t hold your DNA, I hope that someday when you’ve finished taking the world by storm and being the person you were made to be… I hope you reconsider that. You have everything about you to be an amazing mother, that doesn’t mean it has to be your own, I can see you becoming an Angelina Jolie type (with better hair, a bigger more fabulous arse and a smile that could light up a city in a power cut) giving a child whats important to everybody, love. & you have that in abundance.

    And if not… your life will be full of handbags, statement necklaces, Style Boutique on the Nintendo DS, having me staying over and you helping to dissect my rubbish love life, eating in fabulous restaurants (but steak, please?) and drinking £8 cocktails followed by £4 shots of tequila.

    NOW. Can we please go out, make like the Sex & the City 2 movie and singing I AM WOMAN on karaoke with our boobs out? Thanks.

    (I love you x)

  9. A child is the last thing I feel like I could ever want. I’ve actually looked into having a hysterectomy so people can stop telling me “you’ll change your mind, I bet you’ll have a kid” and all that crap. However, I can completely understand why you feel the way you feel – it sucks to be told you can’t have something you want.

    There’s no reason you can’t live a happy and complete life without a child. I find it very strange when I hear women talk about a child as if it defines them, and their future, as a person. Be the best you can be and keep your chin up. Those words won’t console you, but hopefully in a few years you’ll realise you’re not missing out, you just have time to do other things which won’t be open to other women ‘burdened’ with a baby :-)

  10. Dear Hollie Anne – I really resonated with what you said about ‘another 15 years’ of watching others create their families. In fact, in my experience, even when you hit 40+ people never stop asking, suggesting and wondering about a woman without children. We have a couple of other women in our private online forum who have had early menopause. And others who are childless for so many reasons (or it’s looking that way) and all of whom want to face their unexpected life situation with dignity, creativity and courage. Yes, not having children does open up other opportunities, but without the support of women who share the loss of that dream, it’s hard to come out the other side of that loss and embrace that freedom. Good luck hon, and if you want to come and check us out, we’re http://www.Gateway-Women.com Click on “Forum” to apply to join the private community.
    With hugs and sisterhood
    Jody x
    Founder: Gateway Women

  11. Immensely powerful post. I will share.

    I won’t patronise you by saying I know how you feel, I don’t.

    But I know you are not alone, and someone out there is struggling and maybe your post can help them.

    Many hugs and much love

  12. Brave and sad post. Your courage should be recognised. I felt as choked reading your account as when a young friend who suffers from endo went for her pre-op examination prior to a hysterectomy (at 21) only to be told that she was pregnant and therefore left with an unexpected miracle (no other word for it really)

    Childless lives can still be fulfilling, small comfort and probably sounds trite atm. I wish you well for your future x

  13. This made me cry. I feel like everything you were saying is something I have thought at one point or another. My husband and I have been trying to have a baby for two years with no luck. The thought had never even crossed my mind that it wouldn’t happen, like, immediately!
    My best friend is currently 4 months pregnant with her second baby and whilst outwardly, I’m thrilled for her, a little bit of me thinks “she gets TWO babies so easily and I’m struggling to even get pregnant”
    I so so so wish you every happiness. Thank you for a lovely post xxx

  14. This was sooo moving Hollie. You are an inspiration and a role model to ALL other people – such a brave girly for sharing this with everyone! . I worked with a lady who went through the exact same thing when she was 24, she had no idea where her life would take her and now she is married with a stepson who completes her life and she is unbelieably happy. :) You are such an inspiration! YOU GO GIRL xx

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  17. This is very touching article and you’re so brave and inspiring for writing about it. I have never experienced what you’re going through but as a seven year old girl, my mum passed away. It took years for me to realise that life goes on. You have to hold your head up high and be the best that you can be. Huge, life changing events only make us stronger, better people and we have to learn from them and make the best of a bad situation. It is easy to let these disastrous events take over your life and become who you are, but I believe it is necessary to see the positive in life and always be your happy, shining self.
    Good lucky with your future!
    Laura x

  18. Wow, I’m sorry for your loss. Thanks for sharing as I’m sure this will be helpful to lots of women.

    One thing I’d highly recommend (if you’re not there already) is finding a good counsellor or therapist to help you process, express and deal with your throughts and feelings and find healthy ways of moving forward. Right now you’re in the thick of reaction and emotion – to me it seems that you could with this a trained person to help you reflect on and work through this time.

    Best wishes to you and your partner!

  19. I’m very late to this, only just finding your blog. What a truly amazing post and something I can totally relate too. I am on medication which has a 50% chance of making me infertile, but without it I can’t function. It was a scary decision to make and very emotional and I’m only just getting over it. Your strength as you talk about your story is just amazing and you will be the most awesome aunt/god-mother and are already an awesome lady! Keep going, it’s unbelievably inspiring :)

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