After being married for six years, and together for almost a decade before we announced we were extending our family, we had slowly started to hear less of the common question ‘when are you thinking of making it a family of three?’
Honestly, I don’t massively begrudge anyone who asked it of us. For many people, it was a natural question and something they obviously expected from us based on their own choices and experiences. That being said, there is a lot to learn and be mindful of when asking something that can be deemed as incredibly personal or sensitive. Personally, I don’t ever ask. I respect that there is a usually reason for not adding children into the mix, and leave it up to the couple to share this should they ever wish to.
So, what about that family of three?
The reason I am sharing this post now is because this month marks Endometriosis awareness month. It’s been a good few years’ since I last wrote on this particular topic as I often feel the conflict between sharing something quite personal, and the importance of being honest to help others, but I think that with my current circumstances it only feels right to share something quite close to my heart.
Following a long journey, laparoscopies (surgery) and endless scans and tests that I won’t go into detail with here, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis in 2014.
Since then, I have faced a series of hospitalisations, burst cysts, bloating and IBS and trials of different pain management solutions to try and get a handle on the condition day to day.
But what actually is it?
Endometriosis is a condition where cells like the ones in the lining of the womb are found elsewhere in the body. Unlike the cells in the womb that leave the body as a period, this blood has no way to escape, and instead leaves behind these tissue linings which can cause cysts, inflammation, pain and the formation of scar tissue.
It is a chronic and debilitating condition and can lead to infertility, fatigue and bowel and bladder problems amongst many other things.
It is also notoriously difficult to diagnose, and many women, myself included, go years with painful symptoms and no support or answer to why they are suffering.
So, “what about that family of three?” we often got asked.
Well, based on the above, we were suddenly very aware a year after getting married that if we ever wanted to expand our family, there was a big chance it wouldn’t be straightforward and could result in disappointment and years’ of frustration ahead.
This, paired with our goal of seeing a lot of the world and building up our careers led us to the mutual decision that for the foreseeable future, we wouldn’t even worry or focus our energies on the big ‘what if’s’ about starting a family. We made a big pre-baby list of everything we wanted to do first and put our heart and souls into having the best five years as a married couple that we possibly could and to ignore the could we / couldn’t we question.
However as we reached our thirties, we knew it was time to dig out this obstacle we had pretty much buried, and face the realities it could bring head on. Especially as for my husband, children were a big dream. We knew we were ready for a family; we just now needed to find out what it would take or if it could really happen for us.
We started the journey knowing it could take a lot of time or not even be successful. A lot of medical advice recommends couples trying to start a family try don’t approach it ‘scientifically’, and you hear that regular phrase which is ‘as soon as we stopped trying it happened!’ just like in the What to Expect When You’re Expecting Film.
We knew that for us, this probably wasn’t the best route. I won’t go into the details as honestly a lot is still quite personal, but we spent a long time preparing with expensive private medical visits, scans to check the current existence of lesions or cysts, and a big diet and lifestyle overhaul to name just a few. Honestly, it involved a lot of saving, patience and trust and we know we were fortunate in that others have it much worse than we ever did.
It took quite a bit of time, and we had a few pretty awful bumps, tears and scares along the way, but eventually we were incredibly lucky in that it actually happened and I am now writing this at 35 weeks’ pregnant with our little girl.
I wanted to share this post and my story as from the outside, it often looks quite easy or that people just manage to get pregnant without much effort. For many couples, that can be an amazing reality, but for others not so much. If you just looked at my Instagram you’d probably think the same of us and not be aware that even for the first twenty weeks of this pregnancy I had two cysts bigger than the baby still hanging around and needing to be monitored, and thanks to my surgery scars my belly button is a sight to behold right now.
Really, I wanted to just highlight that we never really know what has gone on to get someone to the place where they are with or without children, and that we should all be mindful of this when raising the questions such as ‘when are you thinking of making it a family of three?’ or comparing ourselves to others.
For those with endometriosis or going through something similar, and who want to talk, always reach out to me. A strong network does wonders and you don’t need to go through this alone.