Welcome everyone! It’s week ten of the “On Being Childfree” blog series and I wanted to say a HUGE thank you for your continued support. Every week the post is the most read on my blog and I receive emails from people wanting to take part and DMs on Instagram that people are finding this so helpful. This week I’m delighted to welcome our ninth guest story, Tara. Today Tara shares her teenage diagnosis of endometriosis, having cysts removed and losing a fallopian tube. She is incredible. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.
(If you would like to see where it all began, click here. Thank you so much for your support, if you would like to share your own story please email me on firstname.lastname@example.org)
We Are: Tara & Adam, in our 30s
Home Is: Birmingham
We Do: I work in customer service for an energy company and Adam is manager of a retail store
I grew up in South Africa and my journey to today started when I was 15. As my teens went on, my periods became abnormally heavy and I used to get incredibly sharp shooting pains in my pelvis and thighs too at the same time. After about 6 months of enduring the pain, my mom took me to our GP and I underwent a physical exam. My abdomen was so painful I yelped out in pain and within 15 minutes I was seeing a gynaecologist on the next floor up in the hospital. He performed an ultrasound on my uterus where a mass of cysts was discovered growing on my left ovary. I remember looking at the monitor and seeing all the cysts, and thinking, ‘’Wow, it looks like an Aero chocolate bar’’, that’s how many ‘’bubbles’’ we could see. I was scheduled in for surgery the very next day.
I never left the hospital, I was admitted straight away and my mom went home to go pick me up a few things. I remember being so upset because I was meant to be watching rugby the next day with my friends. The All Blacks were playing The Springboks in my home city of PE, and we had managed to get tickets. The boy I had the biggest crush on had invited me too! 😊 The next day I had the surgery, and I struggled badly with the anaesthetic. I had an awful reaction to it. Did you know that redheads require more anaesthetic than normal? It’s true. Anyway, they removed 7.6kgs worth of cysts, and could not save the ovary. Whilst they were in there, they also discovered that I had endometriosis. I was advised by the gynae there and then that I would struggle in the future. He was open and very honest about it, but it was fantastic that we had found the endo so very early, as woman can go a decade without getting a diagnosis.
Fast forward 15 years, to 2014. The year I married Adam, the love of my life. He obviously knew all about my medical history. The amount of times this man has held me and rocked me to sleep when the pain has been so intense because of a bad endo flareup is in the double digits. He is my angel. We had never in the (then) 5 years of our relationship used contraception, besides condoms in the early stages of our relationship for safe sex purposes, but on our wedding day in May 2014, I actually fell pregnant. By July, something wasn’t right. We hadn’t told anyone except our mothers that I was pregnant, but I knew in myself there was a problem. I had a bit of spotting, that I was advised was ‘’normal’’ but called bullshit. I went to an emergency walk in clinic, told them a brief history of my medical conditions, and I was sent to the local A & E.
There I was tested in the Early Conception Unit, where they suspected an ectopic pregnancy. They did some blood work, but the readings weren’t high enough to accurately diagnose an ectopic despite me having all the symptoms. I was admitted for monitoring as they have the potential to be fatal, yet somehow found myself on a ward where all my hospital companions were women in their 60’s and upwards who had had hysterectomies. Not exactly the best place for me to be. I was in hospital for 3 day before my bloods went high enough for them to operate and remove the egg. It had become stuck in my right fallopian tube, and when they did, they weren’t able to save the tube.
So there I was. 30, recently married, ectopic pregnancy, one ovary left but no fallopian tubes to carry them out in the normal way, and endometriosis. I suffered what can easily be called some form of mental breakdown. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I would be at work and see a pregnant customer come in and I would flip out and burst into tears. My then best friend didn’t announce her 2nd pregnancy to me until she was nearly 5 months, as she was terrified I wouldn’t talk to her. I started counselling, and that helped a lot.
We sought information about fertility treatment, went through all the tests for both me and husband, were told we were eligible for 2 rounds of IVF. But they dropped a massive bomb. I had less than a 5% chance of conceiving, even with the IVF, because of my medical history. I don’t remember much after that. I know my husband asked lots of questions, and I remember words, but that’s it. Essentially, we made a decision. It didn’t happen quickly, but we decided not to go ahead. I honestly know that I couldn’t handle failing, and I was set to fail. My mental health was my number one priority, and I knew it wouldn’t be strong enough. You hear these miracle stories, but I couldn’t do it.
We have been married for 5 years now, and yes, some days I do wish that things were different. But he is my world, and we are in this together. We have 2 beautiful dogs, Phoebe and Penny, who are my furbabies. We have travelled to some awesome places, and we have plans for many more trips. (George Michael’s Things Can Only Get Better has just started playing whilst I type this paragraph. Fate or what?!) We are financially stable, which is far more than I can say for a few friends who are parents, and we have freedom. We can do what we want, when we want, we get to dote on our friends’ kids, but hand them back at the end of the day!
I think the best part of our journey, is that Adam and I have decided to do it together. We’re a team, through and through, and we’re on the same page about this. The only way you can be like that is though open and honest communication. It sounds so bloody cheesy, but it’s so so SO true. He’s my lobster.
Thank you so so much to Tara for sharing her emotional story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Tara’s story, leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.