In 2012 my husband and I agreed it was time to start a family. I was excited.
Over the course of a year, I downed hundreds of pre-natal supplements, put myself on a cardio regime, had acupuncture, massage, Chinese herbs and homeopathy. I started Yoga for Fertility classes and hypnosis sessions.
Eighteen months in we visited the IVF clinic to ensure nothing was fundamentally wrong. The IVF doctor suggests we have a plan going forward that I give myself six months to fall naturally and if I’m not pregnant in that time, by July 2014, then we would start IVF. Talk about the pressure being on. If only I realised at the time how much stress this plan actually loaded on me.
July 2014 came down on me with the IVF alarm gnawing on my brain. Six months down. I wasn’t ready to give up on my body that it could do it without intervention. My husband & I have such a pure connection and, for me, it felt out of place to make our home-life a science project. We were more than that.
August 2014. September. October. Each month past the prescribed deadline was eating at me. I just couldn’t make the decision to go back to the IVF clinic again. Wait one more month.
On average, every two months my husband was soaking up my tears. It was despair, disappointment, frustration, it was the vulnerability, it was the insatiable feeling of not being in control and it was a deep sadness for a person I’d never know.
By the end of 2014 I made the decision that I wasn’t doing IVF. A massive weight of unconscious stress lifted from my whole being. Stress had trailed me on this journey, starting to build up behind the curtains from about the eight month mark. I didn’t notice it was building so high and wide. But it was massive.
I started doing guided meditations and visualisations about falling pregnant, healthy wombs, lots of healthy eggs, etc. I gave up coffee. I read Better Pregnancy on tips for optimal health for a baby’s development. I bought so many powdered Chinese herbs that my morning green smoothies were near disgusting. All for the greater good. I didn’t mind.
I read The Body Ecology Diet. I cut down gluten, cut out all refined sugars, I drank tea of Pau D’arco and Cats Claw. I started taking probiotics and making my own fermented vegetables. I was taking Chlorella and Spirulina and ended the day with a little lime or apple cider vinegar in my water. I was taking Estroblock to rid synthetic oestrogens from my body.
I completed a course on Low-Tox Living and tweaked my whole existence into natural and organic. I replaced my “Earth Friendly” cleaning products with bi-carb and water+vinegar+eucalyptus spray. I used bi-carb to brush my teeth. I replaced my organic shampoo with bi-carb and my conditioner with Apple Cider Vinegar. I did it all.
Then I had Tapping and EFT sessions.
Still an empty womb.
The next month I cried to my husband like I hadn’t cried before. Not because I wasn’t pregnant, but because I was glimpsing the reality of never knowing myself as a mother. We all grow up with a sense of knowing who we are and I always knew myself as a mother. I knew it. I was now mourning the concept I held of myself. On the lounge, heaving my breaths from crying, I was feeling into a new reality, adopting a whole new version of myself that was different to the person I thought I was. To lose yourself is the most vulnerable feeling I’ve ever experienced.
You can’t take a holiday from your head. So, I just kept looking for ways to appease it. I looked for new approaches, I did more meditation, I found all the positives in my current lifestyle and I considered the downsides of having children.
Sometimes, that even helped.
October 2015. We wake up to the smell of freshly home-baked bread. Our home smells delicious and we stay in bed being husband and wife, eventually getting up for a shower. We move around each other together in the kitchen like synchronised swimmers. He cuts the bread, I reach over and smell it while I put the kettle on. He gets out the tea bags and as he lowers the tea-bags I slide the mugs in under them. I get out the butter while he is reaching for the vegemite. We poetically make breakfast without commenting on the beautiful dance that’s going in in our kitchen. Our couch is L-shaped and perched up against the floor-to-ceiling window looking out to sea and, as I stretch out on one side, he takes up the other. We cheers fingers (in place of cheersing forks, a habit borne from not drinking to cheers glasses) and started on our breakfast.
The clarity of the whole routine mentally slaps me.
For the first time, I appreciate just how damned good our world is, just the way it is.
Something shifts deep within.
I slip into a beautiful meditation and visualise something that is so inspiring to me, as a life to lead, that I have tears running down my face. This vision is where I want to take my life. Maybe there’s a baby in it and maybe there isn’t, but the void has broadened to a much bigger picture now and I realise that my legacy can be much more significant than someone who looks like me.
My world grows. My yearning and baby-void quietens. I feel motivated and I feel inspired. This contrast from the desperation that consumed a part of me 24/7 over the last three and a half years is altogether shocking, relieving and utterly inspiring.
Over Christmas I let the new version of me linger in the background, wondering how to progress the concept. By February I am honing in and make the decision that I want to work with high school students.
Suddenly it feels almost selfish to raise only my own children when there are literally thousands in Australia alone who could use energy that I, as a non-parent, have available to give.
April 2016 I started in a mentoring program working with teenage girls. I’m paired with a girl named Eloise. We hit it off well and on our second meeting it occurred to me that she’s so well balanced (at least on the surface), that I actually feel a little redundant in this mentoring relationship. In the middle of the night, when senses are heightened and emotions are amplified, my feelings of being unneeded swelled as I mourned this opportunity to feel like a parent. I realised that it was me who completely needed Eloise more than she needed me.
The next day Eloise opened up to me a little about some of the challenges she’d been facing and it was a hug to my ears that maybe she might need me too, even if only as someone to admit things to.
Now that I’m in this program I recognise that I want more. I whole-heartedly appreciate the path I’m on. I’m ready to dedicate my energy to working with people who know there’s a great life out there for them if they can only figure out how to access it.
It’s certainly not the case that I’ve completely turned my back on having children – not at all, not in my heart. But in the process of ‘trying’ and moving through this challenge of mine, I’ve realised that the challenge itself really was mine to own: my education, my vehicle to move me from where I was to where I intuitively wanted to be, my understanding of the way I can contribute to the world.
I’ve realised our challenges aren’t necessarily our obstacles. They can be gifts to carry us to bigger visions for ourselves, bigger lives, bigger contributions. They’re steering devices aiming us toward our purpose. I feel all of my life experiences accrued to qualify me for this role if I dared to think so grand about myself. I thought it was going to play out in children of my own, but I now appreciate that it’s so much more than that. I feel as if I just woke up to my true purpose in this life to work with hundreds of people trying to figure out their way.
I feel I needed to be challenged in this way in order to transition through all of the emotions I have so richly experienced so I could arrive at this realisation of who I am. I have both lost and found myself during this emotional expedition and I now have nothing but appreciation and gratitude for every twist and turn that helped me to arrive here. I truly feel that I am here to serve humanity and I now have the capacity to do so.
M: 0410 338 236
Sherrie is a mentor and a writer with the intention of inspiring people to love their challenges.