Today I have decided to share something that has been with me for the last month. Although it is rather abrupt, I feel like there is no formal way to introduce this post, rather than to say I am speaking woman to woman.
Last month, I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). And I must say, it rocked me like I would not have guessed. I am in my early twenties, and I have no desire to have children right at this moment, but I cannot even begin to describe the disempowerment that I felt. Personally, my own belief of being a woman was being able to nurture and raise my own children with the man that I love. Being presented with this information and thinking through the possibility that I may not be able to have children, turned my world upside down.
My friends and family have been incredibly supportive and I am aware that there are many options available now to assist women to have children. However, I felt like I had been thrown all over the place- my dreams and expectations of being a woman had suddenly been snatched. Having my desire of having a baby flipped into a battle or a struggle (that seemed to be a ‘right’ of womanhood) really affected me more than I thought it would. For the first couple of weeks, hearing other women talk about when they were pregnant or seeing families in the supermarket made me cry. My boyfriend took me to see Jurassic Park for the first time (I thought dinosaurs- excellent distraction!) and it turns out there is a woman trying to convince her husband to like/have kids. Everywhere I went, I felt like I couldn’t escape from seeing mothers and babies and feeling like a failure.
These are still very raw emotions but I wanted to share this experience with you, woman to woman. Because in the last few days I have reached some new perspectives about what it is to be me, or who I am as a woman. On mother’s day, my sister and I planned a surprise morning picnic for my mum, as we were both working that day. It went brilliantly, but as I returned my boyfriend’s car and he was driving me to work, I suddenly burst into tears. He pulled up outside my work in the loading dock, put his arm around me and asked me if I was ok. Spluttering, I asked him, “What if I don’t have a Mother’s day? I love you so much and want you to be a Dad”. I felt like a little girl’s dreams had been shattered and I didn’t know what to do. It was like I was grieving the loss of something I had wanted for the future. All of these outbursts were raw and confronting, but they were important to release and manage my emotions. And as I’ve moved past that initial stage, I’ve realised that the whole time I have been actually experiencing the beauty of being a woman: vulnerability and strength.
Being vulnerable to myself and acknowledging that “I’m not Ok- and that’s OK” has always been a difficult step for me. But knowing myself and my desires develops a strength in who I am. I had always based my understandings of being a woman on the dream that I would have my own family. I can imagine that it is one of the most incredible experiences of being a woman, however, I now realise that my black and white belief that the pinnacle of womanhood is having a family, is wrong. I was viewing it as an achievement or an outcome, not as a path of many journeys and experiences. I have the utmost desire to have a child and build a family- but whether or not it comes to pass does not determine the success of the woman I am. I am a woman, regardless of anything that comes my way. My identity is not determined by expectations, but the day-to-day choices and experiences that build my strength and character. I have a choice in what I choose to believe about who I am – and these choices cannot be measured.
Together, we are women- and I believe that from speaking ‘woman to woman’, we can make each other stronger. I hope one day to experience the joy and amazing blessing of being a mum- but I am not a failure of a woman if I don't. I know that my desire will be met: maybe in a completely unexpected way, but I have the strength to believe.
- Em x