Nicole, aged 40, is unable to have children because of existing pre-cancerous cells in her womb. And because of this, she is not eligible for IVF treatment. This is Nicole’s story.
Nicole was 32 when she got married to Andy, and that was when they started trying for a baby. For the first 3 years of them trying, her periods were very irregular and she would experience excessive bleeding for more than 20 days at a time. Her doctor told her that it was due to “hormonal changes”. She brushed it off, not thinking much about it, thinking she was invincible. “I thought nothing was going to happen to me.” she said.
She was then put on medication to regulate her periods. Her womb was scanned and was told her Fallopian tubes were clear and that her eggs were healthy. At that point, she started blaming her husband Andy, saying it was because of his (very slightly) low sperm count. She said, “But all we needed was ONE sperm to make it work.”
During that time, a lot of Nicole’s friends got married (and she snapped her fingers), “They got pregnant, just like that.” Then her friends had their first kids, and everyone would start asking her, “Hey, so when’s your turn? Have you seen a doctor?”. She took a deep breath and said, “It was hard, everybody around me was getting pregnant.”
“I used to think what’s wrong with me? I used to cry myself to sleep. When I turned 37, my biological clock was ticking. I felt anxious. I kept asking myself over and over again, what have I done wrong? Is it because God doesn’t want me to have a baby?”
When Nicole turned 39, she started bleeding heavily again. She shared two experiences of her having bled so much, once having a coffee with one of her best friends, and another time, just after her holiday with her husband. And so after that, she went to see a specialist. When the results came back, Nicole, accompanied by her god-sister, went back to see the specialist together.
The specialist asked, “Is your mum or husband with you?”
To which Nicole replied, “No, but I do have my god-sister with me.”
“I actually haven’t got very good news for you, it looks like you might have to get a hysterectomy.”
She felt like it was a death sentence. Her god-sister started bawling her eyes out. The doctor was trying to explain it to Nicole but she was in shock, she just couldn’t understand it. They were brought into a little room, and that was when it hit her. “If I have a hysterectomy, that’s going to completely deplete my chances of having a baby, ever. There’s no turning back if I do it. Then I started crying as I realized the severity of the decision.”
Her world collapsed. She said she will only ever be able to feel the desire and the yearning to have children. She described herself as “barren”. She felt it was so unfair, she loved kids, and she knew she would have been a really good mother. She said she can never be complete. “I’m never gonna be a mother, ever…. My family has no history of cancer, so why me?” So for nearly 3 weeks, she cried her eyes out. She started blaming herself. She went and got a second and third opinion. And they all said to her, that time was working against her. They all said she needed a hysterectomy.
Tears rolled down her cheeks, “Andy and I would fantasize about what names to name our kids. We were going to convert the study into a nursery. A friend suggested we buy little clothes and onesies. We even tried different types of superstitions, but they were all false hopes.” Then she said, “I grieved, then I had to face reality. I couldn’t keep moping. I started playing golf and mahjong. I did whatever I wanted. But at the back of my mind, when I see other peoples’ kids, I know I’m never gonna be a mother. So I pour all my love to the kids around me. It doesn’t change the fact that I still love children. I’m very lucky to be working with children. But the void is there. It’s something I can never give Andy. I can only look at other peoples’ kids and imagine what it would be like.”
On her husband, she says, “My heart aches for Andy because I know he wants a kid. You can see the joy in him when there are kids around him. Kids gravitate towards him. He’ll play games with them. He even has toys from when he was a kid that he has saved, for when he has his own. I know he longs for a child too, and I can’t give it to him. I’ve asked him to remarry (she laughs). But he says we have each other and that he wants to grow old with me.”
“It’s not the end of the world. Life still has to push on. I’m still allowed to go to a corner and cry. There’s no shame in it. I’m allowed to have those times to cry in front of my friends. There are ups and downs, but they’re mostly up. I don’t like going back to that place (depression). You can still plan your life without kids. After I opened up about my situation, I realized that there were people who were going through similar issues. You just gotta make the best out of the situation.”
Nicole and I known each other since we were in our late teens, so this interview was hard to do, as she is one of my very best friends. She has been coming to Perth to visit me and my family every year. During the interview, we both cried. My heart ached so much. And as I wrote her story, I found it hard to fight back my tears. She is my friend, she is in pain, and there’s nothing I can do to help her. The only way I know how, is to help her tell her story. I find peace in knowing that she has a husband that loves her dearly and has stood by her this whole time. I also find peace in knowing she has a supportive family and a wonderful network of friends around her. Til we see each other again, I love you Nicole xxx