Silencing the shame

We share so much of our lives nowadays on social media and with the internet it seems nothing is off-limits, yet there are some subjects that people are still too scared to admit too, some subjects that are still taboo. A termination, it still carries this judgement and stigma that leads so many women to feeling alone and ashamed.

I like to think I am a pretty honest person but recently I have been hit with a lot of health issues and I found myself in a situation I never thought I would be in, and with that situation came a wave of embarrassment and shame, shame that I feel isn’t valid, shame that I feel compelled to silence.

While on holiday this year I took ill, I was exhausted, had no energy to play with my daughters, I would need to nap for hours each day just to make it until tea time. Some days it was a struggle to even lift my head from my pillow. Adding to this exhaustion was a crippling pain in the left hand side of my stomach that would hinder me walking, moving and even sleeping. It had got so bad that the only way I could sleep was to curl up with my legs pulled right up into my chest. It felt just like my “endo” pain and I was sure my Endometriosis had finally returned with a vengeance. I went to my local GP with my concerns who ran some routine tests and one test came back with shocking results.

Pregnant!. I was pregnant, by pure chance, by pure accident I had somehow got pregnant naturally. After years of IVF and two rounds, my body had done what I had always wanted it to do, got pregnant. Shocked, I wasn’t given time to process this result, my GP had me booked in for an emergency scan at our local hospital to see what was giving me all the pain and making me so ill.

My husband and I attended the scan in a little bubble, a complete whirlwind of questions and shock. During the scan a pregnancy was confirmed, one pregnancy. Then the consultant found what was causing and giving me the pain, the scan showed a cyst. A 20cm cyst on my left ovary that the consultant believed has been aggravated by the pressure of the pregnancy and the hormones. We sat with the consultant who talked us through our various options and told us the pregnancy would be high risk and I would need scanned continuously to ensure the cyst wasn’t close to repute. Every time the pregnancy was measured the cyst would also need measured. I was warned the pregnancy would likely be a very painful pregnancy with the cyst growing alongside the pregnancy. But that they could support me if I chose to continue with the pregnancy. They advised I could not receive treatment for the cyst while pregnant and that treatment would have to wait until after the pregnancy.

With all this information in tow my husband and I headed home to discuss our choices. Should I persevere through the pain for the next eight months, could we cope with been parents to the girls with me been so ill. We had a week before we were due to attend the hospital again but I was back in the hospital within three days. My sickness developed quickly and I was unable to even hold water down, rushed back into hospital and put on endless drips and rehydration medication. More tests were run and the sickness wasn’t purely down to the cyst I was diagnosed with hyperemesis gravidarum. For those that don’t know hyperemesis gravidarum is extreme pregnancy sickness, not contained to just the morning, it is endless sickness 24/7 to the point of severe dehydration. I was unable to eat, unable to even hold down tiny sips of water.

After another day of being in hospital I was allowed home and given anti sickness medication to take every eight hours and told the medication would make me drowsy and I shouldn’t drive while I was taking the medication. At home the girls were being cared for by my parents and grandparents, Daddy was doing the nursery drop off and pick up and I spent another week so ill I could hardly get out of bed.

Then I made a decision, I knew I couldn’t continue like this for another eight months. I wasn’t able to be a mother to my two beautiful girls. They were watching their mother sleep on the sofa or throw up all day, how could I continue. I spoke with my husband and he agreed, together we decided to have a termination.

When I became a mother to my two beautiful twin daughters my role changed, who I was changed, my job was to ensure these girls had the best life possible, my job was to ensure I always put them first and their needs first. I had to make such a hard decision to ensure my girls could have their Mum back. I also had to be selfish and put myself and my health first. I knew physically I couldn’t cope another eight months with endless sickness, daily nausea and agonising pain from the cyst. So I decided to do something I never ever imagined I would, after having IVF it seems to be hypocritical to have a termination but I knew that it was the right choice for me.

Together in our decision my husband and I contacted the hospital to confirm our decision and to be put on the waiting list for surgery on the cyst.

Friday 21st Sept I had a termination and walking into the clinic I felt the shame and embarrassment that so many other woman feel. We have a choice and as a nation allow women to choose to have terminations but as a nation we have applied a stigma to that choice. I knew I had not taken the decision lightly and had to put my health and my twin girls first but I still felt ashamed. When family members were questioning what was wrong and what health issues I was having I found myself lying, I didn’t want their opinion, I didn’t want the embarrassment or the shame. So many women are dealing with these emotions alone, so many women have had terminations that have never told a soul out of fear of embarssement and shame. But I find it hard to not be honest about my journey and have made peace with my decision. I feel compelled to be honest to my followers and know I have made my decision for the better of my health and the better of my family. I feel that me talking out about my decision might give someone who is struggling to deal with a similar decision comfort, that they are not alone.

I am now currently feeling a million times better and able to be a mother to my twin daughters again. Hyperemesis gravidarum is without doubt the worst illness I have ever been through and I am in ore of any women that has been able to survive nine months been so so ill. I am still getting the pain from the cyst and will have to endure more surgery and treatment for the cyst and my ever-growing endometriosis. I am now just waiting for my date for surgery and to see what will happen with my reproductive health.

I am now ready to move forward with hopefully good health.

Nicola x



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