Time to take off the mask – again
I am reposting this from last December. I have just returned from a hospital admission for another miscarriage this week and I wanted to repost by way of explanation for why I won’t be blogging on this site until I feel a bit better. I am going to concentrate on my Diary of a Miracle blog to help me through this time and I would love if you would continue to journey with me there for the time being. Thanks to everyone who has contacted me over the past few days via texts and e-mails. I am so grateful for your support xxxx
I have been inspired by Lorna, a regular commentator on this blog, and her courage recently, in appearing on a national TV programme, to talk about her fertility issues. I say courage, because there is still a taboo about speaking publicly of your infertility. We just don’t talk about it openly in society. Because it is such an emotive and indeed private subject, many couples find it difficult to discuss what one writer has called the baby-shaped hole in their lives. The subject smacks of failure. Somehow there is something not right about you – you have failed in the basic task of becoming a mother. I hasten to add that Lorna is in no way a failure – in fact she has two beautiful children already, but is having difficulty conceiving a third baby. I speak instead of my own perceived sense of failure in my inability to conceive. I feel judged by a society which places family at the centre of things, especially at Christmas time. The reason why I am writing this today is because I have had several discussions with Lorna, arising out of my earlier post on wearing a mask. I admit that I have worn a mask since starting this blog – the mask has been one that has hidden my true self, because I have felt a failure. It is easier to write about how my cancer experience has enriched my life, than to admit the other darker truth. So I have striven to write mostly about these positive experiences, deliberately hiding the other truth behind a mask of positivity. The truth is that infertility is the dark legacy of cancer I hide. I have hidden it because I wanted this blog to be about hope and I made the decision to write about my lack of hope in another blog, which some of you have already figured out. So, I switch masks, between hope and despair, as I switch from one blog to another.
Thinking back on another blog post recently- the bozos on the bus – I felt a bit of a hypocrite when I read one comment which said that we do each other no favours by hiding our truth from each other. As a young woman newly diagnosed with cancer, I only wanted to hear that there would be a good outcome – I searched for stories online of women who had gone on to have healthy babies after chemotherapy, and clung onto those stories like a drowning woman holds onto a life raft. And those stories are out there, so please take heart from them if you are also looking for hope. I wanted so much to be that success story but I am finding it harder to hold onto that hope. I write all of this today, not to discourage anyone, but so that those who are experiencing fertility difficulties after chemotherapy know that they are not alone in their despair.
In re-reading my Christmas Eve post, I feel a deep sense of irony. I wrote it in great hope and expectation, because I had taken a pregnancy test earlier in the week and it had been positive. It was my precious Christmas miracle. However, the miracle was short-lived, because not long after writing my Christmas Eve post, I started to miscarry.
Lorna mentioned to me last week that in looking at my happy smiling santa-hatted profile picture on Twitter that it was hard to imagine anything was wrong in my life, and I told her that was my mask. To the outside world, I am so together. Someone told me once that I was their poster girl for surviving cancer, but the truth is I am not, because underneath the facade of having it all together, I am filled with a deep despair and hopelessness and rage at this legacy of cancer.
So today, I am taking off the mask, I am admitting that I am just a bozo on the bus, for whom sometimes, cancer is not the life-affirming, positive experience I write of. It can also rob you of precious things, and leave your spirit broken, your hopes and dreams shattered. Sometimes cancer just sucks..and this is one of those times.