I know few women like Trine, whom you’re meeting today. Trine is an entrepreneur and phenomenally talented at everything she does. I know her from her time as project manager at Global Dignity, for which she invited me to speak years ago. A mega cool initiative that aims at empowering young girls and boys and load them with self-love, empathy and insight into themselves and others through speaks and community feel.
Something I only realised when she sent me a loving note during my treatment was that Trine also had to go through treatment to have her lovely kid. That’s how it is, it’s not like you introduce yourself like that, right? In many ways, you just want to forget. Forgetfulness heals many a wound.
But the fact that she reached out back then, just like so many of you did – it means something. It makes you realise that you are not alone. No one should ever feel like they’re alone! Please welcome Trine’s story.
Childlessness moved into our relationship in 2013.
It didn’t burst through our doors in the same way as our daughter would eventually end up doing later on. It came sneaking. Little by little. Just like the seasons keep coming and going, it rolled into our lives as silently as the leaves change colours. Gradually, and then suddenly. It started out like butterflies in my stomach every time the ovulation test was positive, and a deep sigh every time the pregnancy test was negative. It was part of our daily rituals, by which we meticulously described everything from my temperature and moods to my sleeping patterns and detailed observations about the climate down south (note: my vagina; not Spain). It emerged in my envy towards the baby happiness of others, my shame towards the defects of my body and my anger and frustration directed towards not being able to fulfil my fucking humble wish of having a kid. It was there during Christmas Eves, birthdays and travels. And then I’ll tell you it was there in the bedroom as well, where something that used to be better than pizza (shout out to Jonas!) now had become tiring and awkward. It was with me at work all over the world, in boring hotel rooms and on grand adventures. It constantly hung across my shoulders as a heavy rucksack. I so wanted to be pregnant, but no matter what I did, the two lines just wouldn’t appear.
I visualised. I manifested. I prayed to the universe, to God, to L. Ron Hubbard and to Buddha. I did a 6-hour Nupo diet, I stopped drinking red wine, I stopped eating tuna. I went on stress-relieving retreats, where I lowered my useless body into water and asked it telepathically to just start working. I listened to people’s mad tips and ideas and believed gullibly their premise circling around it probably just being my own fault because I ‘was so busy’ and that I ‘just needed to relax.’
I tried everything.
Our time in fertility treatment is still something I view as some of the most challenging we’ve been through. I often describe having become a mum as standing at the epicentre of an earthquake that only you feel, and the same sensation is what characterised my fertility treatment. I felt as if my insides were twisting and turning, and that my foundation was squeaking and falling apart and that no one but me was able to sense it. The only fixed point in our fight was humour. Allowing ourselves to laugh out loud at all of the absurd situations we found ourselves in. That’s what energised us and acted as a protective shield against unhappiness.
Another thing in which I always found comfort was reading about other women who’d escaped their childlessness. I scrolled through what felt like the entire internet and my entire stomach on the hunt for fairytales. It was my lighthouse in the fog, and something that gave me infinite amounts of hope and extra strength. So, dear you, if you’re currently reading this with blue needle marks on your belly skin, I here present to you the story of when I succeeded. I hope it will give you some hope, and I hope it will make you laugh. Because you probably need that, and you’ve definitely deserved it.
My daughter’s conception! … I mean, you know what I mean.
After some failed insemination attempts, I once again found myself with my legs in the hoops, my bum across the edge of the turquoise bed and a dry doctor between my thighs, and the sentiment was – to put it mildly – a bit mellow. We were to decide whether we wanted to invest DKK 50,000 on trying out a new method, or whether we wanted to give it another go and intensify the amount of hormones. We chose the latter. And you can’t eat or inhale or in any other way integrate these hormones into your body by means of already existing external body orifices. They must be injected into your belly skin through a needle the size of a garden hose! I am terrified of needles and will faint when faced with syringes.
My husband made an Ocean’s Eleven worthy plan for us. He’d prepare the needle, hand it over to me, after which I – lying down in order not to hurt my head when fainting – was supposed to insert and detonate the needle myself! Perfect, right? My husband was then supposed to remove it from my belly so that I wouldn’t get stuck in an endless loop (pass out – wake up – see the needle again – pass out – wake up – see the needle again…). The plan was eminent. We were both proud and, despite needle-induced anxiety, super thrilled. You may already have guessed that it didn’t quite go as planned.
My husband kept his part of the deal and prepared the needle like a pro. And after what I’d still describe as his life’s best pep talk, I managed to insert the needle into my belly and pull the trigger. Honestly – I really thought it stung, and I clearly remember thinking that it wasn’t super practical to have such a thin container for such a big amount of liquid. I fainted – completely according to plan, but woke up again and was super proud of myself! Right until my husband uttered the now famous words; ‘wow, that’s weird – we don’t have enough for 15 days at all; we’ve spent much more than half of the amount!’ ‘Oh well, then we’ll just have to buy some more,’ I reply with a smile and glance out the window.
A few seconds later it occurs to us that it actually does sound more than just a bit mysterious. We realise that we’ve given me an overdose – that is, 10x the designated amount! PANIC! I admit that I called the poison line and perhaps expressed myself a bit unclearly (i.e.: ‘MY HUSBAND POISONED ME!’), but after a brief explanation of what really happened, they immediately hospitalise me for an examination. At this point, we actually find it quite hilarious. Of course, we’re shocked, but we’re mainly just giggling at our own stupidity. When we arrived at the emergency room, we were joking that he’d poisoned me to get access to my fortune (DKK 5,400 in a piggy bank).
When we see the medical student who’s on duty, we immediately sense that the situation makes her feel very uneasy, and she reminds us more of a shaking chihuahua than a doctor. We explain the situation with a laugh and ask (AS A JOKE!?), ‘it’s not lethal, right?’ Do you know what the lady replies??? YOU KNOW WHAT SHE REPLIES!! She says, ‘I can’t confirm or deny that at this point in time!’ WHAT THE FUCK? WHAT THE FUUUUCCCCKKK? What did you say?! Now the real drama starts… I’m COMPLETELY shocked and pass out immediately. Wake up on the floor a few minutes later and stare straight into Doctor Chihuahua’s face as she and my husband are holding up my legs vertically in the hope of moving some blood from my toes to my head. Being a solution-oriented woman, I obviously ask whether we can amputate my stomach so it won’t spread to the body. That’s not an option apparently. Modern medicine, my gosh. The only option is to just wait for the real doctor to appear 7 hours later. WELL, THEN! I’LL JUST GO AND DO THAT! At 7 o’clock, the doctor arrives and removes my death sentence with a huge laugh. He tells me not to worry, but suggests taking a month’s break from fertility treatment. We gratefully agree to a small break.
14 days after, my husband had his birthday (if you know what I mean), and 30 days after that, we got our first positive pregnancy test. 36 weeks later, our daughter was born. She is called Liva, and her favourite foods are Christmas sweets.
Our early days together were tough, and I found it hard to adjust to being a mum. Something I’ve come to learn is similar among lots of women who have been through fertility treatment. Apparently, our concerns have been cauterised onto our soul during the treatments, making it hard for us to let go of them again. My time with childlessness prepared me for being a mum in ways I’d never asked nor imagined. It gave me the invaluable gift of feeling myself and my husband come together and tackle life’s difficulties with laughter and unity. And then it gave me my Liva. My teeny tiny egg, which took its time, but which was so right and which has enriched my life more than I could ever have hoped for.
Life in fertility treatment is a mother fucking hard cookie to get through, and I sympathise with you. So deeply. It’s so unfair. I’d give you all of my Christmas presents and all of my fries, if only it could help.
I sincerely hope that your day is soon coming.