The painful truth behind the playful quip


People don’t mean to be hurtful, they don’t mean to be unkind. People are just generally nosey and volunteer unsolicited well-meaning advice. Sometimes I just smile and nod, other days I grit my teeth and try not to scream.

This is the typical conversation which frustrates me because it leads to one of the darkest corners of my life, something that I don’t want to talk about. With anyone.

Well Meaning Person: Do you have any children?

Me: No (insert polite laughter), My husband wouldn’t even allow me to have a goldfish until my pot-plant survives for more than 3 months.

WMP: Oh, but babies are different, they are special and they are so much a part of you that you won’t forget to water and feed them! You will learn to love them more than life itself.

Me: Ah huh.

WMP: You should really think about having children, they are so rewarding. You and your husband would make such good-looking babies. You are still young enough, and time slips away, I wouldn’t leave it too long….

It is at this stage which I often try to remind myself that he/she isn’t being deliberately malicious, they are just curious and maybe, interested in my life. Yet I am filled with the urge to yell, Shut up, leave me alone. We can’t have children.

I tried that once. Well, maybe not quite that rude, but the response I got was, ‘Why can’t you have children?’

Aaaaaaargh. What part of ‘Shut up, leave me alone’ did you NOT understand?

I don’t like talking about our infertility, to anyone. I resent anyone prying into my personal pain. I have problems finding the right words, and I find it agonising to even think about it. I am slowly coming to terms with the decisions we have made, and yet I shudder at how others would judge me for them. Everyday, I carry on with my life, my job and my responsibilities as if there’s nothing amiss, but not a single day goes by, do I go without that deep yearning I have for a child, and the profound ache in my heart that comes with it.

Maybe it is time I share our story. Maybe if I tell it, it will help me to move beyond that excruciating pain every time I think of it. It may stop my constant fear of being found out and being judged for our decisions.  Oh dear, I haven’t even started telling you our story, and my face is already wet with tears as I am thinking of my next sentence.

Sometime this month, would have been Michaela’s 7th birthday.

I have had IVF treatment since I was 23 years old. I still remember my first appointment with my fertility specialist. I was sitting in the waiting room, for my number to be called, so my bloods could be taken for tests. Next to me sat a woman in her early 40’s. She was elegantly dressed in what looked to be a very expensive designer clothes. Her ears, neck and wrists dripped with pearls and she wore  a beautiful stack of diamond rings on her ring finger. She turned and caught my eyes. She smiled as I fidgeted under her gaze.

‘Is this your first time?’ she asked me. I distinctly remembered the kindness in her voice.

I nodded nervously. ‘Yeah.’

She patted my hand. ‘Don’t worry. You are young. You will have no trouble.’

I thanked her for her reassurance. In an awkward attempt to make conversation, I asked her, ‘so how many times…. ‘

She smiled serenely as if to reassure me that I wasn’t offending her. ‘I have been doing this for 10 years. You never know,’ she looked up wistfully at the baby picture on the wall of the waiting room, ‘this might be my lucky cycle.’

Ten years? I remembered thinking. How can anyone put themselves through ten years of IVF? Isn’t Life trying to tell you something if you haven’t gotten pregnant after that many tries? Somebody please shoot me if I ever become so obsessed that I have lost that much perspective and insight! I promised myself there and then that when it is time, I will give up and get on with my life.

Little did I know.

I remember laughing at my specialist when he told me that the success rate of an IVF cycle was 30%. At the time, I told him that no one would offer their patient a surgical procedure with that kind of success rate. He said that unlike surgeons, he was an optimist. To him, it meant that every three women he treated, one couple will have the baby they desperately wanted.

Even that conversation did not prepare me for the amount of disappointments that followed. The first cycle I have ever had, I was so excited when all the tests showed that my body was responding enthusiastically to the hormonal treatments – so much so that they managed to harvest 10 eggs. Ten eggs?!! My partner and I were joking about a soccer team.  Two days later, when I presented for implantation, they told me that 5 eggs had not survived and did not fertilise.  I felt a little let down, but he reassured me that a volleyball team was fine too. I was given two embryos, while the others were put in deep freeze. Needless to say, the implantation was not successful, and only one embryo survived the thawing process at my next implantation cycle. That was not successful either. The whole process repeated itself. Cycle after cycle. Again and again. One disappointment after another.

Fast forward 8 years. I had spent over seventy thousand dollars, changed two specialists, endured hundreds of blood tests, ultrasounds and more than a dozen anaesthetics for egg harvests. I have had emergency surgery for an ectopic pregnancy, which was then complicated by postoperative haemorrhage, two spontaneous miscarriages, several D&C’s for non-viable pregnancies and so many episodes of morning sickness that I had lost count. During those years, I ran out of tears. I learnt not to celebrate or be hopeful with any positive results, I reminded myself to be patient.

It was a very difficult time in our lives. My husband (M) and I weren’t married at that stage (because we chose to save money for treatment rather than a wedding, and we couldn’t have time off from work at the same time), both of us were trying to get onto the surgical training program, and we did not tell anyone (not our family nor any of our friends). One of my spontaneous miscarriages at 8 weeks occurred whilst I was operating. my heart sank when I felt a slight gush between my legs. I finished the case, went to the bathroom, cleaned myself up, doubled over in pain from the cramps, and cried. Ten minutes later, I took some painkillers, washed my face, opened the bathroom door and carried on with the rest of the operating list. One of my D&C’s was done in the morning at 8am. I went home, slept it off, and then started my surgical on-call at 6pm that night.Through the years, we told no one, and I worked hard at hiding the treatments, the nausea and vomiting, and all the procedures from my colleagues. I didn’t want sympathy or questions. This was something personal and painful.

My father once told me that if I worked hard enough and wanted something bad enough, I can get anything I want in Life. I wanted to yell and scream at him for telling me a lie. No matter how good I was, how hard I tried and how much I wanted – I couldn’t have a baby. I realised, during those years, that sometimes I just simply have absolutely no control over my destiny.

Then, two months before my specialist exam, I found myself sitting in the waiting room for my usual blood test.

‘Hey Tiff.’ I looked up. It was my specialist. She waved me in. I sat down in front of her, and she smiled at me. ‘Do you know what today is?’

My head was still full of classifications for skin cancers and the reconstructive ladder from two whole days of studying, I could only look at her blankly.

‘You are twelve weeks today.’ When I just stared at her in stupefied silence. She reached over and touched my hand. ‘You are now in second trimester of your pregnancy.’

I was pregnant? I asked myself in shock. Of course I was. I was so used to miscarriages and non-viable pregnancies that I never allowed myself to believe tha I was pregnant in case of another disappointment. But now I am 12 weeks, the chance of me losing my pregnancy is minimal. It was as if something opened inside me. It was Hope. I was so excited I could barely write down the time of my first baby ultrasound before I left her office.  That night, M and I talked. We planned what we were going to do with our career in 6 months when the baby arrived, we dreaded what we were going to say to our parents, we argued about names, we calculated our finances. We held each other tightly, with his hand on my belly that night as we fell asleep in the early hours of the morning.

The next morning, both us blurry eyed from too much excitement, I drove M to the airport – he was leaving for an interstate conference which was booked over 6 months ago. He told me he couldn’t wait to get home in a week’s time, so that we could continue our debate on baby names. Then I drove to the hospital, to have my first baby ultrasound. I hummed to the music on the radio, and I vividly recall the happiness that bubbled inside me, I could barely keep a lid on it, it was threatening to overflow. I had forgotten about my looming exams; even the thought of having to do long hours of studying when I get home didn’t dent my elated mood.

Little did I know, that half hour later, my world would come crashing down around me.

The first inkling that something might be wrong occurred when the ultrasonographer went out to get two other colleagues. There was some whispering between them. They told me that it was most likely a girl. Then they asked me to wait. An elderly woman, with silver hair piled on top of her head in a loose knot came in and introduced herself. She was obviously a very experienced obstetric radiologist. She also had a go with the probe. She concentrated very hard on the screen and started to press quite hard on my belly. She asked me to change my position several times. Then she left, and I could hear her having a conversation with someone on the phone.

I laid there, resting my hands protectively on my flat tummy, and tried to make out the shapes and shades on the screen – but, like every other ultrasound I have ever tried to read, the picture looked like an abstract art of cows in a snowstorm. The silver-haired-lady walked in. She sat down beside the bed.

‘Tiff.’ She took a big breath. ‘The ultrasound is showing me an abnormality with the baby’s heart.’

With those words, within that split second after she had uttered them, I withdrew into myself. It was as if the world had suddenly gone from full Technicolor to black-white. She kept talking. I heard everything, but it was as if she was on the other side of a glass wall. The sound was muffled, and there was a loud buzzing noise in my head. I felt…. nothing. I was told to go straight to my specialist, so numbly, I did. The specialist sat me down and told me the implications of the findings. She told me that it was my decision what I wanted to do, and that termination was available up to 20 weeks of pregnancy. I wasn’t sure what expression I had on my face, but when I left her office, the receptionist kept asking if she could call someone for me. I smiled through a face that felt like it was carved out of a stone and decline. I drove home. I turned the radio off in the car. I couldn’t bear the noise and the normality that the radio represented.

I rang M. He was quiet on the phone. As a cardiac surgeon, he knew the implications of having a child with congenital heart disease. He sees the suffering of these patients and their families day in day out. He knew this particular condition, it was one with a bad prognosis. He told me that if we went ahead, one of us will have to stop working. He told me that we will be burying our child when she turns 13 if we were lucky. He told me that it wasn’t a life he would want for anyone, let alone his own daughter.

He wasn’t telling me anything that I didn’t know already. I have congenital heart disease. Mine wasn’t anything structural, but it affected my childhood and subsequent years. I spent a lot of time in hospital as a child, I saw things in hospital that a child wouldn’t normally know about. I met other sick children, their parents and all acopic behaviours that came with it. I was introduced to the concept of death before I turned 5 years old, and I experienced the sensation of dying at the age of 6. I suffered from pathological envy – of all the normal children that went to school everyday, kicked balls and played tag in the park. I endured the embarrassment of collapsing in public places and schools, lying on the ground, gasping for breath and helpless while strangers stared on with pity in their eyes.  I remember my brothers resenting having to visit me in the hospital, and spending hours sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms. I used to watch them play while cuddled in Dad’s lap, wishing I was the one climbing up the slide and digging in the sand. I was not allowed to socialise with other children in case I caught an illness, as one of the gastros I contracted from my brother tipped me over into heart failure. He cried when my mother explained what had happened (so that he wouldn’t do it again), he was upset because all he wanted to do, was to share his favourite cookie with me.

I remember feeling like I was 20 years old when I turned 13, even though by then, I was getting better, getting to do more things I had missed out on as a child, and going to school like any regular kid. I felt old at school, I couldn’t fathom why a conversation on who was friends with whom held so much fascination, and what one got for their birthdays was worth boasting about. I just wanted to reach my next one.

My experiences made me what I am today, and I am thankful for some of it but it was not a childhood I would have chosen, for myself and or anyone else. Was it worth the survival? I am not so sure. My condition is treated and stable, and I have been able to lead a very productive life, but severe structural congenital heart disease is on another completely different level of suffering. It means repeated open heart surgery throughout childhood and enduring multiple associated illnesses. Every hours in the day will evolve around medications, treatments, and painful tests. All this would be for nothing but suffering a short 10-15 year life-span, which consisted only of limited moments of true care-free quality. It was be a life filled with restriction and fear.

Then there were the selfish thoughts which I was afraid of exploring. Was I strong enough to watch my child endure all this, as there was no doubt that I would love her so much that it would be as if I myself was going through her suffering. And I knew how much harder it would be, second time round and seeing it happening to someone I love rather than myself. Would my world collapse when she dies? Would my marriage survive all this? Was I prepared to give up my career for a decade or more and not develop resentment for doing so? Would I regret or hate myself when I see her suffer? Thoughts that I knew I would be judged on by others.

I thought of talking to my mother, but she didn’t know and I wasn’t married, it was going to be a conversation with a lot more issues than the ones I was facing now. I wanted to know what it was like for her to watch me during my childhood. She didn’t know that I had problems until I was born, but if she did, would she have made a different decision?

So we made our decision, and as it would have it, I was due for a long weekend at work, so I booked in with my obstetrician.  I asked M if we were doing the right thing. He told me that we were doing what was right for us. I asked him if he was upset. He said that there was no point in getting upset about something we had no control over. I begged him to come home. He told me that there was no point for him to fly home as it wasn’t going to change anything, he had a presentation to do and it was important to his career. I didn’t dare to be demanding, and so I didn’t argue. I told myself that one day I may be able to forgive him, but I would never forget that he wasn’t here when I needed him most.

I checked myself into hospital on the Friday and had my procedure. I woke up and found that my face was wet and my fair was saturated with my tears. I was kept overnight because there was no one home with me. I checked out the next day, and couldn’t bear the thought of having polite conversation with a taxi driver, so I walked home. It took 45 minutes. When I unlocked the front door of my house and sat down on the lounge, I curled up in physical pain and cried. I didn’t move for 24 hours.

On Sunday, M came home, and it was as if nothing had happened over the week he was away. We talked about his trip and the conference. We talked about the friends he caught up with, and the places he visited while he was there.  Monday came and we both went back to work and back to our normal routine. It wasn’t as if he was avoiding the subject, he didn’t cut me short when I spoke about it. He was just quiet and listened to whatever I needed to say. We talked about the possibility of starting another cycle of treatment after my exams, and he told me that I needed three months to allow my body and mind to heal. The conversations were always devoid of any emotional overlay. One would have thought we were talking about the weather. He would then ask about my studies, and how much more I had to do before the exams. Life moved on.

Three months flew by, my exams were successful and we had just been out to celebrate.  That night. we were both lying in bed, listening to each other’s breathing, waiting for sleep to overcome us.

He suddenly spoke into the silence.  ‘When I was on the plane over, I decided on Michaela, but we would call her Mischka.’

It was then I realised. He was grieving for our daughter.


WMP: But why wouldn’t you want to have babies?

Me: (another polite laughter), I don’t need children when I have patients. They keep me busy enough and I can’t even tell them off when I want to.

I stopped IVF treatment a few years ago. It was enough. I have tried for over 12 years and I was out of tears.


75 thoughts on “The painful truth behind the playful quip

    • Thank you for the hugs. You have no idea how much it means to me to see your second comment. I think you have just made me realise why it has been so painful. I guess I have always feared that I have not done the right thing. Thank you. *hugs back*

  1. Oh my dear. while my infertility story is different than yours (as they all are), it is filled with many of the same emotions. I am sorry for your struggles and heartaches. I am especially sorry you had to go through it without the support of friends and family (I too kept our trials a secret from most), but the loneliness is terrible.

    Thanks for sharing your story, I think only through removing the secrecy from infertility do we begin to chip away at the layers of pain.

    • Thank you for your kind words…. They made me a little teary (and I thought I had none left!) Everyone certainly have their stories and I am sure you have been through tough times yourself. Hugs to you also.

    • Thank you! I think all of us are strong, everyone finds their strength when needed. I sincerely hope that you would never have to go through something this painful to find your strength! Thank you for reading my story.

  2. So much pain. I’m sorry that you went through that. I will keep it in mind when I’m making small talk with people. You just never know what causes other people pain.

    • So true about small talk, isn’t it?! I am sure you yourself have been through similar experience of not wanting to talk about something painful. I don’t think people mean to hurt our feelings, but it’s ridiculous having to walk on eggshells all the time in case of someone else’s sensitivities. I personally take the hint when I sense someone doesn’t want to talk about it! I have been known to put my foot in my mouth too sometimes 😀

  3. I don’t know how well this comes across on a screen from someone you have never met, but…I’m sorry. I’m sorry for your loss, especially since it is one that unaware people remind you of more frequently than needed.

    • Hello!! Thank you for reading and commenting. I always love having new people to visit and chip in. The fact that you are leaving a comment means that my post has touched you in some way and that’s the greatest compliment you can give me. So thank you for your empathy, for allowing me to share my story with you and for brightening up my day. I will give you a hug too. 🙂

  4. We presume so much when what we should do is be quiet (actually shut the **** up). Pointing out how “good” we might be in a certain circumstance doesn’t over ride any pain we may be experiencing or wash away our pain. Not being able to exercise that potential must unbearable. Love and hugs to you beautiful life-giver !

    • Thank you QP. I think sometimes we get on with life and sweep too much ‘under the carpet’. I used to think that one day, all will catch up with me and I will be a complete sobbing mess. But I have found that my work has always given me perspective, shown me that life could be worse and with things that I can’t change, I will just have to make the best of it! You and I probably see things in life that doesn’t allow us to focus (or wallow) too much in ourselves 🙂 Love and hugs back at ya!

  5. Thank you for sharing you heartbreaking story. You have a strength I can only ever hope for. And for the record, had I been faced with a similar decision I would have done the same. Hugs.

    • Lots of hugs coming your way! Your affirmation means a lot to me, it helps to give me some peace with my decision, so I thank you! I have been astounded by the support from everyone on my blogosphere! I don’t know whether I would ever be brave enough to talk about it with someone face to face, but this little step forward of sharing it on my blog has certainly given me some encouragement. My heart is definitely on the mend. xo

  6. Thank you… I am 22 and we already had 3 failed IVF cycle.. We are not married either because we decided to put money towards this “baby fund” but the last one was… So we are taking a.littlt break and organising something happy: a wedding. We are also starting to consider adoption…
    Re talking about the struggle: I swept under the rug the so many traumatic experience and then, I decided that I did not want to go through another experience like that alone… Usually people believe that because you are 22 years old children will come easily and you shouldn’t worry about it before 30. In the end, our issues helped some of our friends as they decided to get tested. It comforting to see that even if we are not blessed with a child we can still be ok, we can still be happy and protect our relationship. Sometimes it feels like, if we fail, either one of us or our relationship won’t make it.. Thank you for sharing and showing me that it is possible to make lemonade 😉

    • I am so sorry you have to go through it too. It is hard and heartbreaking, unfortunately it doesn’t get easier with time. Concentrate on each other and making each other happy. That’s one of the most important things I have learnt from all this. Good luck, and even if you don’t succeed, make great lemonade 🙂

  7. Tiff, you always continue to inspire me and awe me with your strength and just plain sheer awesomeness. Thank you for sharing this story with us, I imagine it must have been really painful. Hugs and more hugs.

    • Thanks Z. I would love to say… As Po did in Kung Fu Panda, there is no price for awesomeness 😀 I wish I can be awesome without having to go through the pain… But life has other plans. Thank you for your beautiful hugs, hope you had a great vacation. xo

  8. ‘The world had gone from technicolor to black-white.’ A sentence that sums up everything in that moment so completely.
    I’m so sorry for your loss. For all of your losses. You’re right too: we think we’re in control of our destiny, but when it comes down to the fundamentals of life and death we have no control whatsoever. We may feel complicit in our choices (even when the spectrum is only of options we’d rather not face) but ultimately we’re only playing with the hand we’ve been dealt and those cards can be totally shitty beyond our worst nightmares. When I went through something far less horrific than you had to it was the complicitness (not a word, but it’s the only one I can think of) that caused the most pain. If it’s any consolation, your decision would have been brutally painful either way. You made the right choice for you having been given an option with no good outcomes.
    I admire your openness and courage.
    If only there was a perfect response to give to the small talk.

    • Thank you for your beautiful words. You have opened my eyes… Now that you have pointed it out, I didn’t really have much to chose from, did I?! And here I was so worried that people would judge me for my the ‘wrong’ decision. *sigh* Life can really throw us curve balls huh?
      Now, you naughty patient, go and get that bloody elbow of yours looked at by a doctor and I expect a report at your next post!!! xo

  9. I am sorry to hear about your experience. It is annoying that people tell you things that everyone knows. There is no woman who does not know that there is a biological clock, so it does not make sense for people to tell you that there is one. I sometimes does the same thing not necessarily regarding the same topics, and I should be more thoughtful and respectful.

    Hopefully you will find a way to deal with situations in a way that does not upset you since it is unlikely that people will stop asking the same question. Also even if it is was the case that people did not want kids by choice, it should be respected as well.

    • So true. Sometimes what annoys me more is the fact that they feel they have to talk you into wanting children. I think when ppl ask if you have children, and the answer is no, ppl should just leave it at that!!!!

  10. This is such a heartfelt story sprinkled with many layers of courage. Your honesty is endearing and I’m left with a huge appreciation for my own kids. Thanks for a great post. I need to hug someone now.

    • Hey John! Thank you for the cyber hug. I am starting to accept my decision as the years go by. That’s why I don’t do any kids work, some days I still find it difficult to be around them. It’s particularly awkward at the moment because all our friends are having or have children. Hopefully I will get over that soon.

  11. you are not alone. you made the right decision. of your own childhood, with a milder heart condition, you say “it was not a childhood I would have chosen, for myself and or anyone else.” and so you did not choose that childhood, in an even worse form, for your daughter.
    when i worked in the ICU, i acutely felt that we were keeping people dying, rather than keeping them alive. your choice prevented a prolonged death with survival only suffering. you describe a desperately difficult life affirming choice made to protect your daughter rather than fulfill your own desire for a daughter.
    your last sentence was the one that ultimately brought me to tears–imagining the pain of believing you were going through the heart break alone, then realizing that the person you loved most was feeling the pain of the loss alongside you, slowly processing and expressing it in his own way.
    so many layers of hurt, so many layers of strength.
    thank you for doing the opposite of small talk in sharing this honest and ultimately inspiring story–that helps me to know that whatever the outcome of our own infertility treatments, we can still be okay.
    for my own small talk, i use quick honesty and change the subject.
    “no kids yet. we’ll see what happens”
    would simple honesty work for you? “no kids. we tried. it didn’t work, next subject.”

    • Hi! Thank you for come by and leaving a comment. I am so sorry you are going through the trials of infertility too and I sincerely wish you all the luck. I think the hardest thing to overcome about infertility (which I am still struggling with), is that no matter the fact that I have tried so hard and so long, it doesn’t take away the feeling that I have somehow ‘failed’. Apart from not bring able to fulfill the desire of having children, for a high achiever such as myself, any form of failure is hard to admit to. But I think as time goes by, I may be able to simply say, ‘no children, we tried but no success.’ You will find that when you say this people usually feel the need to make you feel better or appear concerned, so they try to find out why or start giving out unsolicited advice, or tell you stories of people who stopped trying and got pregnant, etc etc etc. I think there is no polite way to tell people to leave the conversation because if they had insight, they would have left the conversation when I said No. I so hope your treatments will be successful. The only advice I have for someone going through treatment is that don’t stop living and don’t stop loving your partner, because if it all fails, these are the two things that will give you the most joy. Thank you for coming by, and most of all for your kind reassuring words. A ‘all the best’ hug to you!

  12. This is a very powerful and heart-wrenching share, Tiff. For some reason, and I have yet to decipher it, I seem to be drawn (or vice-versa) to women’s stories of infertility and the painful decisions that come along with it ( I follow a few blogs that deal with that). So while this isn’t new (like that lady you met that first time), it’s no less difficult to manage the peaks and valleys of your journey. I too offer my heart out to you and M and the wee ones who visited briefly on our plane of existence 🙂

    We had a miscarriage once when we were trying to get pregnant. It was sad, and we too grieved. We used to pick leaves for my wife’s birthday – a sort of tradition. And one day I found a tiny, beautiful maple leaf just sitting there, almost hoping I would pick it up. And I did, and kept it. It was like the spirit of the little one manifested. A reminder. It still brings a bit of a tear to my eye as I write this – a carry over from reading your piece this morning, methinks.

    Thank you for this, Tiff. For some reason I think I was meant to read this. Something is telling me that this is important for me as well. Not sure why, but then again, what do I know about anything? lol

    Big hugs from me.


    P.S as for the small talkers – I used to get that stuff too (we were later in life when we had our children). I know people mean well, but I just brushed it off. Never took it personally.

    • Hello Paul. I am glad you and your mrs think about your lost one even though you have other children. I think about the ones before and after Michaela too. I think all of us get given our trials and tribulations in life, you have yours and I have mine; but I think both of us are surviving ours well 🙂 so here’s a hug to both of us!!

  13. I’m so sorry people trample over your emotions like that, they only mean well but obviously don’t know the pain you have been through. I would have done the same in your situation and my husband would also have undoubtedly wanted a termination as well. The stress and strain that infertility treatment puts on a couple is extremely demanding and you must have a solid and amazing marriage. Big hug to you and hope you have time to think about the little girl you made and loved just as much as any other child on her due date. Xxxx

    • Hugs MrsJB. On days when I get annoyed with M, I think of all the things we’ve been through together – that there’s a lot more going on behind that quiet silent demeanor. I am just so glad I know him well enough to see beyond his minimalistic Neanderthal responses 🙂 Aren’t men more complex than we give them credit for!

      • They are great- so different from us ladies but life without them would be sad. I love the men in my life a lot, they’re wonderful and I agree they are way more complicated than they seem. Xx

      • Hey, no problem. It’s nice to have friends all around the world, right? I’m just starting to get that now, it’s taken me a year, but I understand that my blogger friends are just as real as my real life friends. Except that they live in a little box on my lap and communicate by typing. ET, you got nothing on my blogger friends.

  14. this is incredible; you should write a book. I am an OBGYN and am often amazed at what female physicians (especially surgeons) have to endure in our own lives due to our work schedules. I also try so hard to exhibit resilience and many times resist the urge to ask my husband to help out in difficult times (4 years ago I had breast cancer at a young age) b/c we’ve learned in our training to be strong and “just get through it”. My heart breaks for what you’ve been through but I admire your strength and wit (prior posts of course) and incredible journaling. If you write a book, I would buy it for every new OBGYN resident that comes through our program.

    • Thank you for coming by my site and leaving such lovely compliments. I use writing as a way of working through my thoughts and ‘getting it off my chest’ so to speak. I do find that being a patient makes me understand mine better. I am sorry you have been through tough times yourself. I think we are our worst enemies.., we feel we need to be tough so people around us think we are ok. Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment. Hope to see you again 🙂

  15. I learned men and women grieve differently. Men don’t want to talk and write about it. They keep active, keep their hands busy, because they have to. That’s how they process. My heart bleeds all over again. And it bleeds for you. My eyes smart again.

    I hope this gift blesses you.

    Shoot me an email if you’re interested in guest authoring. This comment may land in your spam if I include my email address, which is in the sidebar of my blog.


  16. Thank you for taking the time to share your story and for your openness. I am so sorry for your loss, but the strength that you have gained from your experiences shines through and just might be a small source of inspiration needed for those going through the same thing. Sending you virtual hugs 🙂

  17. I am afraid of getting married. I have a strong family history of infertity and I was aware of it as a child. Now 26 and have destined myself from any relationship. The fear is taking over me..but I love children so much the idea hurts.

    You Are strong, although reading this post made me cry, I feel stronger.
    I can’t thank you enough.

    • I wouldn’t hold back on relationships just because of infertility. You’d be surprised, there are lots of guys out there who actually don’t really care whether they have children or not. You just have to be up front about it. When you are older, and you have given it a go, if you are still not successful, you will come to terms with it. It may seem like an impossibility that you’d ever get over infertility, the pain does eventually fade, not to nothing, just to being bearable. We are strong because we need to be, just as you will be 🙂 Let your life happen as it happens, don’t try to avoid, plan or live your life because you think something may or may not happen. That would be the worse mistake: missing out on living your life because of too many ‘what if’s’.

  18. I know how it is to understand everything that is physically wrong and yet go on endlessly asking the universe – Why, why, why?
    I feel the pain friend, i most certainly do. Having an ill child/ baby is by far the hardest thing …

    • Thanks JJ. I think sometimes when we know too much, it makes the pain worse. I was actually more surprised at my concern about being judged by others for my decision, which isn’t like me at all, being the go-get girl and all. Maybe it was the guilt…..

      • Despite appearances, ultimately we all crave social acceptance. Especially in important matters that we ourselves are unsure of. It is almost as if we are looking for validation…For someone to tell us we were right…
        And yes, it’s always harder when you know all the jargon and med-speak…when you know what the consultant actually means when he seems to be saying pleasantries!

  19. Dear Tiffany
    Just found you via a long route. I am so sorry for what you have been through. I do know what’s its like. I have a very similar story. Age 30, good career, good marriage, financially stable – all boxes ticked – my husband and I decided now was the time. First pregnancy I miscarried at 10 weeks. Told there was nothing very unusual, 30% of fist pregnancies end in miscarriage etc etc. Second pregnancy – some bleeding but all going well until a scan at 16 weeks showed a break in the femur. Lots of rounds of doctors and scanning etc and the best diagnosis they could make was osteogenesis imperfecta – the more serious type, After much soul searching and meeting mothers of children with the disease I decided to terminate. My husband made it clear that it was my decision and I suppose his attitude was the start of the eventual dissolution of our marriage. Of course I was told that this disease was a mutation that was a very rare occurrence as there was no evidence of disease in either of our families. I was 21 weeks when I had the termination – went in to hospital on Monday morning and finally “gave birth” on Wednesday after 41 hours of labour. 4 more pregnancies – all ended in miscarriages before 12 weeks. I was an emotional wreck, my marriage was over, and I decided to give up trying. (And of course I no longer had a husband). For many many years I relived these events of my life every single day. I was angry with so many people and things and actively avoided people with children – even my own nieces. Anyway short cut to present. I am now in my early 50s and have just had a visit from my husbands (I got remarried 10 years ago) 3 young grandchildren. I was able to love and appreciate them in a way I could never have before. So many years of heartache but now I am in such a good place and feel reconciled to where my life is. Not saying it takes 20 years – as of course there have been many good times in those years but the wound has finally got a very solid and stable and healed scar now I suppose. Of course writing this I am in tears again as I have not been for quite some time. Maybe the wound has just opened a little – and maybe it needs to now and again. I have a very inactive blog and maybe I should restart again – as writing is cathartic in so many ways.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I remember hating all the magazine stories about fertility that always ended with a happy ending. It felt very lonely being – seemingly – the only one without a baby on the other side of it. Some of the stories end like ours – but that does not mean we don’t have love and hope and beauty in our lives. I did not get what I wanted at the time but I have remade my life into something I am happy, content, at peace with. My heart goes out to you – its all still closer in time for you than it is for me. Lots of love and hugs, Cleo xx

    • Hi Cleo, first of all, it’s lovely to meet you and thank you for coming by and sharing your story with me. My heart goes out to you for all that you have been through, and all that you are going through now (yes, I have been to visit you too). I think I am close to coming to acceptance with my infertility. But as you said, now and then, the wound does open up a little. I am so glad you have found contentment with your life, I am sure I will too, I just need time. You should write again, I find it help with clearing my thoughts and allows me to work through the issues buzzing around in my head. You write well, and your posts have been interesting to read. Thank you for being here and for being you. I really hope to see you here again and until my next visit…. You take care!

      • thanks Tiffany I will be visiting again. I think I need to restart a blog – for all sorts of reasons – so lets see. Maybe you have inspired me to do so. Take care and so good to meet you. xx

  20. Dear Tiffany, words cannot describe the anguish and sorrow I felt while reading your post. I am not a surgeon, I am an oncologist, but I know what life can mean for having a child with such a serious illness. That was the most difficult decision of your life perhaps and I think that you made it with grace. I do not know what I would’ve done in your place. I too have had difficulties with having a child and I know the struggles and anguish around this. Please know that you’re not alone and that there are many of your sisters in medicine who are hoping and sending you well wishes for a bright and happy future.

    Kindest regards,

    Dr. rad onc

    • Thank you for coming by, reading my post and taking the time to write such a thoughtful response. I thank you also for your good wishes and am heartened that I have met a fellow medico with such empathy. Best wishes to you too! I hope you won’t be a stranger and come visit often. xo

  21. Dear Tiffany, As a doctor and someone lucky enough to be a mother I would wholeheartedly endorse the decision you made. I would have done the same. I have been in tears reading your post and feel devastated for you that you had to go through the termination on your own. I am also horrified at the inhumanity of medicine that as a doctor you have had to work at times when medical advice to any other patient would be to rest and be looked after. You sound like an amazing woman to have had such great success at work whilst having such a heartbreaking backing track to your life. Your patients are lucky to have you. I wish you all the success with your career and longevity in a happy relationship. Interesting isn’t it how men and women grieve differently.
    Sending support across the worldwide web.

    • Hello Natasha! Thank you for taking the time to leave such a thoughtful comment. It was a very difficult time, but there is no doubt it has made me realise lots of things about myself, the nature of my job, my husband and our relationship. The whole experience has definitely taught me how to deal with patients who are experiencing a terrible time with medical conditions.
      Thank you for your compliments and good wishes, I do hope you will visit again! Dont be a stranger! 🙂 xo

  22. We all assume too much about what another person has gone or is going through—partly because to know all of everyone’s pain would be too much burden for anyone to bear—and say too many well-meant but hurtful things. Pain and joy are both unique for those who are experiencing them, even if some of the ‘symptoms’ are nearly universal. But in some small way, the thoughtfully shared story like yours here *does* bring us together, help us to understand each other just that little bit more, and perhaps, lead to a kinder sort of community in which we are more conscious of what we do and don’t have in common and how to navigate the inevitable times of sorrow, whether our own or each other’s. (((HUGS)))

    • Yes Kathryn, everyone has a story to tell, good, bad, happy and sad stories. We are the product of our stories and people in our lives are here because of their stories! It was a hard story for me to tell, but I felt much better having shared it because of thoughtful comments and loving support from my blogging friends such as yourself! xo

  23. I can only imagine your pain in writing this, let alone the actual experience. But your words, your eloquence, and your strength that emanate from this page are extremely moving and have registered deeply with me. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    • Thank you for reading my post and your kind comment. It was a difficult time and this is the first time I have tried to tell my story. I am still amazed with the support I have received about this post. Thank you again.

  24. I am moved to tears. I’m so, so sorry.

    I can’t believe you kept it to yourselves all those years – no support, all those niceties and politeness. I’m so pleased you were able to write about it and I hope it brought you some peace x

  25. This is one of the most moving blogs I have read on Word Press. Maybe too because it touches a dark corner in my heart. A lonely place of heartache that only we childless couples can relate too. The fruitless efforts, and hope dashed, and loss of faith in ourselves. Then finally the healing and forgiveness. This was a beautiful blog. Thank you for sharing.

    • Firstly, thank you very much for reading my post and your kind words. It is so lovely to hear from someone who has been through similar heartache of being childless, but moved on with their lives like us. Good on you!
      Secondly, what are you doing reading such a depressing post on New Year’s Eve!!!!! Go out and party and think of great positive things 😀
      Here’s to a great year ahead to both of us, with our hubby and the good things about not having children!! (No school fees and sleepless nights!!!!) xo

      • Yep, so true. Will be pulling my high heels out later tonight and dusting off the little black dress. There ARE some perks to NOT having to find a babysitter on New Years Eve, lol. A Happy New Years to you too! 😉

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