real life

'I'm left grieving someone who never existed. But the pain is real.'

I always thought I'd find it easy to get pregnant. My mum had five children – including a surprise baby at 42 – and my grandmother had three successful pregnancies after one month of trying each time.

So at 29, as I was planning my wedding to my long-term partner, I came off my contraception and figured I'd be up the duff practically as soon as we said 'I do'. But nothing could've prepared me for the last two years of my life.

Within months of coming off contraception, I started experiencing incredible pain and was admitted to hospital. The OB/GYN immediately suspected endometriosis, and I had a laparoscopy four months later. After a five-hour surgery, it was confirmed I had extensive endometriosis growth which was removed from my bladder, tendons of my uterus, behind the uterus, bowel and appendix among other places.

I definitely wasn't prepared for the recovery. Part of me was glad I didn't know beforehand because I may not have gone through with it. 10 days later, I was still miserable. I was in so much pain, I could barely move. 

Face-timing my mum in NSW who was stuck in lockdown, she assured me I shouldn't be this bad. With my fiance at work for another eight hours underground with no contact, I had no choice but to call an ambulance.

Watch: What is Endo? Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

Turns out I had an infection post-surgery and was flown to Townsville where I had my second laparoscopy in three weeks. Following this surgery I had eight new holes in my belly, and was told although they did everything they could, they couldn't guarantee my tubes weren't compromised by the infection. Even still, I thought the hardest part was behind me.

So a few months after our wedding, we started actively trying to conceive and ovulation tracking. It's funny how you just assume when your big day comes around your body is going to get the memo to do what you want it to do – like the only reason you aren't pregnant is because your uterus wants to make sure you can swig a few pina coladas on your honeymoon.

It's now been 17 months since my wedding. I've had two late periods, three months of false positive tests (indent lines) and countless tears. But still no pregnancy.

It's a cruel and self-sabotaging cycle of anger, self-pity and guilt that you can't give your partner a baby. Every baby announcement, especially from those close to you, cuts you to the bone. I never knew I could feel so sad, guilty and happy for someone else all at the same time.

Every story of neglected children or a pregnant woman overdosing on drugs, or babies being subjected to abuse by their parents triggers a trauma response of tears, anger and frustration. The WHY ME is so loud.


Maddi and her husband. Image: Supplied. 

Shopping for someone else's baby is also a particularly gruelling task. You buy something you'd love to receive if it were you, and you go to the baby shower and smile and laugh. And then you cry on your way home.

Infertility consumes my thoughts, dreams and nightmares. And with every new month – and every new negative pregnancy test – you mourn the life that might have been if it had worked this time.


Chiemi Rajamahendran – known as @missconceptioncoach on Instagram – put it perfectly last month when she spoke about the lack of recognition for this sort of pain. "We don't have a term when someone goes through infertility treatment like IVF or IUI and it 'fails'. The loss of that is real and painful and devastating," she wrote.

"Grieving the loss of a dream that could've been, at any stage deserves to be acknowledged with compassion. This loss deserves words, grace to mourn and compassionate support. This is the best kind of infertility awareness."

I felt like keeping all my emotions in made me feel incredibly alone, made worse by the fact I was living in Queensland far from my family and friends in Sydney. I also got sick of having to tell everyone the same story, so I decided to share my pregnancy struggles on Instagram.

What I didn't expect was how many people would reach out – so many strangers, friends, relatives and people I'd gone to school with who were going through the same thing. Every time I get a new message from someone, I'm shocked by how common it is. But no one really talks about it. So I'm talking – and saying the hard stuff out loud.

Infertility robs you of being able to decide when you will have a family and how many you will have, it robs you of the chance to surprise your partner with a positive test like we see splashed across social media every week. It robs you of any birthday, Christmas or anniversary whilst trying to conceive with each annual milestone a reminder of last year when your naïve selves said you'd celebrate this year with a baby on your lap. Infertility is a thief of life.


I haven't had mental health issues in 12 years until this year when my period came two days late after what I thought was a faint positive line. I had three days off work crying and called Beyond Blue for the first time in my life.

I wish it wasn't so hard to talk about. I wish it wasn't so awkward to hear about. I wish it wasn't so hard to f**king treat it. I wish I hadn't spent 11 years of my life avoiding pregnancy. 

I wish young women actually learned enough about our bodies to make our own decisions about contraception and reproductive health. Once you know the ins and outs of period maths, accidental pregnancies seem about as probable as Sarah Jessica Parker and Kim Catrall becoming best mates again.

I and the countless other women going through this right now are left grieving something that never even existed. But the pain is real. All I can hope is that we all get the happy ending we so desperately wish for.

You can follow Maddi's journey on Instagram @maddi_rossxoxo

If this has raised any issues for you or if you would like to speak with someone, please contact the Sands Australia 24-hour support line on 1300 072 637 or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

Featured Image: Supplied.