This weekend, the newspapers have been splashed with images of a heavily pregnant Serena Williams discussing the impending birth of her baby with the headline ‘I’m about to become a real woman’.
“I have so much respect for so many women [for giving birth],” the tennis star was quoted. “I am about to be a real woman now, you know? It’s going to be something incredibly impressive to go through.”
To hear someone such as Serena refer to the fact that the imminent birth of her first child will magically turn her from a regular ordinary run of the mill woman into a ‘real woman’ hurts. Not because it implies that she sees childless women as an inferior type of woman, because I’m sure this is not what she meant and I don’t want to put words into her mouth, but because it plays into all my own insecurities and how I view myself.
Earlier this year, my partner and I decided to use our last remaining embryo. Our one, genetically untested, six-day-old frozen embryo, the only embryo from our last IVF stem cycle. Honestly we were just using it as a matter of course, we didn’t have high hopes for this tiny little life, when all others had tested abnormal or hadn’t survived.
This was the one that hadn’t grown enough to be tested. The unknown one. And the results came back.... POSITIVE!
How was this possible? It must have been a mistake. How could it have been positive? How was I finally pregnant? We tried to be realistic. The only other time I had fallen pregnant from IVF our follow-up blood tests didn't rise like they should have, and I miscarried within a short time. We reminded ourselves that might happen again this time. We were cautiously optimistic. Don't tell people just in case, don't get too excited, we told ourselves.
We started booking in appointments and scans. Making plans. Bringing out the baby things. I ordered some things on the internet. I wrote lists of what I had, what we needed. Where did we put that list of baby names we had selected last time? I downloaded the pregnancy app. Six weeks gestation, our baby is the size of a lentil. Amazing.
We allowed ourselves to relax a little and talk about our future. Our future as parents. Finally after all this time our dreams had come true. Everyone was right, it did finally happen.
Then, suddenly, our hopes were over in seconds. One moment all our dreams had come true, the next the feeling of tearing followed by gushes of blood, pain, warmth, more blood, not slow leaking blood, bleeding, flowing, so much blood, clots, tissue, so much pain. All our dreams and hopes... gone. Shattered. Over. Everything covered in blood.
My body had failed us again.
Listen: Mamamia Out Loud's Monique Bowley speaks about her miscarriage. (Post continues...)