(Trigger warning: Sex, Infertility & Miscarriage)
I have always wondered when it is the right time to talk or write about sex, infertility, and miscarriage because somehow, it is weirdly embarrassing? However, I believe strongly what many other women have realized, that not talking about it makes it feel worse and that it is okay to give each other permission to talk about it.
I always viewed myself as an open-book kind of girl. I am not a fan of small talk because I just love to have conversations with the baristas at the cafe, the Uber drivers, co-workers, friends, and everyone around me. Because I don’t ever want to miss the opportunity to encourage or bring comfort to others if all I need to do is, to be honest, and vulnerable.
My miscarriage happened last week.
This year we have been praying for a second baby and surprisingly, it is taking longer than I thought. My 2021 is looking very different from what I thought it would be. Infertility, 270 days of lockdown, vaccine mandate by the government, and now a miscarriage.
Why is it that so often, things seem on hold?
The monotony of waiting, pain, worry, hopelessness, zero signs of movement, zero evidence of breakthrough.
When I was single all those years, until I met my husband in 2014, there were nights I cried myself to sleep in hopelessness thinking “When will I ever meet the one?” “You’re 28 and have never had a serious boyfriend, what’s wrong with you?”
I attended many of my friend’s weddings and looked around to find my hopes fading. All the guys I liked didn’t like me back. I was the “best friend” kind of girl. (Iris, in the movies, we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you’re behaving like the best friend. – The Holiday)
And the guys that liked me, I didn’t like or had differences in values which I couldn’t compromise. And you start thinking “Should I start looking into freezing my ovaries just in case I don’t marry until I am 45?”
Well after I met and married my husband and hoped for my happily ever after, there was another waiting journey that took us by surprise.
Sex. I found out that my body had a condition called “Vaginismus”. Now, what is vaginismus? Vaginismus is when the vaginal muscles involuntarily contract and tighten, usually when the vulva is touched. It can happen before sex or during a gynecological examination. It caused great pain and prevented sexual penetration. There is no 1 cause of vaginismus and researchers don’t know exactly why it occurs. However, a number of physical and psychological factors could be involved, they say. Experts don’t know how many people have vaginismus because many people may be too embarrassed to talk about the problem with their healthcare providers, friends, or family members.
But the emotional toll that it has on people is typically equal to, if not more intense than, the physical symptoms. Vaginismus is often a physical reification of past emotional trauma, meaning that symptoms beyond the physical pain can also include PTSD, anxiety, or depression. It causes depression and anxiety and they say that most of the women they see with this are extremely depressed.
When you and your partner were waiting and excited for “that special moment”, and you end up waiting for another 15 months (which at the time, you don’t know when it all ends), you start feeling that you’re not good enough as a wife, failure, defective, that you cannot even gift what you want to give to your partner.
Thankfully, with the help from the support group and therapist that we encountered, I healed from it after 15 months from my wedding day. The therapy, talking with trusted friends, and countless prayers and support really changed things. Because again, it was all in the mind.
And now here we are battling with infertility and going through a miscarriage.
In 2019, after being married for 3 years, we were blessed to give birth to a baby girl. That itself felt like a miracle after going through vaginismus and being diagnosed with a misformed uterus at age 27. The joy was so great, I remember crying for joy for 7 days straight after birth. I did not know how much I’d love being a mother. And now, we were ready for another one! Dreaming for a family of 4.
Well, it’s been a while praying and hoping for the second one to come, and this miscarriage came to us by surprise. I was just getting excited about announcing my pregnancy around Christmas, and the creative ways I can do it. One week we were bringing a baby into the world and then, we weren’t. There was this deep sense of loss of hope. It all happened so quickly.
I felt deceived, cheated, lonely and stupid. Funny right? I felt so guilty for not being able to bring our second one into the family, felt very responsible. I felt extremely apologetic towards my husband, my parents, and my family for not being able to come through to bring that bundle of joy to them. And physically, dizziness and headaches follow from the miscarriage event but you are also running around looking after your firstborn at the same time. For the next few weeks, we have been advised to rest the body which is another delay to me, but because the body needs to heal, it’s a time we need to take. Sometimes slow is fast. So, while I am waiting, I am going to choose to do what I love. I am going to enjoy what I can, having fun my way out of discouragement and despair. It is the antidote to discouragement.
I am grateful because, in all of this, I still know that God’s goodness for my life and for our family exceeds our imperfect situation. My God is still a good God, and that doesn’t change. He is always good. We can’t blame God for everything. There are imperfections in this world, and that is not His fault. We can be still, knowing He is God.
We move on from the doctor’s appointments. We move on and forward with hope and heartache and wondering what our future holds. Hope that every tear counts.
Christmas is around the corner, and we see Christmas decorations everywhere in the city here in Melbourne. And I am remembering that Christmas story about Mother Mary asking the same question we all ask. “How?”
The story tells us that the angel answered her,
“The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child at her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
I am believing that my tears of sorrow will one day turn into tears of joy.