Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Plot Twist: The Unexpected Nature of Living

I'm flying to Barcelona tomorrow for an unexpected family reunion in hospital. After my brother's horrendous 9 hour surgery in March last year I thought that would be the end of it and we could put it all behind us. 

But during a checkup a couple of weeks ago they discovered sarcoma in his liver. I couldn't believe it. It was a shock to everyone. The old terror crept back into my chest. 

The good news is this time it's all moving much quicker. They will be doing radiotherapy on it tomorrow. Apparently he'll be able to feel the burning. Hopefully it will only require one session. He's being really upbeat and brave about it which puts the rest of us a little more at ease.

When I moved from London to Mallorca I was sure I'd see my brother more often but I didn't expect it would be because of illness. After this is all over I plan to visit him more often and to hang out with him far away from the hospital!

I had my own little shock this morning when the gynecologist declared it was time to consider inseminaciĆ³n artificial. If he'd been speaking English, I guess he would have said IVF. I was sure he must have misunderstood me and my life. I had certainly not planned to have any such thing. I was to have a baby easily and naturally with my wonderful husband as simple as that, thank you very much.

I'm not going to jump to conclusions. There are tests to be had and anything could happen in the months ahead. I tell you what though, to anyone planning to have kids in the next few years, I recommend swapping the pill for an alternative contraceptive. It can take over a year to flush it out of your system. I wish I'd known that!

I think it helps to know what you want in life. I think it helps to have goals and dreams. But sometimes your plot will dole out a twist you didn't see coming and what matters is how you deal with it. Luckily, I feel I'm a stronger character than I was a few years ago. I'm determined to call on all the little lessons I've learned over the years to help me take on whatever comes my way. Thank you for letting me share them.

You have to have emptiness before you can be filled. 
You have to exhale before you can inhale - 
Tom Yeomans, spiritual director


Lindsay said...

So sorry to hear of your brother's set back - fingers firmly crossed. (BTW I have a wonderful little great-nephew courtesy of IVF who is now expecting a non IVF brother! The IVF was owing to his dad's cancer treatment (now all well) but just shows nature can take its time to sort itself out.)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes nature works out, and hopefully all will be well with Emily, but it's important to keep in mind that cases like this one are very rare, unfortunately. Despite claims and common perception, IVF has a 60%+ fail rate even in young, healthy women with no known challenges.

It's not what people want to hear, but from my own experience with infertility treatments and pregnancy loss, I know that emphasis on success stories often leaves couples devastatingly unprepared for the complicated grief and shame that comes with repeated failed treatments. Assisted Reproductive Treatments are often traumatic and extremely straining on the physical, emotional, social and financial aspects of a couples life—they are not to be entered lightly.

While it's good to give hope, and some people facing these treatments get encouragement from success stories like this, it's also good to be aware that there are many who find success stories very difficult. After a certain amount of struggle, hearing repeated stories of success in the face of so many failed treatments can make a couple feel even more isolated and alone, as though they are the only ones who can't achieve a successful outcome. Couples who struggle to fall pregnant often don't receive adequate support from friends or family who find it difficult to empathise with such a profound struggle—particularly if the couple is repeatedly unsuccessful and never becomes pregnant or have a living child.

I can't stress enough how important it is for anyone who is getting tested and considering Assisted Reproductive Technology to be open and aware to all possible outcomes and understand that treatments are not a guarantee of a take-home child.

Many couples undergo treatments only to remain childless while some couple are successful only after years of countless brutal treatments that have serious physical and emotional consequences.

It's important for couples to know their limits and stick to them because treatments can often become a never-ending rabbit hole.

There's more than one outcome to infertility struggles and, sometimes, being able to end treatments and find peace with your circumstance is a 'success' in its own right. Again, it's not always what people want to hear, but it is very important to understand that many women have many different outcomes in their journey and none of them should be viewed as 'failures'. Their voices are out there sharing their stories, though they are often overlooked or ignored in favor of the 'happy ending' outcomes.

It's also important to know that whatever the outcome, it is OK. You will be OK. Baby or no baby, you are enough. You are valid. And you are whole. There are many more women than you think who have been in your position, and whatever your final outcome, there are tribes of women who will be happy to welcome you with open arms.

There are some wonderful women who have very eloquently covered a lot of areas on this topic, my top recommendations include writer Pamela Tsigdinos, blogger Miriam Zoll, and author Lisa Manterfield.

Good luck on your journey, Emily, and wishing for nothing but the best outcome for your brother. I'm sorry that things may not turn out as planned, and I'm sure facing the possibility of fertility treatments is daunting and terrifying but always remember that you are a fulfilled and extraordinary woman regardless of whether or not you are a mother.

Emily Benet said...

@Lindsay thank you, he is out of treatment and very perky. He will be home tomorrow so all seems to have gone well. He will have a scan in a month!

@anonymous thank you for taking the time to write to me. I feel like it's early days really despite what he said. Your words are thought provoking. It is definitely not something I'd enter into lightly. I dont think I know how I'll react to what lies ahead, but I do feel lucky already to have found love and to love what I do, very fulfilling and important things in life! I'll check out tu blogs :)

Greenacre Writers said...

Thinking of you, Emily and glad to hear your brother is 'perky' and due to go home. Big hugs x