This is is the big week amongst the ME community, we’ve had the international awareness day, Millions Missing event and Sunday is the Blue Sunday tea party.
Each year I tend to write a blog post to do my bit for raising awareness for an illness that has turned my life upside down. However, this year I felt that whatever ideas for posts I had, would be the same as I’ve written before. However, for a while now there has been a subject matter that I’ve wanted to write about, something that you wouldn’t necessarily consider someone with ME would have to factor in. It’s deeply personal but something that I feel is important to share.
Before I plough ahead, I just want to put a little disclaimer in here that although I know many people will want to share experiences, advise and give me words of wisdom, I really would appreciate no unsolicited advise on this one. This is a process I’m wading through and I’m fully aware there are options and nothing is set in stone, but for now, this is where I am.
Children. I adore children, that’s one of the main reason I went into teaching. I love watching them grow, learn, laugh, interact and experience the world. And with no surprise, I have always wanted to be a mum, it’s something from an early age I knew I wanted, it’s in my very being. I wanted to have my own children to nurture and love and care for. To have a family unit like the one I was brought up in, special and unique.
When I was first diagnosed with ME, I didn’t think far enough ahead as to how much it would change my life; in all honesty I was ignorant to how long I could and would suffer with it. But, as the years have rolled by and as the steps I take continue to be small but significant, I have started to think further ahead. I found my birthday this year particularly hard. For some reason 34 slapped me round the face. Mid thirties. Not working. Living with my parents. No more input or avenues to explore with the medical professionals. I’m not in a place to date or meet people, I can’t plan that far ahead and let’s face it, dating someone with a life like mine really isn’t that appealing!
So that then led me to think about children. It’s not just the fact that I’m getting older and my biological clock is ticking, it’s more that I have to consider how my body would cope with it. Firstly, the impact being pregnant could and probably would have on my body and illness could be catastrophic – the possibility of getting through pregnancy and then being bed bound and unable to be the mum I’d want to be, is and has to be a real consideration. And then there’s actually being a parent – there is no way I could effectively pace myself the way I know I need to, if I had a child.
Now, I know what many of you will be thinking; there are different ways of having children and I agree, adoption and surrogates are all brilliant options and ones I’d never rule out. The main factor for me is being the mum I’d want to be. Not having to worry that if I take my child out for the day, that I wouldn’t be able to parent for the days, weeks or months to follow. Personally for me, that feels like such a selfish thing to risk.
I also know that there are many mums and dads out there with ME who manage their illness and parenthood brilliantly. That ME struck after becoming parents when they had no choice but to find a way through and do it with utter brilliance and strength. But like I said at the start of this blog, these are my own personal wonderings and ramblings, at the stage of life I’m at currently and I have no specific opinions on what anybody else chooses for themselves, everyone has to follow their own path.
I also know that you never know what’s around the corner and it is always important to stay hopeful. However, I have also learnt that it is important to be realistic and to work through different things that present themselves. I almost need to come to peace with the fact I won’t ever have children, work through that new level of grief that, if I’m honest, is all consuming and overwhelming.
I also remind myself that I am very lucky to be surrounded by friends whose children are huge parts of my life. I take the most unimaginable joy from being able to watch them grow and be a part of their lives and count myself as lucky to be able to do that. The excitement and joy I have for them, and my friends in the future that become parents, is unbridled. It’s funny, there is no jealousy there at all, yes, of course there are pangs of how I wish I was in that position but I am beyond privileged that my friends want me in their children’s live and hopefully I can have an impact on those little people and be there for them as they grow.
I am also aware that my situation is just one of many out there as a reason why I may not have children. Society doesn’t like to shine a light on the tougher subjects of becoming a mum, miscarriage being one of them, and I felt like this area of ME is hardly spoken about at all, yet I know many amongst the community feel it, and feel it deeply.
Babies bring people together and for me, that is what breaks my heart the most. Not the loss of not having a child for me, but not having a grandchild for my parents, a niece of nephew for my brother, godchildren for my best friends. Not being able to make all of those memories and fulfil my dream role in life. Not being able to see that as part of my future, makes my future even more unclear for me. It’s making me re-evaluate my in purpose life and the goals and dreams I set for myself. It feels like the biggest thing that ME could steal from me and is the hardest thing to get my head around. I know I can’t be certain about anything that lays ahead, but this is just something that I’m grappling with at the moment and when weighed up, was something important to expose during ME awareness month.
Please, please don’t feel you need to comment or show sympathy, that is not what this post is for. It’s my own personal thought process and an element of chronic illness that people may not have considered. Awareness is key. Funding for bio medical research is even more key. So, this Sunday, please join in with Anna’s Blue Sunday Tea Party and help raise money and awareness for such a worthy cause. I will post the Just Giving link below, all you need to do is have some tea and cake on Sunday and donate what you’d pay in a shop for it – easiest and tastiest fund raising you’ll ever do!
Keep safe and well,