CW: sexual violence and eating disorder.
I’m afraid, and I want to do it anyway.
The decision about who carries for us was less about whose body will be our vessel and more about examining our relationships with our own bodies. I always knew I wanted to carry and Queer 2 didn’t.
Seemingly by chance our responses to the question of who would be the one to carry our child lined up well.
For me, underneath the simplicity to that answer however, there are layers of trauma and childhood wounds that first needed to be addressed.
I have a history of eating disorders and am a survivor of sexual violence. I knew that the fertility process, pregnancy and childbirth wasn’t going to be easy for me. Queer 2 tells me I’m a strong person, but it’s something I doubt quite a bit.
As a byproduct of my traumas, I’m quite anxious and while carrying is something I’ve always wanted to do, I am equal parts excited and terrified.
Feeling ‘in my body’ has been a challenge as long as I can remember.
Several formative experiences led me to develop an eating disorder and while I no longer engage in the behaviors of the eating disorder, I still struggle with body image and feeling connected to my body.
Over the years I’ve learned to cope through movement.
Working out has allowed me to use my body to do something rather than be something. Early on when I began weightlifting, I learned that my body can be powerful.
That I can lift heavy things, be it physical or emotional.
These moments allowed me to feel connected to my body for the first time in my life. I have so much fear going into pregnancy that this connection will be lost, never to be found again.
That my body won’t feel like the one I have come to respect and call my own.
That I’ll be disconnected and uncomfortable with my own skin for a year (or much more).
The fear of losing a connection to myself that keeps me grounded in life is genuine and yet, I want to do it anyway.
Complicating all of this is the fact that when we began the process, I had never had a pap smear or gynecological exam.
This is something I was deeply ashamed of as an ardent feminist and (at the time) 32 year old woman. The culture, women around me and my own mind ‘should-ed’ me a lot but, I intentionally avoided having an exam from a protective place as a survivor.
Sexual violence is about power and a lack of control over your body.
In my mind, a gynecological exam would be something I wouldn’t be in control of. For that matter, the entire fertility process has mirrored this lack of control and power (more on that later).
So, to say I was fearful, is an understatement.
I feel very lucky to go to a clinic with a doctor that is willing to sit with my trauma. I know I am not a typical patient, I am afraid of being labeled as ‘difficult’ as a result of my trauma showing up in things like me nearly jumping off the exam table when examined. (I joke with Queer 2 that my chart must say something like ‘warning: survivor’ on it).
The first thing my doctor did at the clinic was to perform a pap smear. Prior, she got to know Queer 2 and I, and prescribed a small dose of Ativan to calm my nerves (I was still panicked).
I did it and was surprisingly proud of myself (there may have been some ice cream as a celebration after!). I felt that if I could do the pap, I’d be okay with the IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and we would be well on our way to starting a family.
And so we carried on.
And that’s what we’ve done ever since, just carried on. One procedure after the next, one day at a time (as Queer 2 often says). With a goal in mind, determined as ever and Queer 2 by my side for every single procedure, we’ve continued.
I am steadfast in wanting to carry regardless of the emotional turmoil it takes to get there.
And make no mistake, this process is traumatic.
I would have never anticipated that when I decided to carry and had that first pap I would be putting my body through as much as I have and that I would be digging into old wounds I thought were long healed.
This process has been hard on my body image, sense of self and identity.
I haven’t been able to access my main coping tool as regularly as I used to, I’ve had immense physical and emotional pain and I’ve found that few people understand or can relate to this experience.
I’m still afraid every step and yet, I’m doing it anyway because the eventual, hopeful outcome is what I ultimately want.
Check out Queer 2’s perspective on our decision about who carries and their relationship with their body here. And let us know how making the decision to carry has impacted you and your relationship with your body in the comments.
– Queer 1