How to be a glamorous patient

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I’ve been very quiet for a week. On the 26th of October, I have to go into hospital for a short outpatient surgery. It doesn’t take long and I can be discharged on the same day but it’s taking its toll on me.
After around eighteen months of frankly unpalatable symptoms, I’m going to have an ablation and – after a little more time – I will be sterilised. I don’t want any more children but there is something about the death of my fertility that is really gut wrenching.
I was told that I would never have children and Mr Sophie’s Voice and I threw ourselves into the child free, reasonably prosperous lifestyle that we could afford at the time. Then, seven years ago, we had a moment of clarity and admitted that we both wanted children.
My children are aged 4 and 22 months. It took two years and three miscarriages for our eldest child to ‘stick’. It seemed like a miracle. My aunt still talks about my first daughter in quasi religious terms. She arrived in record time – 49 minutes – and ripped my body apart. She didn’t breathe when she was born and I passed out so I never saw the midwives revive her. After all that violence, she was a sweet baby and we decided to try for a second – she was an almost instant baby. Literally – wham, bam, you’re pregnant, ma’am. That birth was even faster – 17 minutes – and even more violent. A hospital room full of people as – this time – my body nearly ripped my baby apart.
Yet, after all that, I have two children. My ‘breeder’ status is such a novelty to me that I have languished in it. I know that my body can perform this most basic, yet most essential – on some level to me – of tasks.
Now I will lose this intangible quality. This thing I have been blessed with. This thing that I am so grateful for. This thing that has brought me so much happiness – us, so much happiness. It will be gone tomorrow. If, by some natural accident, I become pregnant again, then I will lose that baby. It’s written in medical stone. Carved there by example and science.
My outfit of the day – two of them, as I shop when I’m miserable – will carry me through the few days of convalescence which I will go through after the surgery. I’m going to have to stay in bed – in intense pain – while my body rids itself of my fecundity. It will feel like it’s rejecting cervical tissue. It will be. From tomorrow afternoon onwards, my womb will be nothing but scar tissue – the process burns the womb like farmers used to burn fields to kill the last growth of crops. I will expel the last possibility of life.
I’m going to spend my time in bed. I want to feel a little bit luxurious so I’m wearing pyjama pants, camisoles and soft, comforting knitwear. The pictures show some fun slippers but I don’t think I’ll be walking anywhere. Maybe for a bath. I’ve uncluded books and I think I might paint my nails.
That’s how to convalesce in glamorous style. That’s my coping mechanism. It’s a bit Norma Desmond, I realise, but it’s going to work. It has to. I can’t fail. I have too much work to do to get seized up in a depression.
Yes, I’m going to mourn. I have to go through a process. Don’t tell me that I’m going to be mourning the loss of children I was never going to have. We all know that accidents – happy ones – happen. No, to me, it’s more than that. It doesn’t matter that I can’t express it adequately or that it’s illogical. It’s just there. Well, that’s the point. Something won’t be there.
So – tomorrow – I’m going to come home from hospital, curl up in my bed and feel penitent because I have consciously chosen to reject this gift. I’m going to cry quietly so that my children don’t hear me and worry. I’ll check my dressings and feel guilt every time. I’ll cry more. I’ll probably have to write more and I will slowly heel.
Slowly, surely, I will wrap my head around the fact that being able to have children is not what makes you a woman. The Madonna was a girl and she’s kind of a big deal to some people. Some of the most powerful, intelligent and admirable women in the world are terrible mothers. Some aren’t at all. Most of the successful women I know have an allure I have all but forgotten – and no nuclear family.
I will be fine. A woman is more than the sum of her parts – or some of her parts…however you think of it. But I will convalesce in black silk Agent Provocateur pyjama pants and cashmere knits and paint my toenails with Nails Inc. polishes because I want to and because it will be the right thing for me to do. For myself, for my children, for my husband, for my family.
Just a note on the bedclothes I have chosen – yes, this is the kind of loungewear that I mentioned when I described my ideal life. I guess I couldn’t do that all the time, after all. It turns out that I’m a dilettante at dilettantisme. That’s made me smile.
Finally, something has made me smile.

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16 thoughts on “How to be a glamorous patient

  1. I noticed you hadn’t been posting, you’ve been missed! I’m so sorry you are going through this, I’m sorry for your loss of part of yourself. Your birth stories are amazing and terrifying. You have been through a lot. I will be thinking of you, you’ll be in my prayers that you heal.

    I love your plans for beautiful clothing, sleep wear. I think it it brilliant, a way of lovely self care and soothing. I am going to paint my nails with you. I look forward to your return. This was a beautiful raw post. Thank you for sharing.
    Meg ️xo

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  2. I too noticed your disappearance but totally understand it, I can’t even begin to imagine how you must be feeling, I wish you a speedy recovery. A beautiful, raw piece of writing once again showing me why I’m so much in awe of your blogging. X

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      1. Damn straight its not! 🙂 you are one of the most sensual, feminine, straight talking, honest ladies I have ever had the pleasure to converse with. You seem like such a strong person 🙂

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  3. My thoughts are with you right now Sophie. I’m probably much too young to say anything remotely intelligent or in any way comforting on this matter, but I do think I can imagine how you are feeling. I like to think of feminity as a fluid concept, something that can only be defined by the individual who possesses it and changes from person to person. I personally, although this is extremely dramatic, felt robbed of mine when I could no longer wear perfume. I always thought of someone’s scent as a primal and provocative thing and the fact that I no longer had control over it was something that really affected my confidence. I admire you as every bit a woman, regardless of the sum of your parts or some of your parts. You are beautiful, and powerful and seductive – even simply in your written word. When you’re ready I think you should take a moment to celebrate all that you have achieved and all that you are. I only hope as I grow that I can become a woman that someone could look up to, like you. xx

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  4. This was tough to read… I’m twenty, soon to be 21 with the world at my feet. I look forward to the day my boyfriend and I begin our little family, but not quite yet.
    I’ve experienced child mortality and I never want to ever again. My aunt struggled to get pregnant a second time, she finally did but miscarried. When she healed and mourned she fell pregnant again. 18 days after the beautiful baby girl was born, they unhooked the machines and carried her home in her new car seat to be lied to rest in a little white coffin instead of her beautiful crib. We never heard her cry.
    I’ve never talked about it but it affected me hugely. You take all the time you need and heal. I think I understand what you mean and I really just want to hug you right now. Take some time for yourself but keep your family close. Reflect with gratitude for what your body has aloud you to achieve 🙂 all my love! Xx

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  5. Sophie. I hope that you are doing all the things that you planned and wearing the clothes you planned! My heart goes out to you. You know I have one daughter and have only had one pregnancy so don’t feel I can ever wholly understand some of your darker times. But I do know that you have two beautiful daughters and know how proud you are of them. You will ensure that they grow into intelligent articulate women. And that’s the best reward ever. Lots of love to you. Recover while being pampered. Frances xxxxx

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  6. OMG I didn`t even think you are going through something like that. Nevermind that you don`t want to have children anymore, they take a part of you out 😦 I`m sorry and I feel for you, at least as much as I can!
    Sid

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