Lynda Myra-Boler candidly shares her journey to motherhood; not only learning to accept her body but also to love herself through her diagnoses. She expresses her struggle to become a mother in this inspiring piece, explored from a point of view we so rarely hear.
During my childhood, I remember constantly asking my Mother the same question over and over again:
“Mum, when will I become as tall as other kids my age?”Her reply would always remain consistent, “you’ll catch up soon, just be patient.”.
The difference in height between me and my peers wasn't all that significant for most of my time growing up; but that changed when I reached those formidable pubescent years!
I’d just turned 15 in July and was looking forward to seeing my friends again after the long 5-week Summer break from school, but when I opened the classroom door that first morning back I failed to recognize anyone anymore... they'd all changed.
Everyone had grown a foot taller.
The girls had started wearing makeup and tights. Their school skirts had become shorter, just covering their backsides. They’d all developed breasts and curves in all the right places... they'd become young women overnight.
Not only did my friend’s physical appearance change overnight but also their attitude towards me.
This 4ft 8”, 5.5 stone, flat-chested, balding teenager didn't have all the attributes needed to be within their social circle of a glamourous 'it’ girl. They started ignoring me around school, they stopped inviting me around to their houses. I became quite adept during that period of my life at enjoying my own company.
I was never what you might call proficient in any form of sports and I was always the last person to be picked (begrudgingly, I might add) on any team sports events.
I'd constantly ask my mother to write me sick notes whenever I had PE lessons, not just because I was never picked, but because I knew afterwards I'd have to change out of my sports gear and I was rather reticent to have my body on show for all the girls to ridicule. I was embarrassed and extremely unhappy with the way I looked, as well as being envious of them, what they had and what I so desperately craved.
Having spoken to my sisters candidly about puberty and when it happened to them. It was then I knew then there was something wrong with me and I needed answers.
To alleviate my concerns and to prove she was right mum was happy for me to take a morning off school and to see a hospital pediatrician. She made the appointment for the following week.
I didn't know what to expect that day when I entered the consulting room, but my life was turned upside down on the mere words he spoke.
“Your daughter has Turner's Syndrome”.
The more he explained about my newly diagnosed condition, the more devastating it was to hear.
Turner syndrome is a condition in which a female’s x chromosome is missing, partially missing or altered. The missing x chromosome error can be from the mother's egg cell or the father's sperm cell.
Women with this condition tend to:
• Be shorter in stature.
• Be unable to conceive a child because of an absence of ovarian function.
• Have some Skeletal abnormalities.
• Have a heart defect.
The list of signs and symptoms are numerous, and all vary to a stronger or lesser degree among those affected.
We discussed a treatment plan. He advised a course of human growth hormone which would increase my height by a few inches.
When I completed that he was then going to put me on Oestrogen replacement therapy which would help start the secondary sexual development (namely, breast increase, shapely hips and a menstrual cycle) that normally begins at puberty.
I left that doctor’s room feeling numb.
The bus ride home was strained and quiet, with mum and I both absorbed in our own personal thoughts and feelings with the information just given to us.
I knew mum held a deep sense of guilt upon hearing the news, (which she admitted to years later) thereby adding pressure on me to be strong, to help ease her pain.
I will always remember getting off the bus after our visit to the pediatrician and stopping off at the corner shop to buy lunch before heading back to school. I thought I was doing pretty well holding it together, but as I stood outside the shop two ladies passed, pushing their prams, happily cooing at their newborn babies. It was at this point that I ran into the small wooded area behind my school broke down in tears.
I was grieving for something I’d lost...my identity as a woman.
For me now, it wasn't just about not looking feminine but about being devoid of the chance from ever becoming a complete woman and to one day be a mother.
I spent the rest of the afternoon sat there in the woods welcoming the peace and solitude, going over in my mind the pediatrician’s words: “You have two options to consider and plenty of years to decide. You could adopt or try a pioneering treatment (then only 4 years old) called IVF”.
I knew the second option would be expensive and, like all things new, came with a low success rate but I was given options and choices and while I had those, I had hope!
Don't get me wrong, there were still moments during all of this that I struggled with my condition. Like the time I went to school and major gossip was going around of a 14-year-old girl pregnant. The girl decided to have the baby and I had to endure the pain and torment of watching her belly grow over those ensuing months having my lost ability rubbed in my face.
Having my own sister, sister- in- law and niece fall pregnant was also bitter sweet.
Even through the toughest and darkest of days I still managed to pick myself up, dust myself down and continue to live my life, until such time that I needed to deal with my infertility again and those all-important decisions I had to make.
One early decision was to leave school at 16, start work and put money aside for future attempts at IVF. I surrounded myself with positive people, partied, worked hard and put all my problems to the back of my mind.
When ’d just turned 30 I became engaged to my soulmate who still wanted to marry me even though there was a strong possibility that I’d never give him a child of his own. My future husband was willing to take that chance and support me.
IVF clinics had been treating infertile women for 19 years now, their success rate had vastly improved and I was feeling optimistic.
At age 31 I got married and we both decided to wait a year before trying IVF treatment. We wanted to spend the time researching all the relevant clinics, looking at success rates, aftercare, privacy laws and most importantly egg donor availability.
It didn't take us long to find the perfect clinic in Harley Street, London.
What did take the time was all the red tape involved and then the treatment required to get my body prepared for a possible pregnancy.
By the Autumn of ‘98 all the paperwork was finalized and my body was ready.
On 20th November I was impregnated with 2 viable embryos fertilized by my husband, given a list of do’s and don'ts and asked to return in a month’s time for a pregnancy test.
It was the longest month of my life.
During this time, whilst waiting for the appointment, I was hoping, wishing to feel all or some of the early stages of pregnancy, but I felt nothing.
I didn't feel optimistic anymore but fearful and prepared myself emotionally for a massive letdown. It didn't help seeing my husband becoming excited and hopeful.
How could I share my fears and destroy his dream...Answer, I didn't!
I spent that agonizing month in my own personal sorrow.
It was 5 days until Christmas and we were in London. I had been to the clinic earlier that morning and gave some blood for them to test if I was pregnant or not.
They told us the results would be ready after 2pm that afternoon. So, whilst we had the time and opportunity we went Christmas shopping, and it was whilst ambling along Oxford Street that my husband got the call from the clinic. His eyes started to tear up and he thanked the doctor for all his help. He then turned to me and said, “Congratulations mummy! We're having a baby!”.
I ran into his arms and we hugged and cried for the longest time.
18 years of pent up anger, despair all gone on hearing that simple sentence.
On July 29th, 1999 my miracle baby came into this world weighing 5lb 3oz. I finally got to hold the one thing I've ever wanted.
My life was now complete. I continue to feel happy and whole as a mother and as a woman all thanks to my precious son.
My body may not be perfect, but it carried something perfect and for that I love it.