We've been together a long time, you and I. Like many long-term relationships, ours has shifted and developed over time.
In my teenage years, I was very bothered about how you looked. I spent a lot of time comparing you to other women's bodies. I measured you against the bodies of my friends, and against the bodies of the airbrushed models in fashion magazines, and I felt inadequate in comparison - somehow, you didn't quite seem to measure up. At that stage in my life, I was hung up on external appearances; your internal rhythms remained a mystery to me; your monthly bleeds were nothing more than a messy inconvenience.
In my twenties, a late period was a cause for panic, rather than optimism. The decade seemed to pass by in a whirl. I stayed out late, and subsisted on coffee and KitKats. I took it for granted that you could handle whatever I threw at you. I didn't treat you with the respect you deserved. For all the Big Macs and the tequila slammers, I am truly sorry.
In my thirties, I began to take better care of you. I ate right, and exercised. And I grew increasingly angry with you when you failed to repay that care. I felt frustrated and betrayed by your inability to do what you were designed to do - to conceive and sustain new life. Paradoxically, it was only after I suffered a miscarriage that I was able to let some of those negative feelings go. The only way I could begin to come to terms with having lost a baby was by trusting in you - by accepting the fact that you had recognised that the foetus was not viable, and so had dealt with it as quickly and efficiently as you could. I decided that I needed to have a little more faith in you; I learnt to respect your rhythms and chart your cycles. But the odds were stacked against us - tests had revealed that there were fairly major problems with Mr H's sperm. And so we felt we had no option but to turn to ART - ICSI, to be precise.
Over the past three months, I've put you through a lot. I've pumped you full of artificial hormones designed to put you into a temporary menopause. As if that wasn't enough, I then took even more drugs designed to make you work overtime, and to produce more eggs than ever you would when left to your own devices. And, perhaps understandably, you rebelled. You failed to respond to those drugs.
Next month, I'm going to ask you to do the same thing all over again - only we'll be using even more drugs. And this time round, I need you to trust me; as alien and as counter-intuitive it might feel to you, this seems to be the only way for us to have a baby. Please, please work with me on this next cycle.
Ms H xx
The Letter to My Body project was initiated over at BlogHer. My own letter was prompted by Melissa's thoughtful post on how infertile women in particular view their bodies. You can read Mel's own letter, as well as links to those of other women struggling with infertility and loss by following this link.