One Big Fat Question Mark.

January 5, 2011 at 12:01 am (Just wondering...)

This is kind of a continuation of my reflection on the whole getting-married-and-having-kids thing. I guess we can all agree that the natural progression in life means that following education, we “settle down” in our twenties and thirties – after all haven’t we got the partying of our late teens/early twenties out of our systems? Just recently, I feel like this theme has resurfaced in my life. For example, a friend of mine just got engaged over the Christmas holidays to her long term boyfriend. Also, right before I found out the good news, I had lunch with some old friends of mine – just to catch up. Again, two are engaged, one soon to be and two married. So, once again, I sat through a lunch dominated by wedding conversation. You know, the usual, engagement photos, the cost of gowns and flowers, the bridesmaids dresses etc., etc. It was the whole nine yards – wedding magazines being tossed around, engagement photos being whipped out etc. I found myself sitting awkardly with my single friends, only half-listening with glazed expressions on our faces. Don’t get me wrong, I am really, really happy for them! My soon-to-be married friend is positively glowing in anticipation. It is almost like she has waited for this moment her whole life! I guess my whole purpose here is to talk out my own thought process because I am constantly questioning whether I fit in society’s mould. In this instance, I do not think I do. Whether this has to do with biology or not, I am not quite sure.

I know if I really wanted to, B would love to marry and settle down however, something is really holding me back. But what? Why do I not feel like I am on the same page as everyone else? Where do they find their certainty? That is what I really want to find out. A friend of mine laughed when I confessed my doubts, joking that our early-/mid-twenties are for our friends to get engaged and our late twenties are when we see them all get divorced. True or not, I think of this quite a bit.

I am not sure if MRKH is what is holding me back or maybe causing me to consider things more closely than other people. Maybe I am afraid to face the questions that would come next? You know, the ones about when we would have kids and really start the family. I cannot say for sure but either way, the real question is, will I ever be sure what path is the right one for me? This is the one big fat question mark in my life right now…

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The Birth of a New Year.

January 3, 2011 at 3:44 pm (Just wondering...)

As I was reflecting on 2010, I realized that it has been about a year since I started this journey. I cannot believe how healing this experience has been (thus far) and how much support there is out there for MRKH women! Thanks so much to you all! I hope you have learnt as much as I have from this experience. I will continue to update my blog as much as I can. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, I would love to hear them! Thank you and love you all!

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Unity.

November 23, 2010 at 8:28 pm (Just wondering...)

When a heated debate regarding the intersex issue erupted on the mrkh-grrls forum, I got to thinking. I have decided to place my thoughts here since this space is a safe space for me to share my reflections (feel free to respond if you wish). Considering our one link is MRKH, we have to remember the diversity of our backgrounds. We have all experienced adversity and hardship and we have all had different family lives and school experiences. This all influences our personal opinions. For this, we all must respect one another, whether or not we agree with the decisions each individual makes. It is our experience with MRKH which unites us in this community for support and true empathy.

I find it very difficult to empathise with those who solicit other people’s respect and yet fail to respect other people’s choice to live differently. Labels exist, that is the reality, whether we like it or not. But labels can be helpful as well as harmful. With regards to the intersex debate, various definitions (broad and specific) are floating around out there. My research has unearthed those who do identify our condition as intersex and a majority that do not. Having said that, if you feel that you wish to identify as intersex that is your choice as it is mine to refrain from labelling myself so.

With respect to those who are concerned for newly diagnosed girls, I agree that it is harmful to preach, but this might be one way or another. Instead, we can offer the knowledge that these two groups do exist and explain clearly why. From there, these girls can make an informed decision….or not – it is her choice. Even for me, 8 years after my diagnosis, the whole debate confused me. When I raised the issue, it was shut down as a taboo subject. Gender issues are very prevalent and they affect all of us but lashing out at one another is not the answer. If anything, we can learn from those who think differently from ourselves.

That is my two cents on the matter. But it is crucial to keep these neutral spaces alive!

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Ladies, this is something I want to run by you.

October 5, 2010 at 12:54 am (Housekeeping: General blog info, Just wondering..., With lives like ours: FAQ and Discussion Section)

I have been thinking a lot lately about MRKH, resources available to us and the like. Our stories are scattered all over the internet, in blogs, websites and private groups. I was wondering if any of you would feel comfortable sharing your story with the world in the form of a short story novel (non-fiction). Specifically, we could collaborate and put together a book which brings together our stories about MRKH. Maybe we could each contribute a chapter. This could even be done anonymously…no real names need be mentioned. In fact, I would be more comfortable with that myself. I just think it would be so beneficial for new MRKH girls to hear stories about those who have succeeded and overcome the struggles associated with MRKH…

What do you think? Love it or hate it? I don’t care. I just want to hear your ideas.

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Does it ever get easier?

September 22, 2010 at 9:10 pm (Just wondering...)

This month, I started my Masters in Counselling. I had mixed feelings: I was excited to be one step closer to my goals/dreams but I was so nervous to see all new faces. The prof entered the room which housed about fourteen people (much more intimate than in my undergrad classes) and asked us each to introduce ourselves and tell her about our experience in counselling etc. I was overwhelmed by the educational/professional backgrounds of my peers. Most declared they were interested in working with children or adolescents. Some were interested in couples counseling and family therapy and some were interested in working with those battling addictions. When it came to my turn, I was nervous. I am no good at speaking in front of crowds but I stood and introduced myself and told them about my hometown and all those mundane details. But when I came to explain my professional interests, I struggled for the words. It is still pretty hard for me to speak about MRKH. I mean really, I don’t think there is anything more personal to me. I shared few details, explaining only that it was a congenital anomaly that affects female fertility and I did not say “Oh and by the way, I have been struggling with this for over eight years now” but I was calm and confident in my explanation. When I sat back down, I was so proud of myself (that I had managed to keep it together) and to top it off, my prof and my colleagues were really interested in what I had to say. I got several questions, none that I dreaded (like “how do you know about this?”) and on top of that I heard the the girl behind me whisper to her friend: “That sounds interesting.” It made me feel really good!

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Let her make her choice – MRKH: intersex or not? You decide.

August 21, 2010 at 1:57 pm (General information about MRKH., Housekeeping: General blog info, Just wondering...)

I have no wish to get political but it was recently brought to my attention that some of the articles/links that I have been sharing with you may suggest that MRKH is an intersex condition. In reviewing the literature, sometimes MRKH may be mentioned as part of a document on intersex conditions but it itself is not considered an intersex condition. MRKH is classified more as a syndrome of congenital anomalies (structural abnormalities occuring during fetal development). My job here is to present the literature, educate you and allow you to decide what you identify yourselves as. We are all 100% women, always remember that!

This being said, I do not want to discriminate against those who choose to identify themselves as intersex. It is all a matter of choice. Some MRKH women who identify as intersex are met with considerable resistance by the rest of the MRKH community. I think we should all respect the choices and opinions of others. The controversy can cause younger MRKH women some confusion and it is not up to anyone to decide what she identifies with. Without fear, we should be providing all the options without the baggage of our own personal beliefs. So please respect our sisters and accept her regardless! There is enough prejudice without harbouring it in our own community.

Thank you ladies!

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Baby Blues, times two.

August 3, 2010 at 7:34 pm (My Story.)

This past weekend I attended my friend’s stag and doe. Lots of people were there and the conversations all were steered towards marriage and babies. Having been with my partner for almost four and a half years, naturally lots of people were wondering when we are to get hitched and start reproducing. It is so funny to see their faces drop when you say well maybe we are not planning on having children and maybe we are not prepared financially and otherwise to get married. The response is so predictable – it is always the same: “Oh…I see. Well, good for you.” Anyways, my friend was beaming as family and friends gathered around her to congratulate her. She had been holding her three month old cousin when she suddenly passed him onto me to go attend to some kitchen crisis. Suddenly, I found myself holding this baby and bouncing him around on my hip as if it were the most natural thing in the world. He cooed away quite happily, looking around him as if fascinated by the all the frantic comings and goings. Holding him gave me that elated feeling but at the same time, the pit of my stomach lurched with sadness as I wondered: “Will this ever be me?” It was only for a fleeting moment but still the thought was there…

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Is “baby craving” contagious?

July 12, 2010 at 11:35 pm (Just wondering...)

I was recently shopping with friends with the objective of helping a friend of mine find a gift for his newborn nephew. Of course we had to wade through a sea of baby paraphernalia before we found something that was just right.  I was excited at this opportunity to help him pick out cute stuffed animals and soft blankets so I went to town, running around picking things up for his approval. But as I stood alone in front of a crib, I experienced a moment of sadness. This crib was beautifully lined with soft pastel blankets complete with a mobile hanging overhead that chimed “Its a Small World After All.” As I stood there, an image of myself looking down into a sleeping baby’s face popped into my head. I mentally fought with this image, struggling to put it out of my mind as I felt my throat close and my eyes well up. As I came to, I looked down again and saw the crib was empty. It was strange how such a joyous occasion for a friend, suddenly became sad for myself, knowing what I know. I breathed, regaining composure before walking away from that crib to rejoin my friends.

Later (on the same occasion), I was in the same store this time talking to a girlfriend of mine as we sifted through various sleepers and baby outfits. We marvelled at how small some of them were and then she quietly confessed how she had been collecting little hats, shoes and baby outfits for years. I was stunned! She is a single career oriented girl and, as far as I know, miles away from any prospects of having children. I had no idea! Then it got me thinking that maybe we just all have our moments where we long for motherhood. It is natural that we experience maternal feelings towards children. While I was surprised at what she said, I was also somewhat comforted by it. I think this sort of told me that while her desires were a little premature, I was not alone in having these maternal thoughts cross my mind from time to time. It also affirmed for me the fact that these thoughts were not totally originating from my MRKH and that other women were also able to relate to these feelings.

In sharing this story my hope is that it will bring enlightenment to you as this moment did for me.

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Testing friendship.

July 12, 2010 at 1:04 am (My Story.)

The process of accepting and embracing MRKH has been a difficult road, beginning with reaching out to others who have felt as I have. It has taken me years of pain to come to this place but now that I am here I feel much better about my diagnosis. Recently, I decided that the next step was to share my experience with a very good friend of mine. I felt that it was time to acknowledge MRKH as part of my life and therefore a part of me. It was a decision that I did not take lightly but as this friend has been part of my life (I am sure that she does not know how much of an impact her friendship has had on my life over the years) for over a decade, this was something I have wanted to do for a while.

Sharing MRKH with someone who has not experienced it themselves, was very difficult. It was a painful for me to share but cathartic at the same time. It was almost like putting all the cards out on the table – being vulnerable – all over again. Sort of like saying: “Hello meet the real me.” Not that I held onto this because I wanted to hurt anyone but I mean, what do you do with all of this information? As I have said before, I was clueless for years and years. So, it got buried somewhere deep down until I was ready to face it. Head on. It was funny how when I told her I almost felt like I was confessing to something. At the same time that I felt fearful, I felt liberated. She was great about it, supportive and curious. I do not think that I explained it in the best way possible but how do you say that after all of these years, I have kept something like this from you? She was stunned that I kept it from her for all of these years – I hope she understands why now. I was fearful that it would change our friendship or how she saw me. But some friends – the right ones – are like family. No matter what, she will always be the sister that I never had.

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The Biological Lottery.

July 5, 2010 at 1:49 am (Just wondering...)

While MRKH does not define who we are, it shapes our outlook and influences every aspect of our lives – even in small ways, ways that maybe we cannot even imagine.  Thinking about this, I have began to see this as some lottery that has helped to unite us women. Together, we have built a strong community of women, all of which come from different walks of life, and despite our different experiences, we can and have helped each other. I feel truly privileged to have communicated with such amazing individuals. For that, I would like to thank you all because each of you and your stories has had an impact on me. This support means more to me then you can imagine. Then again, I do not need to tell you that – you already know how valuable this support can be. If ever things are getting you down, keep this one thought in your head: We have the support and understanding of each other and that is something that we can never trade.

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