Beauty & Fashion

I Turned Down the Trip of a Lifetime Because of My Period

Have I told you the one about the time I turned down a trip to South America because of my womb? No? Well, strap in.

I am not, by nature, a patient woman. I’m not sure I’ve ever actually let my toaster finish a cycle without popping it up, at least once, to see if it’s ready yet. I stand up on the train before the next stop is announced. I once swam across a river, fully clothed, because I didn’t want to waste time walking to a bridge.

Which has made waiting for my period to return after a miscarriage, well, hard. Hard and slow and boring and scary and long. On one hand, I have been nervous about bleeding again. After losing a pregnancy at eight weeks, at home and unexpectedly, I didn’t want to have to confront a stain on my sheets, the low grinding discomfort in my back, the bright red flash of loss. I was worried that this echo would trip me up, knock me down, pull me back under. And yet, at the same time, I knew that until I’d had a period, any chance of conceiving was unlikely. A wonderful midwife had explained to me that my body needed a reset, a clear out, and a chance to revive the lining of my womb before any blastocyst tried to set up home in there again. If I wanted to get pregnant again, I needed to have a period.

But did I want to get pregnant again? Was I ready? Was it sensible? Could we handle it? My son is still—in his own complicated, six-year-old way—processing what I’d told him about the miscarriage. My partner had been unsettled and deeply unsure when I’d got pregnant in the first place. Our house is still small, I’m still getting older, money is still a limited resource.

And then the email came: would I like to join a press trip to South America? I would travel to the jungle. I would see incredible things. It might lead to a life-changing experience. Images of parrots and bivouacs, acid-green leaves and misty forests filled my head. Was this a sign? Should I leave the weight of my grief at home for a week, and go live the sort of adventure that occasionally lit up my 20s? Would this be how I filled these bleak weeks, waiting for the bleeding to come? I accepted immediately. I could be bold. I could be glamorous and impulsive and eager. I can handle insects and sleep on the ground; hell, I do it by choice here in England all the time.

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