The Big Issue : Edition 563
THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 1–14 JUN 2018 27 or a gold medal, or a grand final. It’s such a special moment and that three- second period is the only time I ever miss playing. But now I’m able to sit in my daughter’s classroom and tell her friends about it and show them a gold medal [from the Commonwealth Games] and to perhaps inspire them to excel in whatever field they choose – that’s probably the legacy for me. It’s really satisfying seeing women’s sport get a higher profile. I don’t feel like I missed out at all, it’s like my generation paved the way for the next generation, who paved the way for what’s happening now – we are all standing on each other’s shoulders. I’m really proud, but I also feel like this is just the beginning; this is not as good as it gets. I was never going to have children – not interested at all. My husband and I met when I was 20, but it wasn’t until my late thirties that I thought maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea. We decided we wanted to get pregnant and six weeks later I was. I breezed through the pregnancy – had a great birth and suddenly I had this kid. I fell pregnant again really quickly, but I miscarried and then after months of trying we started on that infertility road. I think I had a high expectation of my body because for so many years it had always done exactly what it was supposed to do. I was able to train, I was able to lift certain weights and train a certain way and change my body and my muscles would respond and my lungs would respond. And whatever I did, whatever I asked for ittodo,itdid.ButIthinkalotofwomen do feel betrayed by their body. It affected my whole sense of self for so many years. I threw myself into my work to get my mind off it. But it’s hard to turn up on television and be like, “Hey, I’m happy to talk about sport but really I’m heartbroken because I’ve had another miscarriage, or my latest IVF treatment didn’t work.” That’s really hard. For nearly five years we tried to fall pregnant. We tried IVF and drugs and acupuncture, and we spent a fortune. Then we realised after a while that it was affecting our time with our daughter – we were focusing on what we didn’t have and PHOTOSBYGETTYANDSUPPLIEDBYLIZELLIS “It just really reminded me of the human heart’s capacity to love and to be resilient.” LEFT LIZ (13) AND HER SISTER KATH (11) RIGHT AUSTRALIA VS JAMAICA AT THE NETBALL WORLD CUP, 1999 not what we did have. So, we got to the point where we’d given up – and then he came along the old-fashioned way when he was good and ready. Little ratbag! When the two little lines finally came up I couldn’t believe it. It was such a shock and straightaway the anxiety starts. You have this huge feeling of joy with an anxiety chaser. Lots of people think that the moment you fall pregnant that’s the end of your infertility journey but it’s not, it’s another journey altogether that is so linked to it. You worry about everything. It’s so hard to know where to start. Every time I wanted to find something out I’d google, and I’d get millions and millions of hits, and the first 10 are ads trying to flog something. When I was playing I used to annoy my coach, because I liked knowing all the time what’s next, what’s next? With fertility there was nothing about what was next. I just wanted a bit of a road map. That’s why I decided to write a book about it. You mention you are writing a fertility book and people tell you things. I was really amazed, people came forward and were so generous with their stories. And almost everyone said they just wanted to make it easier for the next person. They wanted what they went through to actually mean something by helping somebody else. I learned so much from speaking to total strangers. Speaking to people on the phone and bawling my eyes out because it was so amazing or emotional or inspiring or sad or it made me angry. But what struck me most was the ability of people to go through so much, to go through such sadness and to be able to get up and keep going. It just really reminded me of the human heart’s capacity to love and to be resilient. I would tell my 16-year-old self, “You’ll end up with a really hot husband.” It still amazes me to this day. I never thought boys would be interested, which is such a stupid thing to think, isn’t it? I’d also like to tell her that it’ll work out in the end and you will be strong enough – because that’s the thing you doubt about yourself at that age. You’ll be good enough and strong enough to achieve your dreams. by Katherine Smyrk (@KSmyrk), Deputy Editor » If at First You Don’t Conceive is out now.