When Trying to Have Children Doesn’t Work Out
My husband and I tried to conceive for about eight years, and despite my best efforts, trying to have a baby took over my life. I wanted to be a mother and I would do everything I could to make it happen. It never occurred to me I wouldn’t.
For as long as I could remember I’d wanted children. When I was a kid, I remember telling people I’d have lots of children when I grew up. I come from a large family and have many nieces and nephews. Having a baby seemed like the most natural thing in the world. I assumed it would just happen for us. After all, I’d spent so long not trying to get pregnant.
We started trying quite casually – you know when you’re not really trying but happy if it happens. But then we became more strategic. The longer we tried to conceive, the harder we tried.
When it didn’t happen, we had the tests and scans done. We were told there were no problems and that we had unexplained infertility.
I was surprised. Previously I’d been diagnosed with endometriosis and I assumed this was the issue. The fertility specialist said it was mild and wouldn’t affect my fertility.
I wasn’t taking any chances. I went on a quest to become as healthy, and as fertile, as I could.
The first thing I changed was my diet. I eliminated anything that could be the problem and added in all the good stuff.
I was drinking a lot back then and cut down. There would still be the occasional big night out after I got my period and needed to drown my sorrows.
I started taking supplements and herbs. I saw naturopaths, osteopaths, and acupuncturists. I was officially obsessed. I thought if I could get pregnant if I could just eliminate my painful periods and cure my endo.
I succeeded. My cycle became textbook and there was no more endo. But still no pregnancy.
I charted my temperature every morning for years. As well as diligently tracking my cycle, I peed on sticks. I cannot tell you how many hundreds of sticks I have peed on.
I have never had a positive pregnancy test.
Every month I would think this could be the month. I had to. It took a lot to remain positive and hopeful but underneath the positivity, I was extremely sad.
On top of that, I felt the pressure of time and I knew it was running out. It needed to happen soon.
Everyone I knew babies. Halfway through one year, I stopped counting the number of pregnancies at 15. Some friends were onto their third.
I went to many baby showers I didn’t enjoy and holidays with friends and their young families that were a disaster for me. I desperately wanted into the mum’s club – I felt excluded and alone. Infertility was all I thought about and it impacted my decisions, my career, my relationship and my friendships.
Not being able to conceive made me feel broken, eroded my self-worth and affected my sense of being a woman.
At the time, I underestimated the impact this experience had on me and didn’t look after my emotional well-being at all.
Part of the problem for me is that I didn’t talk about it much. People talk about infertility so much more now than when I was silently struggling. I struggled to be open about what I was experiencing and feeling. I carried a sense of failure and this was my shameful secret. The whole time I felt like I had to maintain this front that it wasn’t a big deal and I was coping.
Things came to a point where we went through an IVF treatment and I got pregnant for the first time. We were so excited and I was confident it would all go smoothly. We booked a midwife and planned when I was going to finish work. And then we lost the baby – around seven or eight weeks. We were devastated. I’ve never felt so much grief and loss in my life.
I know many women go through worse experiences than that, so it wasn’t particularly special in any way. It was a low point and it hit me hard. I was so incredibly exhausted by the loss, and by the years of relentlessly trying and failing to have a baby.
I’d wanted a family for as long as I could remember and the version of my life without children was never a possibility, but years of infertility left me feeling broken and depressed.
I realized something had to change, and if it wasn’t getting the baby I’d always dreamed of, then that something had to be me.
Deciding to let go of trying to have a baby is the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. Once I did, that’s when things started to shift. I was able to start healing and work through the layers of grief. I began piecing my life back together.
I no longer feel a sense of sadness about my experience. With time, I’ve come to feel grateful for the experience and what it's taught me. I like the person I’ve become. I’m stronger, wiser, and more relaxed. By letting go of the vision I had of my life I’ve been able to create a new one and it’s great. I’ve learned to surrender and trust.
Coming to a place of acceptance of my childlessness is so freeing. It's about healing and then looking forward, not back. It’s taken time, and lots of support, and has been worth the effort.
I believe that it's possible for everyone to move forward after childlessness. Sometimes you just need to know it’s possible and have someone to show you the way.
About the Author
Kathryn Grace is a Life Coach at Fertility Potentials. She is passionate about supporting women on their fertility journey and helping them find acceptance and peace whatever the outcome.