Trying to have a baby can be a wonderful thing except when it doesn’t go the way you planned. After eight years of trying to have a baby, here are some things I'd like to share about the fertility journey.
Infertility is painful. It's private, it's intimate, and it's silent. No one seems to know what to say. There is no time off work for the grief. There is no funeral for the loss of something that never existed.
Infertility seeks up on you. The emotions build slowly and compound and before you know it you are on the crazy train doing the same thing over and over hoping that this time things will be different. It’s the daily, monthly, and yearly strain of trying and failing, of hope and disappointment. Infertility is a grind. It's everyday, it's non-stop and it becomes hard to separate it from the rest of your life. It’s not a one-time event that you process and then move on from.
The longer it takes, the more you focus on it, the more you invest in it, and ultimately the more you want it.
It is easy to focus on ‘fixing the problem’, and place all our hope in the practical actions and interventions. These are important but need to be balanced with time just to nurture yourself. Take time to heal, to be still, to play, and to nourish yourself. If I had to have that time again, I wouldn't try so hard.
Saying that, it's important to research your options. In a process which feels out of our control, find some control by being informed and choose the treatments that feel right to you. Make the choices you want to make and know that it is ok to do things your way.
Know that people around you want to support you even if they don’t always know how.
Give yourself permission to feel. I use to contain my feelings neatly and tightly away like storing them in a wee storage container for later, convincing myself I was fine. Maybe I was afraid of what it meant to deal with what was happening. Since becoming a Fertility Support Coach I've met many strong women who don’t allow themselves to open up and be vulnerable - it seems to be a thing. We are so good at picking ourselves up and carrying on because that is what is expected of us. Honour yourself and what you are going through. Allow yourself to feel the disappointment, the hopelessness, the grief, the loss or whatever it is you may be feeling. Go with it so you can move through it.
You are not obliged to go to that baby shower if you don’t want to! Do things that make you feel good.
It is easy to feel isolated on this journey but you do not need to. If there is anything I have learnt since sharing my story is that so many women are going through or have been through this. Whether it is an online group, a friend, or someone professional, find someone to talk to who understands your experience and offers you the support you need. Use your experience to be there for someone else too.
Think about giving yourself a date that you stop. A date when you say 'no more'. It’s important to see the end and know that this is not forever. Saying goodbye to the dream of children after eight years of trying may be the hardest thing I've ever done but I have never looked back.Letting go isn't failure. It isn't giving up. It's setting yourself free. For me, it has allowed me to fully enjoy the other aspects of my life rather than focus on what I don't have.
And most importantly, not having a baby doesn’t mean we are broken. We have not failed. You are no less of a woman just because you haven’t conceived a child at this time. Whether you have a child or not, you can be whole, fulfilled and happy.