Lessons learnt on a fertility journey
Like so many others, I found it hard to talk about my infertility. Whether it was a fear of being judged, thinking that others did not want to hear about my problems, feeling that my needs were not important or rather not valid, that it was somehow my fault, or that it was best to ignore it and just get on with things, for whatever reason, I kept my infertility on the down low. I did not want to share just how much I was struggling, heck, most of the time I didn’t even acknowledge it myself.
Infertility can make you feel so alone, especially as those around you celebrate pregnancies and children. You feel excluded, and on top of that, it’s isolating to experience something that those around you don’t understand. It’s just a hard thing to share.
I realise now just how much I needed to talk about it. Hindsight is good like that.
I needed to be brave enough to share but I also needed to feel safe enough to share. I needed to feel supported - not be offered advice or told about someone who’d ‘let go’ and got pregnant. I needed people who didn’t tell me to ‘just relax’, ‘get drunk’, or asked if we’d considered adoption.
I craved to be heard and to feel understood. I desperately needed to know that what I was experiencing was completely normal, that there were others feeling the same way as me, be reassured my feelings were valid.
I wanted someone to ask me how I was and to listen. That’s all. That alone would have helped ease the burden, the shame, the isolation I felt. Infertility is too much for one person, one couple, to carry on their own.
I realise now that even though it was hard, there was more I could have done to get the support I needed.
If I had the time again, I’d reach out more. I’d keep reaching out until I found the right support for me. I wouldn’t be put off by the insensitive (albeit innocent) comments of a few. And I’d be more selective about who I shared with.
I’d contact those around me I suspected were also struggling, even though it would mean I’d have to admit I was not coping.
I would by-pass the surface level conversations about fertility drugs, and reproductive procedures and have real conversations about the emotional rollercoaster we were on. As well as my physical health, I’d also focus on my emotional well being and do more to ease my heartache and heal my spirit.
I would let those close to me in a little more. I’d understand that infertility is also tricky for them to navigate so I’d be brave and let them know how they could support me.
I’d try a new counsellor after the first made me even worse, and the second just did not understand at all. I’d keep trying until I found one that helped me to feel better.
I would research more about the emotional impact of infertility so that I could know that it was ok to feel like I was, that I wasn’t going crazy, and it certainly just wasn’t me.
I would be more vulnerable, ask for more help, and be way way more compassionate with myself. It’s not to dwell on it or feel sorry for myself. It’s just that I would be more honest about the impact, and be more proactive about moving through it.
It takes courage to admit you need help and it takes courage to share that you are struggling. I’ve yet to meet a woman with infertility who was not struggling and who did not need to talk. It does not matter how resilient you are, infertility is too relentless to deal with on your own.
We all deserve to be supported. Infertility is a big deal.
If you’re struggling to conceive, whether it’s your first child or your second, I want you to know that although it may not feel like it, you are not alone. There are people who understand what you are going through and people who want to support you - you do not have to carry this on your own.
Sending you all much love on your journeys.
If you’re struggling to find the right people to support you, then come and join the Fertility Potentials Community. It’s a safe, supportive space and it’s private. Or please reach out. I am here for you.