I wrote this post before I got a positive test and never posted it. Having read a few posts recently though, about non-pregnant ladies feeling left behind because it seems that everyone else now is pregnant, I think it’s still right to post it. It says everything I felt about my life since October when I first miscarried.
Now I seem to be in that place where it looks as though I’m leaving people behind, I want to send a very, very clear message behind it, a promise: no matter what, I WILL NOT FORGET. I will never belittle you. God, I don’t even know what will happen in the next week, but I know I will always be there for those finding the ttc journey a difficult one.
And for the record, I still feel like this, despite carrying around a 6+4 Easter egg.
I hope this all makes sense.
Living in Fear and with the Fear or Forgetfulness:
From reading IF blogs, fear is right up there as a top emotion. Many (in)fertiles live daily, each minute even, with the fear of never getting pregnant, having a(nother) miscarriage or never having children. Some fear that their infertility will disappoint their family, friends, partner, or fear that infertility will take over their life, change them as a person.
But this doesn’t even scratch the surface.
At the moment, I am living in abject fear of my family and friends. Let’s take a relative of mine. I don’t see them all that often because they live hours away and so our communication tends to revolve around quick social media comments and occasional texts. So when their name flashes up on my phone as an actual call, I’m petrified. Why? I’m fully aware that they stopped trying to prevent pregnancy months ago, and by the law of odds, it’s likely I could be on the road to being an auntie very shortly. And every time a phone call comes through from them, naturally I think this is what it will be about. Of course, it’s likely not. And even if it was, it would be wonderful news. But yet it would crush me. I’m not saying I don’t want them to have a baby, but for them not to even properly ‘try’, and then succeed, it’s hard to swallow.
The same is with friends of mine. Their first baby was born just after we decided to try for a family and when the birthday comes around, it’s very much a reminder that it’s another year we are not holding our own child. I know that they want to try for another baby any time now – first time round, they conceived in month one of trying, and although that baby miscarried at three months, they conceived again just weeks after. Just 13 months after starting the ttc journey, they had their baby. Based on that, it’s safe to say the second child probably will be here before mine. It WOULD be the most wonderful thing in the world but yet it would break my heart, utterly and truly, to be ‘lapped’, for them to find it so easy and us to struggle so, so much. I’m not saying I want them to struggle, I just want our journey to actually go somewhere, like theirs, a car on a road, rather than ours, a fairground car ride, going round and round and round on the tracks.
I live in fear of others receiving the best news they could ever hear, because it will feel like a kick in the face. I live in fear of hearing how X’s 26 week bump is just so perfect, because I would’ve been further on than that by now, and mine would’ve been so perfect, too. I live in fear of hearing about friends of mine who ‘accidentally conceived’. I live in fear of having to go to baby showers, because it’s just a reminder of what I should’ve already had and haven’t and aren’t likely to in the near future. I live in fear of feeling like I have to cut out friendships or lock myself away, because news of their blooming bellies is more than I can handle. I even live in fear of hearing about the birth of the Royal Baby (UK) being born because it was due only days before mine. And it will be plastered EVERYWHERE. No escape. Everything just reminds me that no matter what we do, no matter how healthy our lifestyles are, or how much we want it, it clearly makes no difference: that bastard stork still isn’t choosing us.
It has taken me a long time to realise that this isn’t me being selfish or dramatic. It’s not me being a bad friend. For months, I have beaten myself up over being a terrible person, a disgusting friend who cannot be happy for the people in her life. But that’s not it, that’s just not ‘me’. I am the first to congratulate people, cry with joy when people get good news, shower them with gifts, love, whatever. So now, this ‘me’ that clams up, struggles to formulate and organise her mouth to say or fingers to type how ‘happy’ I am for them, THIS IS NOT ME. I am happy for THEM, but beyond devastated for me. I don’t want to not hear the news, but I can’t pretend it won’t hurt.
I know friends and family will never understand. They won’t. How I can simultaneously be so bereft and so heartbroken about good news? Some would cut me out entirely, saying I’m self-absorbed, selfish or horrible. “Why is she avoiding me? It’s just so childish!” But my experience is very much that no matter if you’ve struggled for children, once you’ve got them, you forget just what you went through.
“No,” you say, “I’ll never forget!”
But people do.
And I want to scream and shake them: DON’T YOU REMEMBER?? Can you not think how it crushed you to see pregnancy announcements? New-born pictures, updates, then almost-daily pictures, knowing you were so far away from that? How your heart physically ached with pain? How the discussions always seem to revolve around how lovely it is to be a parent and how long until they try for another? How life has so much more meaning now they’re a parent? It cuts deeply.
I want to still be in their lives and them in mine SO much, but it hurts me too much. People have forgotten just what an outsider it makes you when so many of your friends are all mums/dads and you’re so, so not.
The arrival of a real, live baby covers the past grief up, like a huge plaster/band-aid). Yes, that’s lovely, it IS. But please, spare a thought for those of us still left on the snowy, bitterly cold porch outside. Whilst you’re basking in the metaphorical living room of parental happiness, with a warm, cosy, log-fire burning, surrounded by baby giggles and love hearts floating around the room, WE NEED YOU to remember.
We need to remember what it’s like to be out here, looking in on the happy family scenes.
We need to you remember how it felt when everyone around you was conceiving and everywhere you looked, there were reminders that you weren’t.
When you don’t know if you’ll ever be a parent.
When your entire dream of the future is pulled from underneath you in the shape of devastating diagnoses, failed treatment plans, injections, scans, recurrent miscarriage and a whole barrage of questions about your future you know will never be answered.
And that even if you do conceive or adopt, the scars you bear from your battle for baby will make many so-called exciting experiences utterly terrifying.
We need to you remember that when people said, with eyes full of patronising ‘compassion’, “Your time will come,” to recall that emptiness, that panic, that fear that, actually, no, our time may NOT come. Ever.
I live in constant fear. Fear that I’m not understood. Fear that I’m causing pain for others by being unable to share fully in their happiness. Fear that those I used to be able to turn to have forgotten what it’s like to be where I am.
Infertility is petrifying. I often hear the saying of, “Unless you’ve experienced it, you won’t understand.” That’s not right. It should be, “Unless you’re experiencING it, you won’t understand.”