- Fertility & Reproductive Systems
An Honest Account of Coming to Terms with Infertility
How does it truly feel?
I’m not really sure why I’m writing this if I’m honest. I don’t even know if anyone else will ever get to read it. But I thought it may be therapeutic to document my thoughts and feelings towards a stage in my life that has brought me to my knees and made me question my own strength as to whether I can actually make it through this. Something that despite what life has thrown at me, I have never doubted my ability to survive. I’m talking about infertility.
I’m at the very beginning of a journey that even with the most positive attitude and iron will, won't be enough to make go quicker. That it feels like a life sentence, which will never fully go away. It’s crippling to think that my attitude and strength that has seen me through some difficult times, will not suffice when it comes to ever making this ok.
I’ve read lots of articles written by women who are a lot further along in this journey than I am and they all say that it gets easier. I believe them. It has to get easier because living with the pain I feel right now would lead to a pretty miserable existence. But it’s a very long journey to attain acceptance and feel fulfillment, and that’s daunting. Women also say that it never fully goes away. That there’s always sadness there, it just doesn’t hurt as much and you come to deal with it. But I don’t want sadness to be there for the rest of my life. Yet I am powerless to do anything about it. My strength and resolve (and stubbornness) isn’t going to fix things this time.
I guess I’m writing this because I’m yet to read anything that relates to how I feel and my thoughts about my situation. I am also single and a lot of articles are written by women who have partners. It’s just not the same. So this is for all us single women who face this most difficult of journey's alone.
I’m also tired of reading ’10 steps to moving on’. Things like, see a counselor, take up a hobby, reach out to others, or my favourite…'find god’. Please don’t get me wrong, I appreciate some of things are beneficial, and if you've found comfort and healing from any of it then I'm delighted for you. But I have seen a counselor, I have reached out to people, I have joined forums, but I just haven’t found an honest account from someone that says ‘this is shit. I’m not going to advise you to do things you’re already probably doing. I’m just going to acknowledge the shittiness of your situation and let you know that I get it and I feel the same’. It might not work for everyone, just like me taking up a hobby or finding god won’t make this any easier for me. But personally I would love to read a raw account from someone who is at the beginning of this journey and appreciates just how hard this actually is.
It’s lonely isn't it? No partner to talk things through with. Few friends that truly get how devastating this is. Just how low you feel. How scary it is to face the future. How you cannot imagine ever living a fulfilled life. That you question daily what the point of you even being here is. That you feel a failure. That you feel ashamed and less of a woman. That you are reminded every day of your loss. How it physically hurts to see a baby. Even baby clothes in a department store becomes difficult. It feels like there is no escape. It’s everywhere you turn. It’s like a living nightmare. And some days you just want to stay in bed, put the duvet over your head and shut out the outside world, just to get a break from it all.
But what can you do? You only have two options. Sink or swim. Never in my life, no matter what I’ve had to face, have I ever contemplated suicide. Nor did I ever envisage taking antidepressants. I never judged people who did however, I just considered myself capable of psychologically dealing with anything life had to throw at me. I’m stubborn and I’d refuse to accept that I needed help. Until trying to have a baby. It was a big deal for me and hard to accept that I can’t do this on sheer grit and determination alone. So I started taking antidepressants. I hated it but they helped and they made me feel better. My panic attacks became less frequent and I felt human again. With regards to suicide, it was a brief encounter fortunately, but the thought was certainly there and that’s terrifying enough in itself. I know why I thought about it. It was an easy option to stop the pain that was relentless and prevalent every waking minute of the day. That it would stop the shame and self laothing. I didn’t recognize myself anymore, that I was so needy of support, that I was such a failure, and that I didn’t have the strength to believe I could get through this. All these feelings were so alien to me. Where had I gone? Would I ever come back? As I said, it was fleeting, but the fact it was there unnerved me and made me feel even more detached from myself than ever before. To be honest it scared me. It still scares me even now, looking back. I have never understood suicide, how things could ever get that bad, that it's selfish. But I now understand it. I understand how people can feel it’s the only answer. That they can’t deal with the pain another day. But I thought of the hurt I would cause the people who I loved and this alone made it an unviable option for me. Having come through this stage in my life I can honestly say that I never, ever, want to be back there again.
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom. I discovered and forged friendships with people I never really expected. I don’t really open up to many people and I rarely rely on support from others. I’ve always coped pretty well on my own. But this was too big to go it alone and letting people in and depending on their support was so rewarding and comforting. To be reminded by them that I wasn’t alone. Reassured that I wasn’t going mad and that it was ok and understandable to feel the way I did. That I wasn’t a failure and to be told what they thought of me as a person and how much they loved me. It meant everything to me at that time. That someone believed in me and was there to remind me of the person I used to be and reassure me that I will be that person again. I was never really comfortable nor confident in myself before but at that point I really missed me and I wanted her back. Those hours they spent dedicated to listening to my thoughts and reminding me of who I am and constantly demonstrating their unwavering support will be something that I will never forget and will be forever grateful for. It is without doubt that they helped me through. So I guess one of the ‘top ten steps to moving on’ and reaching out most definitely worked for me.
So where am I at now? Well I’m a long way from where I was when I was at my lowest. I feel myself again. But I still feel the same pain every single day that I have since the start of this journey. My work has been a godsend. It has been the reason I have got out of bed every morning. I love what I do. I’m busy so it helps me think less about what I can’t have. I’m good at my job and my clients regularly tell me so. This contributes to my self worth. It makes me feel less of a failure and that I do serve a purpose. My business is another huge contributory factor towards moving forwards. I have plans for it and it’s my main motivation towards achieving something, albeit not being a mum. I am still daunted by this journey. I worry about who will be with me by my side when I die. I am sad that I wont ever be a grandma. I worry that I will always feel pain when I think about what I will never be. Some days are better than others. I feel proud of myself that I can share other women’s joy of being pregnant. A lot of my clients are pregnant and I don’t feel one bit angry towards them. I am thrilled for them. I am just sad for me. But they have no idea about my situation and I can talk to them about their plans. I love to see them excited, why shouldn’t they. I would be if I were them. The only time I feel anger is when I see pregnant women drinking or smoking or I read stories in the press about neglectful mums.
I still feel shit. I still cry. I’m still daunted by the long journey ahead. There’s a part of me that feels like a child and wants to throw the mother (pardon the pun) of all tantrums and scream ‘no I don’t want to be on this journey, I don’t want to accept it, I don’t want to find a hobby’ But no tantrum is ever going to make this go away. So I’m going to take each day as it comes and take comfort in the fact that although I have a long road ahead, I will never be as low as I was only 6 months ago. That’s progress and I’ll take all the progress I can get right now.
I hope this has been useful. As I said at the beginning, I have no pearls of wisdom to offer, just an understanding of your situation and an honest account of just how shit this is.
Feel free to message me, I’d love to hear your thoughts, good or bad - firstname.lastname@example.org