LET’S TALK ABOUT INFERTILTY, PREGNANCY AND MOTHERHOOD.
Unless you have been through an infertility journey you cannot really resonate with all three of the above headings.
Many will think of pregnancy and motherhood. That pregnancy will happen relatively easily and followed then by motherhood, possibly multiple times.
Both can bring excitement and indeed a rollercoaster of emotions as you navigate pregnancy and then the shift from woman to mother and the change in identity, relationships, energy, priorities and indeed the responsibility that comes with that title.
We then have the whole other realm of infertility. Something that definitely has to be experienced and lived through to for us to fully understand. It is a whole other level of emotional rollercoaster. An unimaginable and indeed unspoken level of heartache, loneliness, anger, loss, grief, trauma, anxiety, frustration, confusion and complete overwhelm to name just a few. It affects us physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. It affects our sense of self, identity, confidence, connection, relationships, friendships and so much more. Yet none of this is spoken about.
It is something that very much needs to be spoken about. To be acknowledged, to have women and indeed partners the world over, have that space to feel heard, to feel acknowledged, listened to and have all feelings, thoughts, experience, loss and grief validated. It needs to start now.
My own personal journey spanned over the space of a decade. With 7 years of TTC, 5 years ‘naturally’ and a further 2 with assisted treatment/IVF. The emotional rollercoaster, unprocessed feeling, thoughts and experiences, coupled with anxiety overflowing into the following 3 years. These are 10 years that I can never get back. The pregnancy was one filled, in fact overflowing with, anxiety, worry and fear. Something I had longed for, for so long was not at all what I thought it would be. Something I deserved to enjoy, yet endured. Then motherhood again was not what I expected. I was completely blindsided by how I thought I would feel and what I thought it would be like. What it was actually like and how I actually felt were worlds apart.
It was only when I went back to study and research that I came across the concept of reproductive trauma, loss and grieve. It was a game changer for me. I felt like everything finally made sense. I understood what had been going on for me and felt validated for the first time.
Adjusting to motherhood is hard. Doing so with years and layer upon layer of grief, loss and trauma adds a new unspoken level of overwhelm. I felt so lost. I knew I was not depressed, but I also knew I was not ok and I had no idea why.
PREGNANCY AND MOTHERHOOD DO NOT CURE INFERTILTY. What do I mean by that? They do not make all the feelings of lack, loss, grief, trauma, anger, not being in control, sadness, frustration, loneliness, failure, not being enough or overwhelm magically vanish. Believing that they will (maybe they do for some, but it has not been my experience) only opens us up to a world of confusion and pain.
I do not say this lightly and I do not say it to frighten or overwhelm anyone. I say it from a place of knowing. From a place of personal experience and from a place of seeing it in others and hearing about it from the mouths of women having navigated infertility, pregnancy and motherhood. The ones that pushed through, squashed everything down and just kept going. Because that is what we do right?
WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.
It is so important to have space to feel seen, heard and held. To process feelings, thoughts and experiences. All of them. Right from the start of TTC. I believe my journey would have been very different had I had that support and that much needed space. I would have felt more confident, I would have understood myself more, I would have enjoyed my pregnancy and indeed the first few years of my motherhood journey. But I didn’t know. I wasn’t aware and I no longer beat myself up about it.
My past experience is not something I can change, there is no ‘do-over’. But I have awareness now. Knowing, confidence, understanding and compassion that I give to myself. That I now share in supporting other women, wherever they are on their journey.
I say this loudly and I say it with love. Dear reader, please know you matter. Know you are enough. Know that it is possible to feel joy, confidence and in control while you wait for your baby. That you can handle anything that comes your way. Give yourself the gift of time to talk about what is going on for you. No longer feel you have to park anything, forget, move on, let go. Instead embrace the you that you are now and know you deserve to enjoy life. RIGHT NOW.
Let’s change the way we connect with and support each other. Let’s create space for open and honest conversations about infertility, pregnancy and motherhood. Change is possible and it happens one conversation at a time. I hope this blog had helped you. If you would like support please do feel free to get in touch. firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me www.fertilitywellbeingireland.comhttps://www.instagram.com/fertilitywellbeingireland/