From an early age life’s path was laid out to be quite simple. Complete your education, get a well-paid job, marry a good partner and then start your own family. Luckily for me, three out of four of those were in fact quite simple, but it took us nearly three years of heartache to accomplish the fourth. Last year, I published a blog detailing the highs and lows of my journey to motherhood. I was astonished by the response it got, particularly from women within my community. It seemed many had experienced what I had, but suffered in silence and felt it was still too taboo of a subject to discuss openly.
My journey to motherhood consisted of years of trying to conceive naturally, miscarriages and a failed round of IVF. It was a story of heartache, hope and self-discovery. Whilst, I am now a proud mother of a beautiful baby boy conceived through IVF, I have recently suffered yet another loss and find my strength being tested once again. These past few years I have learnt that I have a deeper reservoir of strength than I could have ever imagined and as Maya Angelou described, ‘there is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you’. So here I am reflecting on what I learnt and telling my story to release some of the agony.
- It’s all consuming
When you decide you are ready to have a family and it doesn’t happen for you, it can eat away at you. I found that I was just not myself. Every pram that I saw, every baby shower that I was invited to and every social media post I scrolled through reminded me of the fact that I was not falling pregnant. It’s all I could think and dream about. I became obsessed that this was happening for everyone but me.
- Words can hurt just as much as needles
I’d have people prematurely congratulate me, unnecessarily quiz me and awkwardly put me on the spot when it came to ‘was I pregnant?’. Aunties asking when I’d be starting or extending my family (as if I wasn’t trying), elders commenting on the weight that I had put on (because of all the medication I was taking) and people assuming I had put my career ahead of starting a family (even though we had been actively trying for years). I’d brush the comments off with a smile even though on the inside my heart was crying.
- You never know what others are facing, always be kind
‘Are you really trying?’, ‘Doesn’t he want a little brother or sister?’, ‘You know you’re most fertile in the first year of giving birth’ – nothing good can ever come from these kinds of comments. There are unfortunately so many couples I know that are struggling to conceive. And whilst I am generally an optimist, infertility has taught me that life can be quite cruel, which is why it’s so important to be always be kind.
- Don’t suffer in silence
Struggling to conceive and coping with loss was very physically, mentally and emotionally draining. It was important for me to talk openly to my husband as well as close friends and family members about how I was feeling. When I wasn’t up to talking I would write things down, this became my therapy, helping me to celebrate the highs and cope with the lows. When I’ve been at my most vulnerable, those that I had confided in were the ones that pulled me through, and I am truly thankful for their support.
- Trust your resilience
There were dark times in this journey where I was doubting how I would get through the days and weeks; whether I had the energy or the fight within me. But prayer, faith and friendship helped me to build my emotional resilience and find the strength to make it out the other side.
For all those trying to conceive be it your first, or your second, be brave, be beautiful, but most of all be kind to yourself (and others)