The healing power of music

Trying to stay positive and focused when you are TTC is tough, especially when you experience the heartache of failed treatment.

I failed 3 times. Each time I went through several stages of grief for the child I thought I was going to hold in my arms.

  • Shock
  • Pain and sadness
  • Anger
  • Depression
  • The upward turn
  • Reconstruction and working through
  • Acceptance and hope

I remember the first time I got the call to say that my treatment had failed. My doctor told me that there was no pregnancy. I simply replied, “OK, thanks very much” and then hung up.

I went in to total shock. I didn’t ever think the treatment would fail.

I tried many of my own coping techniques. I tried isolation at first. I wanted to be alone with my sadness. I wanted to wallow in my grief and I didn’t want to smile. I would spend hours sat with my journal, pouring my hurt and anger on to the pages. I didn’t want the pity of my ‘fertile friends’ who didn’t have a clue how raw this pain of not knowing if you will ever be a mother to a child, actually is. My journal was a major part of my survival.

Then I wanted to rebel, so I went out a few days after my treatment failed and I got completely ‘plastered’.

To this day, I would say that is the most drunk I have ever been. The pain of the hangover, still fresh in my mind after all these years!

I didn’t think to go and see a counselor who specialised in infertility. My first failed treatment was 11 years ago. Nobody even mentioned that this was an option. Back then there wasn’t support or information from Facebook groups or websites like this. I knew no one who had failed. I couldn’t reach out to anyone who had failed. So I typed grief in to Google in the hope of some guidance. This is what I found:

How do you get over grief?

  • Express yourself.
  • Allow yourself to feel sad.
  • Keep your routine up.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Avoid things that “numb” the pain, such as alcohol.
  • Counseling

Apart from the ‘avoid alcohol’ and the ‘go to counseling’ bit, I was pretty much ticking the points off the list, but the sadness was still ripping my heart to shreds.

But then a friend who had lost a loved one suggested I make a healing playlist of songs, as listening to music can help us process our emotions and move forwards. The songs you choose can help navigate feelings that defy words. I did a bit of research on this and found out that many counselors use music as a coping technique for people suffering with grief.

The science behind this is based on the concept of ‘entrainment’ – ‘the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm’. Our brain waves, heartbeat and motor areas are inclined to align with a song’s rhythm, which helps us to process our emotions and move forward. Music has also been shown to ease pain and release ‘endogenous opioids’ in the brain.

So, the first song I chose would reflect my then current emotional state – complete sadness and devastation.

Researchers have found that even sad music stimulates activity in the reward and pleasure centres of the brain. I wasn’t sure how listening to a sad song would help me feel better, but I went with it. I chose Songbird by Eva Cassidy.

My friend said I should then add three or four songs that would gradually move me towards my desired emotional state, i.e. sheer joy at becoming a mother!! (obvs!) I chose a handful of songs that comforted me, but the one that stands out (and please don’t judge me on my appalling music choice!) was ‘What about now’ by Westlife. I chose it not for the lyrics, but for the way it would emotionally lift me.

I used to always listen to my playlist as I walked through Victoria Park on my way to work. It was my ‘mix tape’, just for me, to comfort me.

By the time the Westlife song came on (I still feel awkward sharing my song choice with you!) my mood would have lifted. I would begin to visualise pushing a pram through the park, looking down at my baby smiling back at me.

My playlist was without doubt incredibly healing. It was almost like a form of meditation. I found that having those 30 minutes of ‘me time’, meant I could then arrive at work ready to face people.

I have shared with you all before that after 4 years of trying, I was blessed with twin girls. Lola and Darcy are 7 this year and I pinch myself every day, that they are actually mine.

A month ago, I finished work early and made plans with my husband to meet him and my daughters in Victoria Park. As I walked through the park to get to them, I pulled out my iPod. I scrolled through my healing playlist that I will always treasure.  I put on the Westlife song and smiled the biggest smile ever.

Longing for a child is an undeniable pain. Comfort yourself. Create a playlist and allow yourself the headspace to process your thoughts. I’d also love to know if you have a cheesier song than mine!

As always, I send you all so much love and support.

Sara x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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