Thank you so much Mel for sharing yours . . .
What they don’t tell you
I don’t know why I wanted to write this. I think I’m trying to channel my thoughts in a more positive way. Ask any of my friends and family and they will tell you I talk freely about my fertility. But I’m painfully aware of how difficult I find the whole process, and the experts tell you to open up about it. That it will help you deal with it. So it must be so difficult if you are not naturally an open person. All those thoughts going round and round in your head, the peaks and troughs, and the extreme emotions that you feel. And before I go any further, I want to say that I have the best support network I could ask for. I have a husband and family and friends who are all here for me every step of the way. But it still feels the way it does. We are still going through our fertility treatment, currently awaiting a second implantation after a failed first attempt.
Our journey started 6 years ago. It was so exciting! We were going to start trying for a baby – it was our little secret.
Imagining the faces of our parents and friends when we could tell them we were pregnant made us laugh. We pictured how we would tell them, how we would announce it. We looked forward to those first 12 weeks, where we had agreed we wouldn’t tell anyone and it would be just for us. Talking about grandads and nannas and aunties and uncles – what an incredible gift we will be giving to our families. How a baby would be the apple of grandad’s eye, how he or she would be spoilt by them, even when we didn’t want them to. We talked about names and made jokes, ‘it better not have your temper’ etc etc. Everything else didn’t matter so much anymore, because we would soon be parents and that would be the most important thing in our lives.
But that’s not how it happened. No one tells you what a rollercoaster of emotions you will go through.
No one tells you that you will feel inadequate, that you have let everyone down. No one tells you that you will resent your friends, dislike your acquaintances – that you will feel selfish and self-absorbed for not sharing in their joy as much as you want to. That you will over-analyse every feeling and every situation, ‘did I handle that right?’ ‘Will people think I’m not happy for them?’ ‘Will people think I’m coping well or not?’, ‘Did I mask my sadness well enough?’, ‘They must be sick of hearing me moan’. No one tells you that you will have days where you want to curl up and cry but then you will have other days where you will feel optimistic, that any day now you could be pregnant. Just imagine, it’ll be the best day ever! The weight of expectation has been lifted.
Because that’s what they don’t tell you. They tell you to talk to your family, your friends; that it will help get you through, that people can only understand if you share it with others. But they don’t tell you that this brings a responsibility. Those who care about you are willing you to get pregnant, willing IVF, or IUI, or ICSI, or whatever drugs you’ve been pumped full of, to work. That there will be days where you feel like you have let everyone down, not just yourselves. That you know people want you to get pregnant so it will ease their discomfort – they don’t know what to say or how to make it better, that they know they can’t. That they are on this journey with you and they care about you, that they are sad when you are sad. That you feel guilty all the time.
Working as a teacher has its benefits and its drawbacks. Some days I go in and see the faces of the children, I laugh with them and have fun with them and it makes everything seem a little bit better.
If I can’t have my own children, just maybe I can make a difference to some children. Maybe they will look back and remember me; maybe I can be the teacher they were glad they had?
Other days I struggle. I want to tell them to look after themselves, to look after each other, to spend time with their families. I want a job where I can go and sit in an office, ignore people, be a grown up surrounded by grown-ups. I want to go on holiday, somewhere away from children and their parents. I want to do things I couldn’t do if I were a parent, like sip cocktails on a hammock by crystal clear seas. But I don’t.
I know that I can’t escape how I feel, so maybe spending time with my friends and family is the best medicine, even if it is at home, or at the local pub, or with their kids.
They don’t tell you that you will cry for no reason. That you feel like you are trapped in a nightmare some days and you can’t make it stop. They don’t tell you how difficult it is to explain what is going on in your head. That you try to communicate with your partner, but maybe they aren’t ready, or they don’t know how to either, and this is a strain on your relationship. They don’t tell you that it feels like the elephant in the room when you are feeling fed up, even if that isn’t the reason. Most of all they don’t tell you that you will be frightened. That it’s scary to contemplate a future without children, if that’s all you’ve ever wanted. That when you finally build up the courage to have fertility treatment you are scared to death of how you will cope if or when it doesn’t work.
You imagine that one day all this will be behind you, you will have had children or you won’t, but this feeling will be gone.
You long for that day to come and then worry that you are wishing your life away. You know that you should be enjoying this time of your life, you have no dependents, you only need to worry about each other. You have jobs and money and family and friends. Other people would envy what you have. You should feel grateful for it all, and take advantage of all this freedom. Go and see things, do things, buy things, have fun. But some days you can’t do that, because you would give it all up in a heartbeat just for that baby.
And if all this seems dramatic, or self-absorbed and ungrateful, then it probably is. Of course there are people in the world with far more to be upset about than me and I don’t want sympathy from anyone. My life is brilliant and I’m eternally grateful for all the things I have – my health, my family, my friends, my career. But that doesn’t change how I feel some days and I won’t apologise for that. And neither should you.
Mel, you have been amazing in sharing your story. We can’t thank you so much for being so brave in sharing your thoughts and being a comfort to others to realise they are not alone in feeling this way. Sending so much love x