Not being able to conceive naturally is so hard and no one will ever understand how raw the emotional pain is unless they too have experienced infertility
It’s brutal. It’s constant. It’s always at the forefront of every thought. Trying to balance everyday life with the pressure of a possible imminent emotional breakdown takes a lot of skill and careful self management.
So, we asked our readers how they coped when they were faced with emotional and difficult situations.
The Baby Shower Invite
“Me and my lovely friends have been together since college. There are 6 of us and we adore each other but I have watched each one of them fall pregnant. My panic started to set in after my fourth friend gave birth to her second child. When the invitation from my fifth friend, to her baby shower landed on the doormat I crumbled. Having been to all of the other baby showers for my other friends, I felt worried about turning it down for fear of offending, but the reality is that I knew I just didn’t have the strength to stay calm any more. In a room full of children and their glowing mothers, even if they were my amazing friends. I wanted what they had SO BADLY. I just couldn’t do it to myself, so I turned it down. It didn’t mean that I didn’t love my friend, or that I’m not happy for her. It meant I needed to look after myself. I had to protect me.
I want you to know that it is OK to feel angry and jealous. It is OK to not want to celebrate someone else’s joy. It is OK to not want to shop for someone else’s baby. This is not you being selfish. This is your current state of mind and it needs looking after. It won’t always be like this.
I didn’t think my friend would understand why I couldn’t attend, having been to all the others, so I told her.
I booked some time away to help me get some headspace before my next round of IVF. I asked my mum to buy a little gift for the baby on my behalf so that I could avoid the pain of browsing through Jo Jo Maman Bebe again!
Ask yourself, what’s going to hurt more … swallowing your tears at the baby shower, or telling your friend you can’t attend? If they are true friends, they will still be there when you are stronger.”
Being on a packed tube and seeing people give up their seats for a woman with a ‘baby on board’ badge
“I will never forget the day I had to give up my seat to a woman with a ‘baby on board badge’ during rush hour. I was on my way to work on a monday morning following the most horrific week. My IVF had failed the week before. My world had come crashing down. I spent most of the week curled up in a ball. I didn’t really eat, or sleep and felt like a shell. I was weak and fragile and wasn’t quite sure how to face the world. But the bills needed paying and so I was forced to peel myself up off the floor and return to work. The rush hour carnage made me feel so small and scared. My body was tender and the slightest touch made me flinch.
To my surprise the seat at the end of the row was empty, so I lept in. I was so exhausted, emotionally drained and still swollen. I sat down, closed my eyes and tried to take myself to a different place. Two minutes later though, I felt a tap on my knee. It was a woman, with a baby on board badge proudly pinned to her coat, asking me if she could have my seat.
I stared at her for a moment, then slowly rose. She smiled at me. As we stood there together, we looked exactly the same, only she was creating a child and I had just lost mine. I wanted to tell her that actually, I needed that chair as much as she did. I wanted to tell her that I might collapse if didn’t get some relief, but instead, I smiled my biggest fake smile and said “of course”. I then had to stand in front of her, with nowhere else to go, as she laid her hands over her pregnant stomach.
That day was one that I will never forget. I still find it very hard when I see those badges. To try and comfort myself I have started to tell myself that these women haven’t had it easy at all and that they have had to go through multiple rounds of ivf to get where they are. I then tell myself that I will be next, and I imagine myself, big and round, proudly wearing my pin and asking people to get up for me. On the days where I don’t have the strength to be positive….I just drive!”
Going to the pub with friends
“This used to be one of my all time favourite things to do with my friends. I would always order a large pinot, then another, and quite possibly another after that. We would lose ourselves in gossip and bond over our hangovers the next day. It was after a couple of years of TTC, that I realised I needed to make some drastic changes to my lifestyle. I joined a gym, ate better and seriously reduced my alcohol intake. However, giving up booze came at a price – my friends. It just wasn’t the same. I would watch them get steadily more plastered as I sipped on my sparkling water, and to be honest, I was bored. The gossip didn’t have the same appeal when heard with sober ears! I felt alienated and was scared I was going to lose my friends forever. I tried swapping my sparkling water for a non alcoholic beer, but who was I kidding..i missed my pinot!
So, instead of trying to make such an awkward situation work, I decided to change the way I hung out with my friends. I found the most amazing coffee shop in the centre of town (way too small for mums and pushchairs!!) and called my friends together. I explained to them that I needed them, I needed their gossip, I needed us, but that I would have to step away from the pub and the endless glasses of pinot for a while. So, instead of going to the pub, we now go out for dinner. I allow myself a glass of wine that I can stretch out across the meal, and with food involved, my friends don’t tend to drink so much either! We have also started going out for coffee instead. I haven’t lost my friends like I feared I would. In fact, I think I am even closer to them, as the lack of booze means I actually remember everything they tell me!!
Remember, booze isn’t the glue that connects your friendship.”
If you find yourself in an awkward situation
Whether it be dinner parties with friends who have children, coffee shops in the morning packed with mummies, use whatever armour you see fit.
You are what matters. You won’t always feel like this, so do what it takes to feel ok.
How do you survive day to day while TTC? How do you stay calm? How do you find the energy to smile for the sake of others? How do you hang out ‘normally’ with friends? We would love to hear from you. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org