When I had my first miscarriage, I did not yet feel so alone. I was reminded quickly and often that a lot of people have miscarriages – that this was common
Doctor V reassured me that “this can happen, but all of my patients have then gone on to have healthy pregnancies”. It was in this loss that several friends shared how before they had their healthy babies, they also experienced a loss. Even though pregnancy loss is common, I still received an outpouring of support from family and friends; from text messages in the evening to flowers at my doorstep when I woke, people found a way to show me that they cared about me and that I was not alone.
When I had my second miscarriage a few months later, Doctor V expressed that while unfortunate, I was just having very bad luck, but “was young and had plenty of time to try again”.
But I did not feel very young; as others were growing their families around me and their kids reached new milestones, I was thrust back to being “unpregnant”, again. This time around, people didn’t share that they had been here as well, because I didn’t know anyone who had experienced two losses. My circumstances were becoming less of an isolated instance, and I was becoming more isolated. Friends still expressed their sympathy, but there were no flowers this time around.
By the time I had my third miscarriage, the baby name I hoped to use had now been used by my neighbour; my first pregnancy was due the month before her baby was born.
I can’t bring myself to say the baby’s name out loud when they walk by, I simply refer to her as “the baby”. This time, I did not share with anyone that I had another loss. I was tired of only having bad news to share and I could feel the exhaustion from my friends in having to provide support for a trauma that they couldn’t fully understand. This time Doctor V said, “This is out of my expertise. You should start looking for a recurrent miscarriage specialist”.
So there I was three pregnancies later, without a doctor to provide answers, without friends who understood what I was going through, and without a baby.
It takes a lot of stamina to provide support to someone going through infertility or recurrent losses, and sadly not all friendships can sustain it. As my friends became mothers while my life remained the same, it felt like everyone I knew had gone off to college and I was stuck repeating senior year of high school.
The next leg of my journey would be into IVF territory, and unlike pregnancy – I knew absolutely no one who had been through this before. Try as they may, unless a person has been through it, they could not possibly understand the daily challenges, trauma, and grief that comes from infertility.
Desperate to find anyone who might be able to relate, I turned to social media, a classic last resort when looking to make connections.
I created the Instagram handle @for_the_barreness where I share tips and resources for dealing with infertility and IVF, humorous memes that only us infertiles could possibly relate to, and updates on my own journey. My hope is that when people find the account they can finally say: “This explains exactly how I feel!”.
The popularity of the account led me to launch For The Barreness, a safe space to connect to others, to share our journeys, and to learn tips along the way. While all of our circumstances are unique, there is always someone out there who can relate, we only need to find them.
The loneliness and isolation of infertility has nothing to do with being physically alone, you could be surrounded by friends and yet you will always have infertility lingering in the back of your mind in the same way that a mom is always thinking about her babies, except no one else in the room shares your thoughts, while all the moms in the room can relate to one another.
Over the course of my journey thus far, I have had three miscarriages, been diagnosed with endometriosis, adenomyosis, a müllerian abnormality, and my AMH has been cut in half from the last year that contained five rounds of IVF and a failed frozen embryo transfer. I have physically struggled and I have become emotionally emaciated. There is a grief that comes with going through this that only others who have truly been here can understand.
Through the connections I have made since launching For the Barreness, and the support I have been able to provide to others (even at times some laughter!), I no longer sit feeling so alone on that infertile island.
By: Meg Faith (@For_the_Barrenes)