Maybe, Maybe Not

I haven’t been much fun to be around lately.

It all came to a head a few days ago when a work thing was going wrong. My response was rage. Not shouting or throwing things or beating my bed with my fists and feet (as much as I wanted to). Just silent anger, simmering beneath the surface.

Completely throwing off-balance my marriage.

It’s difficult because my ability to cope directly affects my husbands ability to cope. My rage throws him into turmoil, which throws me deeper into turmoil. I have to be the strong one, but it’s really hard to keep two people afloat when you’re struggling on your own.

I know I can’t always be the rock, but I don’t want to be that angry person. I don’t want to be the person who is one thread away from snapping all the time. I grew up in an angry house and I don’t want that for us.

I know why I’m not coping. An upcoming appointment – the make or break one.

Can we make IVF work?

The truth is, I’m leaning towards no, which means I’m very nearly at the end.

We could maybe make it work, with cooperation, with some understanding about freezing sperm in advance. But then I stumbled across the blood test and that’s going to be a very hard brick wall.  We may come unstuck over a blood test.

I know the reality behind it. It’s not the needles he fears but it’s a build up of trauma, bad experiences, feeling powerless, strangers, feeling unsafe, unknown environments. It’s not a blood test it’s Everest. I can understand this but people who don’t live with the effects of mental illness every day can’t fathom it.

And this is more stress added to a stressful situation, because I have to go in every time and defend my husband. He’s a good man, he loves so completely, he would be a good dad. He deserves this. But he’s used to be put to the side because he doesn’t fit in the box and that is what things like World Mental Health Day and all of this inclusiveness doesn’t address. If you can’t go to the Doctor, tough. If you need heavy medication and need to see a psychiatrist, but you physically can’t go because of your mental health, you are stuck. The sickness keeps you sick.

I went off on a tangent, but what I mean to say is, I have to go in there and fight for my husbands medical needs to be accepted as medical needs. Mostly, they don’t seem to be recognised as such.

Not only all that, but additional information about our fertility is looming. My husbands SA – how fertile is he? My AMH, how fertile am I going forward? Worst case scenario, we could walk away with no further options and our hopes of a maybe-someday-miracle-if-we’re-lucky dashed. Its Schrodinger’s Cat: I’m simultaneously living in a world we have options for having kids, and one where we have none. 

It’s no wonder I’m losing the plot!

My husband says that we’ll end up on a lifestyle block with another little dog (my arms ache to carry something) and he’s sure we can be happy together, just us. It’s not so bad. And I nod my head and smile and I want that to be true so badly. I want us to be enough but I don’t know if I can do it.

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The one about… IVF!???

Nothing has changed but everything has changed.

Last week we were driving along and my husband was becoming increasing anxious. He had been internalising some worries about my next appointment because he was concerned that there could be a possibility for more surgery.

I don’t think I’d mentioned anything to him, but I guess he hadn’t quite processed that there was little to no options left for us as it stood.

He’d clearly been mulling over what I’d been told before surgery last year, which was that my options were surgery or IVF. We had already written off IVF as being too much for him and so we went with surgery and he didn’t want to make that same choice again.

He thought we might be choosing IVF or surgery again.

He wanted to choose IVF.

He was telling me that he didn’t want to get 10 or 20 years in the future and be disappointed that we didn’t try.

For four years almost, we have had that as a no-go. Being that my cycles were wonky from the start, I knew we were facing fertility issues off the bat so we had these discussions early. I wanted to shelter him from any guilt so I never pushed or suggested, it’s felt like a long time of us dealing with infertility, but not being able to go through regular processes and treatments.

And so we had our first real discussion of making it work, and actually, we both think we could make this work.

My mind is blown.

I was trying to transition my brain into thinking about moving on, into not being stuck until my menopause years thinking “maybe we’ll get lucky”. I didn’t want to keep living in limbo. But I won’t lie and say that I didn’t wish this the whole time.

I know there seems to be a general idea that if men are resistant to a treatment option, eventually they’ll come around or they’ll feel guilty enough to give in. I don’t want to give that false impression – that eventually all roads lead to IVF. Men are capable of deciding what *they* are willing to go through as well, and that should be respected. Had I not respected my husbands decision all this time, we may never have got to this point. In fact, it would have been severely damaging to our relationship.

In my last post, I mentioned that we moved from saying, “when we have kids” to “if we have kids” – and then finally, to not really mentioning the possibility at all. 

This last week has been different, and it’s so hard to try and keep the hope in check. I mean, it’s good to have hope, but it’s also dangerous to let yourself go there. Not just about IVF outcomes, but also whether we do actually get to the point of gong through with it.

I’m scared of getting my hopes up and us not going through with it. I’m fucking scared of doing IVF and it not working.

I’m also scared after reading my surgery notes and realising that the Adenomyosis suggestion wasn’t just a throwaway “maybe” comment, and how that means IVF is less likely to be successful and increases risks for if I ever did get pregnant again.

So what next?

My appointment next week will be my last with my specialist, either way. But I will organise a SA for my husband and talk through some things. It will be a good test to see how my husband handles the pressure without officially starting down the IVF route.

If he’s still feeling confident, I’ll be making an appointment to get the ball rolling and get us on the public list.

If he’s still feeling confident, we will also look into doing a privately funded round.

What a week!

The One About “Knowing”

I know how you feel.

Someone said that to me the other day. I don’t know them, they’re just a person I spoke to briefly to assure them a clomid symptoms was normal. I spoke to her enough that she thought she knew where I was at.

I’ll admit, I was a bit uncharitable. I just thought, no actually, you have no idea.

Because I remember being in that place. About 18 months in, it was hard. I don’t know if I cried a lot because I was still processing a miscarriage, or if it’s really hard in general at that time, when you realise things have changed and you have a real problem here.

But it was hard in a different way.

It was still “when we have kids” back then.

After 2 years, that was hard too. You are now double the “12 months”. The time when you should start seeing a doctor because of fertility issues has passed twice. You are double as unlucky.

Around that time, after 2 years, it became “if”. If we have kids. If we are so lucky. Still hope, still possibility.

We are nearly 4 years now. I have an appointment coming up and it’s likely to be my last. A last ditch hope that maybe after the surgery and the meds he might have some other thoughts on why I’ve still never had a regular cycle since coming off the pill.

We don’t even say “if” anymore.

We don’t talk about the future with that possibility, it’s too hard. Our plans for the future are for 2 now, even though we desperately wish otherwise.

Me at 18 months-in cried more than me now, but she wouldn’t understand how it feels. 

And I don’t know how it feels to be my friend who has done everything and has come to a new chapter in life she never wanted.

And other people don’t know how it feels to read surgery notes and see “IVF recommended”, and know you can never take that opportunity, even if it’s the one thing standing between you and having kids. Knowing you would do anything, but it’s not up to you alone.

None of us know how it feels, not really. Because we are in this shitty, god-awful situation together but all of our paths are different – even if they intersect sometimes.

I don’t know how well you coped or if it hasn’t been so bad yet or if you’re at the end of your rope. It’s not a matter of how far you went or what procedures you had or if, like me, you’re stuck at the beginning (but it’s also the end). So I won’t say I know how you feel.

I’ll just say, “that’s bullshit”.

The One About Body Image

As many women know, body image is one of those things most of us struggle with. Right or wrong, we often wish things about our bodies were different, and our self worth is tied up in what we see in the mirror.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit lately because my 30th birthday is racing up on me. My hair is getting speckled with greys (thanks mum!), I’m getting lines in my face, my body doesn’t look like it used to. 

I know I’m young, but 30 is a big number for me. I didn’t think I’d still be having children in my 30s, let alone still trying to have one. Me turning 30 also means we are at 4 years trying to conceive, nearly 10years married (all of that time, I would have been happy to have started having children). 30 is the decade when “they” start talking about dropping fertility. 

I know I’m still a healthy weight too, but the weight that has crept on thanks to eating my feelings and feeling overwhelmed is a bit upsetting. Because I wouldn’t mind not having a flat stomach if there was a reason. I wouldn’t mind feeling bloated and uncomfortable if my tum looked 4 months pregnant because it was.

I’m finding it really hard to have a good attitude about my body when my thoughts are often taken up with what my body isn’t doing. It’s so hard finding acceptance in a body that lets you down over and over again.

Not only do I feel like I’m fighting my body each month to conceive, I’m also fighting an army of endometriosis that wants to invade my body. Not just my reproductive organs either, although the that is my main concern currently.  For whatever reason my body has decided to fight itself, to create sickness and pain where there is no reason for it. 
How can I love my body when it seeks to destroy my dreams? When it seeks to cause pain and misery? 

How do I even find the energy to put the care into eating well and starting exercise, when I feel like nothing will change? 

Two Resolutions

I didn’t make any New Years Resolutions this year. I feel like I have a direction and enough focus to not need to get too bogged down.

But it’s now June so maybe I’ll do 2 half year resolutions. These are things I’ve been thinking about and needed to hash out get them firm in my mind. Two things I need to stop doing for my own sanity.

First, I’m going to stop telling myself that “of course I’m happy for them…”

I’m really not. Well, maybe if it was someone I was really close to, but as a general rule I’m not.

I have a large extended family so there are a lot of kids. No, I’m not happy for my cousin, having a 4th baby to a 4th mother. 

No, I’m not happy for a friend who was always competing with me and asked me out of the blue about having kids one day. I knew that meant she was comparing our relationships because they were “ready”… Well I was 18months in with a miscarriage under my belt, so no, I win that one. And I wasn’t happy for her that she was pregnant straight away either.

No, I’m not happy for strangers on the internet.

I wish I could be that person that roots for everyone, that is happy for people because their fertility doesn’t speak to my infertility. But I’m not, and that’s ok too.

I don’t have to guilt myself by saying that I *should* be happy for them, because I can process their news in the best way that works for me – sometimes that may be being happy, and sometimes not.

And secondly, I’m going to stop using parenting as an excuse for shitty friends.

I recently met up with someone for the first time, and their pre-schooler was also there. Nice kid, single mum, no problem. I’m not a kid-hater, so I was pleasant and patient. I asked him questions about his trip and activities, then moved back to mum to ask when they were heading back home.

Mum hears my question, but instead of replying to *me*, turns to the kid and says, “we are going home tomorrow, aren’t we?”. I mean, I thought I asked the question but whatever.

However, this type of exchange lasted the whole visit! I spoke to mum, she spoke to me through her kid. Again, I hadn’t ignored him in the slightest, and often he was busy in his own world eating or drinking and not needing to be engaged.

I left the café and drove home in tears, because I don’t have many friends and this person who wanted to meet with me (and wants to again!) couldn’t even treat me like a valued person. 

I always made the excuse that having and loving their kids was why people couldn’t maintain normal, adult conversations and friendships with non-parents. Their world revolves around their kids and it can be hard to break out from that.

I have now decided that’s bullshit.

Having a conversation with somebody is not hard. Empathy, listening and being social are all things we learn throughout our lives. When we don’t know somebody we talk about the weather or ask them about their job, this is something we have learned.. When somebody isn’t a parent, it is rude to talk about the intricacies of parenting. I don’t mean talking about the kids, I mean nappy changes and feeding and clothing layers. There are many topics where you both parties can join in with the conversation, to hijack conversations to be only about one topic is poor form and selfish.
Ok, how about those for mid-year resolutions. Maybe I’ll do some more in January that are a bit more upbeat!

Unmagical Mother’s Day

I’m not superstitious.

I don’t look for signs that *mean something*. I don’t really believe in special not-quite-coincidences or everything working out perfectly at just the right time, or pinning my hopes on special numbers or dates.

So then why am I getting worked up about Mother’s Day?

One (or half?) a pregnancy in nearly 4 years is an abysmal success rate, why would a cycle ending probably on Mother’s Day be the magic recipe? Just like the cycle that ended on Christmas day wasn’t magic and the cycles that ended every other damn time haven’t been magic either.

So why does my mind play these ridiculous tricks where my subconscious thinks it knows better than what I really know – what my rational brain and experience have shown me?

I’m trying to be ok with this not happening, and  trying to be ok with the world going on around me, but this upcoming Mother’s Day feels hard. Harder than last year which ‘should’ have been my first Mother’s Day, harder than the year before when I ‘should’ have still been pregnant.

Maybe because by all accounts, this year is do or die. This is the last year before we try to close this chapter and move into something else. The last year of still having hope (even if I try to suppress it).

Also, Mother’s Day is a shitty day for your uterus to tell you you’re still not pregnant. Screw you uterus.

Laparoscopy Experience in the NZ public system

I’ve written this post based on notes I took 3 days after my surgery, and now, 8 weeks after and having been given all the information from the procedure/s.

While the process itself is the same, the information I often see regarding surgeries and some other procedures are often from the private system perspective thanks to insurance. I’ve learned that infertility is not for poor people which is a situation I find myself in currently due to some pretty extreme outside forces. Anyway, I thought it would be good to have an account for those using the public health system and looking for experiences.

On the Day:
I went into hospital at 9.30am on the day and was admitted almost immediately. I was given a gown and paper underwear to put on and then sat around for.. around 2hrs. During this time I had blood pressure and heart rate taken, was given panadol and generally just regretted all my life choices which brought me to this place. My blood pressure and heart rate was high which seemed to be a concern, but I feel like I was fairly justified being that someone was about to cut me with a knife.

This was in a shared room within the Day Surgery until. Each cubicle was closed off by curtains, which is good because one person was snotting into the sink, and the other person was waiting for her mum after surgery (when mum turned up, there was a lot of abuse because staff didn’t let her sit in the comfortable chairs in the area for patients waiting to be discharged).

My surgeon came in about 10mins before they took me in  to just reaffirm what the procedure was. Fun fact – my surgeon ended up being the gynae I chose to stop seeing due to his manner, so I was feeling a bit awkward about that! He vaguely recognised me but didn’t stick around. I was surprised to be told they may not do anything! If they looked and decided it was too much work, they would reschedule for another day so the surgery wasn’t too long. I assume this may be to do with having other procedures at the same time and fitting everything in.

I was wheeled to theatre, then in one set of doors while they organised things in the room itself. Here I was given an IV line (successful 2nd attempt, but not sore), and waited around for about 10-15mins. I had a nurse and the anasthesiologst in this area with me, the nurse kindly using such cliched stories and phrases of “I struggled with infertility, but then I just relaxed” and “at least you can get pregnant”.

When they were ready I walked into the room and hopped up on the table where I was covered with a warmed blanket.

Almost immediately they gave me some sort of drug to help with relaxation and the room started moving around a bit. I was still quite anxious but it was like it didn’t fully compute and my body wasn’t responding to my brain signals. The best way I can describe it is that I knew I was anxious but I didn’t care. I didn’t feel trapped by my heavy body not responding. I think they might have put an oxygen mask on me a this point but that is a vague memory and the last thing I can recall.

Post Op
I woke in recovery, and while I felt fairly alert at the time, I don’t remember much now except the nurse telling me they’d call mum and I was on my way to the ward.

Pain wise, I had three lots of panadol that day on the ward (last at 11pm that night), I wasn’t offered any more after that and didn’t feel any need to ask for more. They did ask frequently about pain in case I needed something else so it was purely preference for me.

I first got up about 8.30pm that evening (about 5hrs after getting to the ward), and I did get the shoulder pain that is talked about a lot. It felt like a cramp in my shoulders and was probably the most painful part, but still a lot less than I was expecting. I only had this pain when standing so it was quickly relieved on lying back down. It lasted about 1-2 days.

I was hoping to go home that same day, and pain-wise I would have been fine, but I had quite low blood pressure and I was being given fluid via an IV until quite late that night.

As far as tiredness went, I didn’t get to sleep again until about midnight that night. I then woke up about 4am and was awake until I was at home that afternoon when I had a little nap. I didn’t feel particularly tired or wiped out, and the noises of being somewhere unfamiliar, plus a shared room with an extra visitor who had to be forced out at midnight and was back at 6am made for not a relaxing atmosphere! I’m sure a private room would be an upside to being in a private hospital!

The next day I couldn’t wait to leave, but it was definitely a slow process! I had to pee 3 times after catheter removal, so I drink a copious amount of water to make that happen as quickly as possible. I then sat and waited for about 2 hours while nobody did my paperwork, and in the end (after chasing them up), was discharged without it. It was supposed to be sent out along with a follow up appointment, but that never arrived.

I walked down 3 flights of stairs carrying my things and jumped in the car, ready to escape! I don’t like elevators much so skipped that, and had no problem being on my feet.

Recovery
Mild pain when changing positions for about a week.

I had a “jiggly” tum for a wee bit, like my muscles forgot how to hold everything in place. This only happened when I was moving faster (like quicky crossing the road!)

Bleeding – light for about 2 days.

After about a week I felt fairly normal, by 2 weeks I was completely back to normal.

Incisions had dissolving stitches – I have 4. The lowest one was about 3cm, the ones on each side about 1cm, and the belly button was mostly invisible as it’s in a crease. The belly button one was the only one I ever felt with a pulling sensation sometimes. Any pain was more muscular feeling.

Something I didn’t know about until it happened – first period afterwards was awful! I nearly cried from the cramps, even with pain killers. I tend to take them too late, so make sure you’re on the ball about taking them before the pain kicks in too much.

Results:
I’ve just had my follow up appointment and was surprised to find I had “severe” endometriosis. I knew they had removed some but not the extent of it. This would also explain being in surgery for about double the time expected. Being that I had no over the top pain I assumed it was a little, and I think I probably have a higher pain threshold which can make my assessment of pain inaccurate.

Something that has been mentioned and was in my surgery notes was “almost certainly adenomyosis”. I remember reading Robert Winston’s The Essential Fertility Guide and thinking that I hoped I was never diagnosed with that. It’s harder to diagnose as it needs to be done via biopsy (and they often don’t know *where* to biopsy), but regardless, there is little that can be done to treat it apart from hysterectomy.

I haven’t looked into it much, but I know it lowers the chance of pregnancy and heightens the chance of pregnancy problems like premature labour. It’s something that is playing on my mind but doesn’t really change my reality, which is that I hope my body can play ball, but it has to decide that on its own.

I can’t share any experiences with hysteroscopy or the dye test because I was asleep, so I can only recommend that having them while asleep is excellent 😉  But these both also came back with no problems.

A year is what I’ve been told, the timeframe of what I guess is typical before endometriosis takes over again for many. A year doesn’t seem very long when we’ve been at this multiple of years.

The Doctor was excited, spouting feel-good phrases about “good chances” and being “very optimistic”. I’m happy it’s been done and I’ve turned this stone over, but I also heard this speech 2 years ago when I started clomid. I’m realistic. We have a timeframe.

This is the best chance we’ve got.

The One About Land Rovers

s-l1600I remember back at the beginning, when there was still the excitement.

I looked online at articles with titles like “Cute Ways to Tell Your Husband You’re Pregnant!”.  I’ve never liked those types of public announcements, where posts to social media were supposed to be cute but (IMO) were a little cringey!

I didn’t have the desire to share joy with everyone, but my sentimental husband would have appreciated something meaningful to mark our next big step.

I had a little note pinned to my office wall to remind me of the idea I came up with.  Cut a Land Rover stencil out, create a stenciled image on a onesie.  Wrap, gift.

Joy.

But as time went on, that joy and excitement wavered.

When it happens, will be be excited or scared?

Do we take for granted that our struggle is over and that we will have a baby to fill that piece of clothing?

When the time came, a cute announcement didn’t even cross my mind.  A faint positive isn’t much to get your hopes up on, and then the worry about organising and waiting for blood test results means our excitement was put on hold.

I hadn’t even thought of this again until today.  That piece of paper has long gone off my office wall, I don’t even remember taking it down.

I feel like we have been robbed of so much.

The naivety, the innocence.  When I hear about someone getting pregnant easily with a planned baby, I just can’t fathom it!  You decide to have a baby and then you get pregnant and have the baby?  That is so far beyond my comprehension that it seems like a movie.  You mean, that *actually* happens in real life?

We didn’t purposely do anything sentimental for that pregnancy, we had a couple of weeks of rollercoaster emotions with no chance to settle in one spot.  But my husband had bought an old Land Rover a few days before we got that light pink line, and so I was a little over 4 weeks pregnant when he travelled a few hours to pick it up.

I’d forgotten about that with the chaos and heartache that followed.

But he remembered, telling me some months ago that it’s special to him because of that time, because it marks a memory, even though it’s ended up being a sad one.

Maybe it’s paralleling our life that he’s still restoring that Land Rover almost 2 years later, as we are still also restoring our hearts and working towards our finish.  That he’s spent years stripping it back, pulling it apart and now slowly putting it back again.  I feel like maybe that’s us too, coming to accept what is, trying to find ways around the rust.

Piecing our future back together with the hand we have been dealt.

The One About Lost Friendships

The other night I was reading some sanctimonious bullshit… *ahem* article, entitled Having Children is a Public Good, which was some utter dribble about why everyone should procreate. And if you don’t want to it’s because your parents didn’t love you enough (yes, it does say something along those lines in there).

I ended up clicking through to related articles, the first from a child-free woman talking about the loss of friendships due to friends becoming mothers, and the second (which sparked it) was mothers talking about the loss of friendships due to their friends NOT being mothers.

It’s all a bit messy really, both sides assigning blame, both sides hurt. I can’t speak for everyone, (in one case at least one woman just sounded like a bad friend) but I can speak from my own experience and what I think may be the miscommunication on both sides.  Most of the articles I read talk of the drifting apart but not what gets them to that place so I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve ended up here.

Changes of life circumstances can be hard on others, whether it’s new relationships, kids, divorces.  It forces a re-shuffle of priorities.  Things naturally have to change over time but that doesn’t mean it comes without the grief of losing what was.  I have certainly lost most of my friendships along the way  and not a day goes by when I don’t think about them.  I am obviously coming from the non-mother-but-want-to-be side, and I have had some poor friends who have coloured my thinking, but I hope I’ve been fair in my assumptions.

Here are some things I think would have helped:

Meet Me Halfway

The thing with meeting up with parents, and I’m sure parents will agree with me here: it’s tricky to find the right place.  You don’t want to come to us due to our house with our things around, cupboards to get into, a lack of child friendly entertainment (a childless house is stressful, I’m told!).  So we come to you, or we meet at a place you want to meet – maybe a child friendly cafe so your kids can be loud and can play on the equipment supplied.  Maybe it’s somewhere we wouldn’t pick ourselves but we go there anyway.  Not to mention we are fitting in between your schedule: naps, snacks and nappy changes take priority.

Physically, there isn’t meeting in the middle.  We have to go somewhere that is suitable for both you AND your kids, and you are the one that is going to deem it suitable or unsuitable.

But it would be really great to meet metaphorically half way.

If we are coming to you both where and when suits you, it can feel like we are the entertainment: showing up when you’re bored or need adult company, shooed off when we get in the way of the schedule.

Here are some ideas:

You be the instigator – contact me so we know you want to see ME, not just the first person who shows some interest.

Show that our meet up is important to you too. Have you done some baking?  Invite me to share and I’ll bring the drinks!  Going to the park?  See if I want to come for an impromptu catch up while the kids play. Who would ever say no to a park visit?  Going somewhere for the toddler where they might need your assistance?  We are capable of holding the baby and won’t begrudge being part of your world.

Take Note of Your Audience

With the mum-club entry, your everyday conversations have change.  Brands of nappies and wipes, the next playgroup and toddler milestones are conversations you’re having regularly.

If you start talking about mum-specific conversation topics, you start talking *at me* not with me.  Let’s be honest, you don’t want to hear my opinion on your brand of baby carrier because I haven’t used one.

If we cross over into mum talk, it starts creating a wedge.  It alienates me. You are still your own person, we still have shared past experiences, funny memories and shared interests.  What netflix shows are you watching?  How was the beach? Yes, tell me about your kid chasing seagulls, I won’t bite!  Do you need any relationship support?  Want to vent about a friend?  Here I am!  Ask me how I am! (You would be surprised how often this doesn’t happen).  Yes, talk about your kids, talk about what you’ve been doing and how funny they’ve been, but maybe keep toilet training stories for someone who can commiserate.

I’m Not Judging

If your kid comes up mid-converstation and interrupts me talking, I don’t begrudge them.  I’ll wait, and not in a passive-aggressive way either.  I’ll wait until you have achieved whatever it is you want to, either listening to what they have to say now, or asking them to wait until I have finished.

Is your house full of toys?  Cool!  Hand prints on the glass? I have dog noses instead, what’s the point in cleaning them just to have them get smeared again, right!?

If your place is a proper dirty pig-sty I might judge you on that, but I’m judging your cleanliness, not your parenting 😉

Most of us have been around children plenty, yelling and crying and interruptions do not matter to a good friend.

Don’t Assume Someone Else is Filling a Role

When your titled changed to mother, no doubt your relationships did too.  The person you are in contact with most is probably a mother.  Maybe during the day you commiserate about the baby not being asleep at nap time, you send little messages and snapchats to each other during the day to fill the time and ‘talk’ with adults.

Maybe you think that your childless friend has someone else to talk to now.  Maybe you two drifted apart a bit and you think she’s filled your void with someone else.

But maybe not.

I know in my case this isn’t true, and I can tell you that on top of the hurt of losing friendships, the lasting sting comes from the fact that I’ve lost them because I can’t have the baby I long for.  This is especially true for people with whom I have shared things I’m finding hard.  If it’s not public knowledge, don’t assume that I’m receiving support elsewhere.

Yes, I Do Know Things Have Changed.

In reading these blame filled articles, one of the common themes is, “they don’t understand that my world shifted and my kids are my only priority”.

No, actually I do get it.

In my wildest dreams we have a kid or two, and we spend our weekends doing family things.  My thoughts are of our nuclear family unit and friends don’t factor into it.

But here’s what else I know:

If I don’t ensure that I am an individual person outside of being a mother, I know I would be doing a disservice to myself and my (theoretical) kids.  I would want my children to see me as their mother, who is also a hard worker, a small business owner, a loving wife, an animal lover, a loyal friend.

Is it a lot to bear? Sure, we all have to wear many hats.  But is having friends detrimental to your life or do you actually gain something by sharing your life with trusted friends who are both mothers and non-mothers?

I know if any mothers read this, especially those in the baby toddler stages, they will still argue that I don’t get it.  I’ve read the things, I’ve seen the articles and the rantings and the justifications.  But what I’m telling you is, from the outside it says: you aren’t convenient to me.  You are not worth my time or effort.  I don’t care enough about you. I can only have friendships where people swan after me, for me to pick up and put down whenever I feel.

That is not a real friendship.  It’s really about the love you share with your friends, its about the intimacy of sharing tough things and knowing someone has your back.  It’s about fostering relationships where you can give support, but also receive it back in abundance.  It requires give and take.  I’m not saying your friendships should be to the detriment of your family, I’m saying it can enhance your life, even the ones that take a bit more effort.

I Haven’t Communicated Well

Here are some things I could have said that could have changed the trajectory of my relationships some years ago.  This is a lesson to myself for the future:

“I’d really like to see you soon, let me know when works for you”

“It’s so sunny today, want to meet at the park?  We can feed the ducks?”

“I know you realise your pregnancy/new baby  brings up a lot of feelings for me, ask me over anyway.  I want to be in your life but I’m sorry if I cry”

“I want to make it to your baby shower but it’s a bit much for me. Can we catch up next week instead because it’s not a reflection on how I feel about you and your baby”

“Please don’t try to protect me by excluding me”

But here are the things that have stopped me communicating clearly: I don’t want to be annoying, I feel like you’re too busy and I have been brushed off in the past because of a ‘daily schedule’  clash.

There Are Some Exceptions

A bad friend is a bad friend.  People that tell you they don’t like kids are insulting to you for good reason.

People who don’t give your kids the time of day are bad friends, because if they loved you they would also love those that you love.

Don’t tar all childless or child-free people with the same brush of being anti-parents and anti-children.  Some may be, but many are the total opposite and don’t have kids for their own reasons.

The One About Grief

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We’ve all experienced grief in one form or another. Not many get to adulthood without losing a loved one, and the grief of loss is something we go through over and over again throughout our lives.

It’s a bit rubbish really.

I experienced quite a heavy grief after the death of my grandmother. Partly because I was there as she died, which my family described as “peaceful” but which I would describe as panicked on her behalf and traumatic on mine. While I had experienced loss before, I felt closer to her and at 19, it was more of an adult understanding of loss than a childs. I took it hard and then I moved 6 hours away and started over somewhere new which added to the sense of grief. I think I struggled for about a year before the pain started to fade.

I can’t help but to compare the grief of death to the grief of infertility. I don’t mean about better or worse, which is easier, which I would ‘prefer’. I mean how we process grief while on this terrible process.

Because infertility grief doesn’t have a start or sometimes an end.

Most of the time when we talk about grief, we talk about an event that happens that changes our lives. We talk about the moment when our world crashed and the process of rebuilding our new normal. We talk about how something happened and we learn to deal with it, slowly learning and healing, carrying it with us on our uphill trek to feeling like we’re not crumbling anymore.

With infertility there is no one event. There is no start date. You don’t start to grieve because you’ve been trying for the magic 12 months and haven’t been successful, or because a doctor said you might have trouble or need help. You start to grieve whenever it is you start to feel grief, and that grief intensifies over time.

It builds with each passing cycle, with each scan and procedure. It builds with each doctors visit, each milestone, each loss. It continues to grow and grow, until you are one big ball of grief. There is no ‘new normal’ because you are always in limbo, accumulating more grief, hoping something will happen so the building stops and the processing can begin.

I’ve felt lost in unhappiness for some time. My husband and I talk often about enjoying our *now*, making the most of each day, not wishing time to pass by. But I’m a bit stuck, because I don’t know how to be happy with the now whilst grieving for our future.

My mum went through infertility due to endometriosis but after 3 years she had my older brother (and then two other children without intervention). In the past she has used her story to try and give me hope. Maybe for some it helps. But for me this phrase runs through my head more often than I’d like to admit: “not everybody gets a happy ending”.

On a bad day, this is my message to myself about the lack of hope I feel, about how I feel my unhappiness will last forever.

But on a good day I try to challenge myself on that. I know my options are limited and my chance for my “happy ending” dwindles over time. But if my life is one without biological (or even any) children, I don’t want to doom myself by being smothered by grief and bitterness the rest of my life.

I want to have a happy and fulfilled life, whatever the outcome. I want to stop buying into this pressure that only in becoming a mother can I be fulfilled, feel love and find my worth.

How do I get to this place of acceptance while my direction is unknown? How do I process grief as it continues to build? Can I begin to heal while still in the storm? I don’t have any answers to yet but I hope I’m stumbling along in the right direction.