You are not alone
Updated: Oct 12, 2020
I am launching my book this week, in time for Baby Loss Awareness Week. It’s the week I use as a memorial for my 7 babies, since I lost them throughout the year and none was far enough along to get any kind of service.
Its taken me such a long time to get to the point of it being ready. The book went through several draft versions before I was happy with it. I think part of the process for me was that of acceptance. I needed to feel comfortable enough to expose my story, a story which for so long had filled me with shame and remorse for what I felt I should have done differently. Even though in hindsight, I had done everything in my power. That in itself is a journey of letting go, accepting that it was out of your hands.
I started writing a diary for my child, when I was planning single motherhood. I found myself single again at the age of 29, and after a few years of online dating and going on many, many, many, many disastrous dates, I accepted that I was going to need to pursue motherhood alone. At the time I was the only person I knew who not only was considering single motherhood, on purpose, but I didn’t yet know anyone who had been through IVF. I had nowhere to turn.
I researched adoption and IVF using donor sperm. I really wanted to have the full motherhood experience and have my own child. I read psychological studies, books and accounts by other mums and donor conceived children. I kept a record of every article I came across regarding fertility. A lot of them assumed that a woman my age who had waited so long was careless at best, selfish at worst. They hurt! I had not put my career or my life first. I had been wanting children for years. I had tried for years to positively change my circumstances. I put all these articles into this diary, alongside my thoughts of what I had read, usually including desperately demoralising statistics for my remaining fertility. I hoped that when reading this diary, my child would understand my decision to go it alone.
As I went through IVF with a donor and then found my boyfriend and we started our own journey to parenthood, I carried on writing the diary. Even though I now had a partner, my childlessness was a weight on me which my partner didn’t share. I felt with every cell in my body that motherhood was where I should be and I felt so entirely alone in my pain. He very much wanted to be a dad, but did not have the same sense of failure and judgement as I did around not having children.
With each passing year, I found myself struggling more with my grief over my childlessness, and although I knew I wasn’t the only one, I still felt so totally alone and invisible with this pain. Every time I lost a baby I felt more and more separated from society, even from family and friends. I couldn’t find anyone who’d been through the same. When I found other stories of infertility, there seemed to always be a happy ending which I couldn’t relate to. Or a woman had lost babies but already had a child, therefore she wasn’t grieving childlessness alongside the death of a baby, so again there was a connection in one element, which was sometimes just the boost I needed to see me through that day, but I didn’t feel I could fully relate. I decided that my diary should become a book, for others in the same boat, so that no one would feel as lonely as I had.
I think I was driven to provide support, because I have been there, when there is no obvious path out of the darkness. I didn’t want what had happened to me to have been for nothing. I went through a lot of loss and wanted it to at least have a purpose, not disappear in the mists of time as just another sad tale. I wanted things to change. I wanted attitudes to change. I wanted others to feel heard and understood. I wanted those who were dismissive about the pain of childlessness and baby loss, including those in the medical profession who were meant to be there to support mothers going through this, to see what it felt like from the other side, to understand what their patients are going through. And, its only recently dawned on me, but I wanted to give my babies a legacy they will never have through living, but perhaps their death could lead to a positive change. One of kindness and of love, for anyone struggling with the hand they’ve been dealt.
I am so glad to be out of the pit I once found myself in. I no longer have the same sense of being alone. I feel that I am once again a visible, active member of society. I suspect its because of where I am with my grief. I have worked hard to accept my story. The loneliness was part of my grief. Now I feel it is my duty to reach back and help others climb out of the pit. This is also why I started the blog. There are several different parts to my journey, not everyone may want to know or be interested in all of it, its ranged from unwanted singleness; childlessness and my status in society, Endometriosis, IVF alone with donor sperm, natural pregnancy and IVF with a partner, recurrent miscarriages, grief and now adoption. The blog is more of a dip-in for elements you may want to know, share or understand.
It took me a long time to think that my story is worthy of telling, I’m the person who always responds “I’m fine” when asked how I am, regardless, so that people quickly move on and don’t make a fuss around me. I was very bad at asking for or seeking help and I know that I am not alone in that. Others like me, who don’t know where to turn or potentially don’t have the energy to reach out, need people who have lived through it to turn around and share, to give hope and encouragement. Knowing you are not the only one feels so great. Everyone needs to find their tribe. Not that you would wish infertility or any kind of adversity on anyone, but there is nothing like the comfort of finding a story you can relate to. Of not feeling so alone in your very personal pain. My book is the book I wish I had found. I hope that the people who need to read it, do find it.
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