For anyone going through the devastation of baby loss or infertility you will understand the mental scars last way longer than the physical ones. The uncertainty when you think you will never have a baby and then even the fear after you do, that it still won’t work out is heartbreaking. I don’t think you can ever underestimate how difficult it is to feel like a failure time after time again with cycles and constantly fear the thing you want so much just won’t happen.
I never had counselling during our treatment, it was offered at our clinic for some free sessions (were we having private treatment) and I always told myself that if our IVF cycle failed I would go and talk to someone. I have had Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in the past and the tools I gained from that experience were so positive and beneficial for me. After we had a successful pregnancy with our son I didn’t feel the need to seek help for all the previous disappointment before Austin arrived. I wonder if maybe I should have addressed at the time some of the sadness I felt.
You really do live week by week, month by month when you are trying to have a baby and ultimately you put your life on hold. I always avoided things that might interfere with me getting pregnant so I didn’t drink, I rarely went out and I ate as healthy as I could. Looking back I underestimated how lovely a night out would have been, to let my hair down and enjoy a few drinks, mentally very good for the soul. Instead of always thinking it was better to stay home, and google every sign and symptom of pregnancy when what I should have being doing was living my life. Very easy to say now I know. It can be very lonely, very isolating and very dangerous for your mental well being.
Now we have suffered two miscarriages back to back my mental health has once again suffered and although my body has always healed quickly after each miscarriage, I am left dealing with the emotional toll that still sits so heavy. The immediate devastation from our second miscarriage hit me harder but the aftermath was easier to heal? I am not sure if that makes sense but it’s almost like my body knew what to the do with the grief. Physically I have recovered and mentally I’ve just learnt to take each day as it comes. A few weeks on and I feel like the fog has lifted and although I feel incredibly sad, my mind is positive. I often wonder if all the disappointment from pain on our five-year journey has almost set me up for this? If I think back to all the failed cycles before we started IVF I didn’t think I could get through that and I did. This gives me confidence in myself. I try to take pleasure in the little things, whether it be a chance to get dressed up or enjoy a dinner with my husband.
The importance of finding your own outlet to grief is an important part of the healing process. For many going public with their sadness is too much and not everyone wants to share their grief on any social media platforms. Private grief can be very consuming and when an early miscarriage occurs most have not announced their pregnancy publicly. With our first pregnancy through IVF, our family and close friends were aware of the process so we didn’t hide the success from those that knew. By 8 weeks pregnant I would say the majority of important people in our lives were told. I never felt superstitious around telling anyone, for me whatever the outcome my baby existed as soon as the two lines popped up on the test. I have never hid our struggles or our successes. I am very happy sharing our journey because that’s how I take comfort, reading about other people’s experiences and knowing that I am not alone?
I’ve always found it harder telling someone about the miscarriage who didn’t know I was pregnant compared to knowing. I found it frustrating to chat normally with people like nothing had happened when inside I was devastated. It’s difficult though, how can people be sensitive to your loss if they don’t know? I have my blog as an amazing outlet to my pain and a great way to off load how I am feeling surrounding my fertility and Motherhood. I am also lucky to have a great family and close friends that I can also cry with, talk to and just generally be. But I feel really passionate about helping people to feel comfortable opening up and discussing their struggles if they want to. We need to have the conversations, the talks, the experiences so that infertility and baby loss isn’t a subject women and men feel isolated from discussing. I will always be honest with myself and when I feel like I need the help to deal with my grief, I will seek it.
For some the pain and grief needs more focus, below are a few organisations and charities that can offer some support.
Tommy’s fund research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth and provide pregnancy health information to parents. They run amazing campaigns and have trained midwives in bereavement support.
Miscarriage Association is a national charity who offer support and information to anyone affected by the loss of a baby in pregnancy.
NHS choices gives information on counselling and other charity and voluntary organisations and how to find a qualified counsellor.
It is never easy to talk about your pain, but being able to reach out and seek help is the first step. For me, it is so comforting to listen and hear other brave experiences and I hope by opening up the dialogue surrounding infertility and baby loss others feel less alone and more hopeful or the future.