Have you ever felt like that newbie, that in-betweener, you don’t quite fit in?
Having shared a bit of my struggle to motherhood story a few months ago, I am clear that it was the right thing to do, not only for myself but more than that, for the response I received from other people. It opened the door just a tiny bit further allowing others around me to mention a friend, a sister, a brother or a loved one who is on or who has had a difficult journey of their own. I was struck by the number of people who spoke to me, and the genuine compassion in their eyes and words.
I have since found myself drawn to follow a number of miscarriage and infertility support organisations on social media and I regularly review the press. Here I see so many other men and women sharing their journey, their pains, thoughts and feelings, and reaching out to those who need it most. One of the most striking observations are the rare stories I read from the ‘in-betweeners’, the couples, individuals who feel unsure sharing their stories because they feel they don’t quite ‘fit in’ to any particular group. Being on the edge is always a difficult place and when it’s associated with a difficult topic such as infertility, it makes it all the more awkward, and I guess one of the reasons it isn’t talked about.
Who are the ‘in-betweeners’?
- Those right at the start of their pregnancy journey, filled with so much hope, often unknowing and rightly so, of the challenges some people face but who are beginning to wonder if they have a problem. It’s taking a while, self-doubt begins to creeps in. They feel like they can’t mention it, perhaps even to their partner, as everyone else seems to be conceiving OK, so who wants to hear it? Worrying about nothing right? But so anxious all the same.
- Those who, after coping with the shock and trauma of miscarriage number 1 or 2, are beginning to open up. Perhaps they are beginning to ask for help and realise that they are one of millions, standing at the bottom of a mountain of information. They haven’t started on the IUI, IVF route and are beginning to hear about how many other people are on miscarriage 4/5/6/7. They might be thinking their woes are not as bad, and therefore not worthy of airing. They still hope that none of the acronyms will be needed for them and that they will conceive OK next time….but they are filled with anxiety.
- Those who have newly ‘qualified’ for IUI, after suffering too many losses already. They have belief and are hopeful that, with a little bit of help, it will be OK, but are surrounded by stories of it not working: “we did IUI 3/4 times’, “good luck… it didn’t work for us but you have to do it.”
- Those making new friends in the IVF waiting rooms, again entering as the newbie, already vulnerable to pain, loss both mentally and physically and now facing the gruelling beginning AGAIN.
- Those that have children already but are struggling with conceiving a second, or third and perhaps feeling like they are not allowed to voice their grief, their story, because they have been ‘lucky’ already.
- Those who have now been through IVF to the point of no more, coping with endless grief, loss, and heart ache. Do they now consider being the newbie again in a different scenario, such as adoption/surrogacy or whatever the options are, if any.
- Or those re-presenting, vulnerable and so exposed as the individual/couple that tried but ‘can’t’.
These are just a handful of examples and there are many, many more events, times and situations where it may feel like your story is of no use, no interest. It’s common to feel that others have had it so much harder than you, or that no one will ever understand your grief, your pain, and the torture this has caused you.
What is clear, is that this painful life journey brings up more than you expect. You don’t plan for or anticipate emotions of being the newbie, the ‘in-experienced ones’ and yet you get repeatedly transported back to those feelings of being the new kid in class who doesn’t know the teachers’ names, or have any friends yet, doesn’t know where anything is and has to learn fast. You become totally over-whelmed with information, science, wellness, diet, cycles, and other people’s stories. Often we are not aware of how much from these stories we unconsciously take on and how much they may take from us at a time when every ounce of strength is needed to move forward.
Add in for good measure the insensitivities that society seemingly throws at us daily, such as the perfect family images, the questions on when you are having your family, your next baby, or the assumptions that you are just focussing on your career for now. Plus, the doctors telling you to relax, it will happen, and the endless ADVICE from everyone who feels obliged to HELP you as you are obviously incapable of helping yourselves.
In these times….
It is incredibly important to observe yourself and your needs. You deserve the most sensitive, caring, heartfelt, loving self-care of all. You deserve what you would give to anyone else in difficult times. We are often our own worst critics, we hide from our feelings, we perfect non-attachment to them, we are so hard on ourselves. It is not selfish, weak or self-centred to need to share, to talk or to be quiet. It is not hurtful to need to talk to a stranger rather than your partner, your friends, or family.
Being brave enough to open up and be vulnerable won’t get you pregnant but it will help you keep a bit of YOU. Acknowledging the pain and rawness of your emotions when they are happening, or even after years of hiding them, allows others to acknowledge theirs. Through compassion and kindness to yourselves by sharing your stories, you are opening doors to all those around you to do the same.
Never forget how important you are.
If you want to share your story and are feeling a moment of bravery, go ahead, I am gently listening.