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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

Introduction

For many years I have found writing to be a therapeutic tool. When I tried to process some of the most dark moments of my life putting pen to paper seemed to help in the way a pensieve does in the Harry Potter books. Carefully pulling the threads of dark thoughts and heart break out of my busy head and keeping them safe between the pages of my diaries. Blogging seemed like a natural progression from diary to internet.

I am by no means a professional writer and in truth a lot of what I have done was for me, that was until I started to share the story of our losing our babies. So many other women have since reached out to me that I finally feel like the last 12 years of heart break may have some meaning. I decided to separate my blogs and create one for our journey to become parents.

I hope you will find some comfort from our stories, I will share with you various stages of our journey as well as ways in which I have dealt with those awkward family moments.

To start this site I will give you a summary of who I am. I am 36 and I have been with my husband for nearly 14 years. I have PCOS and we have suffered multiple losses at very early stages of pregnancy. My life over the last 12 years has been consumed with baby making, I have felt broken and useless and totally alone. I have only recently started to pull myself together and acknowledge a future without children.

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Childless at Christmas ….. I’m broken.

I try really hard to carry on and don’t let the scars show but sometimes it’s hard.

I always find Christmas difficult although I absolutely love this time of year it’s bitter sweet. The reality of dealing with infertility has meant for me that I have built and armour around my heart. I tell myself I’m ok and to not think too much about the what ifs.

I do well at this normally.

Just now I’m failing miserably.

As my husband and I sat in our cosy little living room the other night, he was watching the tea time game shows he loves so much and shouting the answers (mainly right) at the TV like the contestant might hear him and I sat doing a 5D diamond art, I felt an over whelming sense of grief and loss. I don’t know what sparked it or why it flooded me with sadness but it did.

My mind wandered to what we may be doing as a family with children, certainly not what we were actually doing. Perhaps we would be doing homework or bath time and stories. Perhaps we would be colouring in with them or praying for a moments peace to be doing exactly what we were actually were doing having “me time” while they ran rampaged around the house. Maybe we would be watching a christmas movie together as we hung the decorations. ……. I can’t even continue to finish this line of thought in blog form. It hurts too much.

I bury those thoughts so deep that when they escape and I let my self wonder, I feel the crack in my amour and I cling on so tight to the tears that threaten. Not just the silent tears I have so often cried but the body wracking sobs that I hold in. I hold them so tight my head and throat ache from them.

It was made worse by reading a news article of a little baby around a month old murdered by his mother and step father while they were high. I’m completely broken by that little boy. The life he could have had if he was only born to someone like us that would have protected him, kept him safe, loved him. I don’t understand how the world is so cruel.

People often say that they can’t imagine how it feels to be going though what we and others like us have. I think the feeling is a simple one. To step back just for a few moments of your busy life, to look at your beautiful children doing what they are doing good and maybe the tear your hair out moments too. Now imagine what your life would be if they were never there.

I know some may glamourise our life, that we don’t know tired. We don’t know worry. We can just do what we want when we want but the fact is I would do anything to have my life turned upside down. No ones life is perfect. I know if we had kids we wouldn’t find it easy. It’s bloody hard. But nothing worth having is easy. I want so badly to know.

To hold a child that’s a little of me and my crazy family and part my husband and his family. It’s so sad that we may never know.

I know I’ll be ok. I will find a way of pulling my amour back into place and continue, after so long it becomes the norm for me. Still, every now and then, I do wonder just how it would feel to be complete. To have this hole in my heart repaired. I think that would be a relief.

We are a team. Thank you to my husband.

When we start to look for the positives and life plan b of it all the one thing I remain so thankful for is my husband.

Sometimes I think this infertility thing is harder on him, especially the pregnancies we have lost. The physical pain is with me, so that meant people asked me how I was doing not many really did Ben. He didn’t know how to deal with the loss of our babies any more than I did but somehow I think a lot of people expected him to just get on with it.

I think feeling helpless to make things any better for me. To not know what to do and then process how he was feeling himself is a lot. He couldn’t fix any of it, but him being there was enough for me.

He’s held my hand through my very lowest moments. He has pretty much held the pieces of me together when I have completely fallen apart. We have rebuilt together, often he says nothing about his own struggle.

There’s a lot of focus on mental health now and not using such terms as “Man up!” I am so incredibly pleased these conversations happen. It’s important for people to know they aren’t alone and it’s not a weakness to need help. You wouldn’t ask someone to mend a broken leg by “smiling more!”

Perhaps the infertility issues is still a delicate one to talk about between anyone but it seems especially so for men, certainly the idea of masculinity being linked to sperm count seems ridiculers to me but I get it. I myself have questioned my womanhood being linked to giving birth to a child.

There are probably men out there not sure how to deal with this journey and perhaps thinking they are saying the wrong thing at times. Frustrated that they can’t do more.

I’ve heard conversations of “that poor girl” after a miscarriage but rarely do I hear “that poor man”.

I’m so thankful that we have a good marriage, we are a team. He’s my best friend. At times we want to kill each other but who doesn’t after 15 years together?! After every set back and heartache we dust ourselves down and get back up. We try again.

My single biggest regret from all of this isn’t that I won’t be a mother. That makes me sad of cause, but it’s that he won’t be a father. He doubts if it’s for him even now, but I know for sure he would be the best dad.

He has such a big heart, he’s so kind. He’s a hard worker, we both have worked so hard for the things we have. Mainly because we want to travel πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. I wouldn’t choose a different life even if I could, if it meant doing it with out him, no thank you.

I will always look forward to a future with him, no matter what it brings. Life doesn’t always go to plan. But we are finding a way of making the plan work for us and that’s a a start right?

The Childless Mother at Christmas

One of my first blogs. Happy 2 year anniversary Childless Mother Blog ❀️

The Childless Mother

I am mother, I am simply a mother without a child. I have all the Mumma bear instincts and skills, I am ready to go, to create a home, to love and protect my family above anything else.

From a very young age I knew I wanted a big family, I loved my dolls, carefully wrapping them in woolen blankets and kissing their little heads goodnight, I imagined what my children would look like. That’s how long I have been preparing to be a mother.

It simply was not meant to be. Sometimes, there are things that no amount of love and hope can cure.

Every year, when the nights draw in and the twinkle lights start to appear in homes like happy little dancing fairies, my thoughts often turn somber and the little ache that has been present over the year, just seems to sting a little more at…

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Sometimes I just get so angry!!

It’s fair to say over the years I have felt the full spectrum of human emotions while trying for children.

As we are 15 years in some of them have mellowed over time others still burn brightly.

I want to say.

“It’s what life has planned for you embrace it and don’t be bitter.”

But then my inner bitch is also screaming like a three year old having a tantrum.

“ITS JUST NOT F-ING FAIR!!!”

I don’t have control over that feeling. It comes out sometimes in random burst of rage. The injustice of not being able to be a mum and the loss of our babies burns bright and bitter.

Sometimes the need to hold just one of our babies hurts so badly I want to scream. My heart aches and while most of the time I can put a smiling front on it, only mainly sharing my pain on these pages and focus on the other wonderful things in my life, I have come to accept that I may always feel this anger too.

I look around me at so many beautiful pictures of new families, of new babies and I feel a warm happiness for them but selfishly long to know what that feels like. To bring home that new baby and experience that happy exhausted moments. To watch as my husband sleeps with our child safely on his chest as our family come to meet the new arrival.

People will say to let anger go that it’s no good, I don’t agree for me sometimes my anger is all that’s got me through a day, because if I didn’t feel that raw white rage then I would feel the alternative which is the very deep sorrow.

I never would have thought I would be a bitter person. I am always glass half full. I am working hard to not let the grief turn my heart to stone just so I don’t feel anything. I wish I was ok with that but I am not. So a compromise is letting the anger out sometimes. Accepting that it’s ok that I feel that way.

If you have anyone in your life that doesn’t understand this then you often have to be a little selfish sometimes. You just have to understand why you feel that way not others.

One thing that sets the anger off is seeing so many people on my pages hurting because they are being pressured to go to family baby events.

I see a lot of messages and comments from our community of people frustrated because family members, friends and sometimes even their partners don’t understand why they are angry or maybe don’t feel like they can face events.

I will repeatedly say it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to make sure we are happy and ok but really is it so bad if your friend/ family member doesn’t come to a baby shower/ event? Because they literally want to crawl into their bed and cry?

People will say … “can’t they just be happy for us? It’s not our fault they can’t have kids!” – actually a comment someone made to one of our community.

Here’s the thing, no, no it’s not your fault but by saying this you are suggesting it’s theirs. IT ISN’T. From the moment you announced your pregnancy that person would be very happy for you but equally sad for themselves and wondering how they will make it through the next 9 months and beyond trying to be a good friend to you while dealing with the crippling grief of wanting so badly what you have.

They will fake it a good deal of the time. Why would you want someone to force them self into a situation where the event is literally all about the very thing they can not have and to do that for you to make you feel more comfortable and happy. Yes you may only have one baby shower etc but I guarantee you most of the other people in your life are running and jumping for joy at your new arrival. It’s a wonderful and happy time for you and those close to you. Enjoy it. That one couple loves you and your baby but they are struggling.

I didn’t want anyone to feel bad for me although I understand why they did, I want them to enjoy their happy time. It sucks that sometimes I can’t embrace it completely with them but neither side should feel bad and for that. No one has made a choice for us to not be able to have kids, it’s medical. We are all just dealing with it the best we can.

A rather crude analogy someone said to me recently

– you wouldn’t expect a diabetic to eat a chocolate Birthday cake to show they celebrated your Birthday – so why do we ask couples with a medical condition that’s ripping their hearts out to endure events baby centred so that they don’t make the new parents feel bad.

We can be happy for you and support you in other ways that don’t involve me playing party games and changing a nappy on a doll blind folded while everyone talks baby’s. Can you understand how awful that is for us to sit through? In reverse I wouldn’t want anyone to do that for me if it hurt them so badly. Your friend that just lost her baby, that just had a failed round of IVF, that has been trying and trying with no result, she is basically trying to hold her shit together and not let the hurt and grief and anger out. I don’t think it’s so much to understand that pain and say,

“I know you love me and my baby, but it’s ok for you not to do this! I understand!”

Give them a choice.

It’s a lonely label to be under and yes hard sometimes to understand if you haven’t been there. People are awkward and don’t know how to talk about it. It’s actually ok to admit that.

I’m lucky I am surrounded by people that do get it and are hurting for me. I think if we ever do get pregnant and progress to having a child it will be celebrated as a king or queen. Somehow that knowledge makes the rage build πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Lol.

Or maybe I’m just an angry person now. My battle scars leak rage. I’ll accept that for my sanity.

Am I a Real Woman?

I read an article today about women who are childless or childfree whatever your preferred term. Some by choice, some like me that can’t have children.

A repeated theme through the article was that they were made to feel like they were defective, less than, not as important even selfish.

Some of the comments on the news feed directed to those who are childless by choice seemed to be as harsh. It really upset me.

Being a mother, while a wonderful thing to be, it does not define you as a woman. I would like to think that if we had children I would still keep my identity, keep some of myself that I would share with my offspring.

It feels like some of the people on the feed suggested that those couples are selfish. REALLY? Why does having a solid belief that you are not meant to be a parent make you selfish? Surely having a child you don’t want, just to fit in with what others think you should be doing is more crazy?!

Others stated that they “felt sorry” for those people missing out on that sort of love, like our lives are so empty without it. Don’t get me wrong. I feel emptiness from the losses of our babies and I can imagine the happy feeling of holding our child but is my life empty? No it’s not.

When you have time to mull over the choice for starting a family you do question why do I want this? Why did I want a baby so badly so young?

You all know from previous blogs I wanted this from a young age. I can’t ever remember not wanting to be a mum. I wanted it so badly. But I look back now and I do wonder how much of that is by suggestion. It’s what people did. They get married. They have kids. That’s just what you do, it’s the plan most follow.

I would have done it young too if I had been able to. Then I reflect on the things we have done over the last 15 years that we would perhaps not been able to do with children and I wonder if that would have been the right choice. I don’t think it would have been. Now as I look back, I am so pleased that we have had time together to build our team and while the heartbreak of the losses I wouldn’t ever want to relive that, I do feel grateful that we didn’t get pregnant within the first two years of our relationship at 23. I feel like now that would have been the wrong choice for us. I wasn’t mentally old enough for that. I would have done it and managed like so many do but I wouldn’t have done it as well as other do.

Like my best friend in the world for example, she has four Beauties and her first when she was 20. She was instantly a wonderful mum, like a switch flipped. She wanted her babies they were planned. Her life has been wonderful in different ways to mine, and I’m blessed that I share with her some of the moments with her kids. I don’t think I would have been as good as her. I love those kids though and my other nieces from my husbands brother very much. They are all perfect.

This journey has a nasty and surprising side effect. Bitterness. It eats at you and I have to work really hard to not let it take over my heart. I can imagine it would if I let it. Resentful of anyone that announces a pregnancy. I feel jealousy of cause, I let myself feel that but I try to recount the blessings to keep the bitterness out.

My husband. Our marriage. Our team. Team Phillips. Our travels. Our love.

The worlds full of beautiful different family units now. There is no one size fits all. I don’t need to have carried a child to affirm my womanhood. We aren’t less than. Our opinions matter, we don’t have to have given birth to know right from wrong or to understand parenting. One of the most hurtful things you can say to me would be “you don’t know because you haven’t had kids”

It’s not rocket science. I know myself well enough to know what sort of parent I would be. Do I know how hard it is? Not fully no, how could I? But I’m not clueless. Like many childless couples we probably think we know more than we do until we actually had children and it all goes out the window. But I see all around me how people are with their kids. My opinions still matter.

We feel sometimes out of place, like we don’t quite fit in any box anymore. We are the last couple of our friends that don’t have children. I think sometimes that people can push couples like us away because we don’t fit in anymore. I have come to terms with this over the years of trying to fake the parties and events with kids and other parents, the awkward silence or uncomfortable comments when you say at 38 you don’t have kids.

Sometimes you have to be a little selfish. I hold my hands up to that. But you know what, when you have experienced the losses we have and felt the pain we have, I think you would understand we deserve to be that sometimes. We have often comforted others through our infertility making them feel bad, I don’t do that anymore. That’s not our responsibility just as it isn’t theirs either. It is what it is. People either understand or they don’t.

Fifteen years in and I know for sure. I’m just as much of a woman as any mother, I’m not defective. This is something I’m learning to live with. It’s not what we planned but it’s not all doom and gloom!

Handling Random Bursts of Sadness

This morning, for no reason, I woke crying. It’s possible that I dreamt about something that I don’t remember I don’t know but I think it is just a random burst of sadness.

I call it this because I do so well making an effort to be happy that sometimes the sad bubbles up and leaks out. I don’t know why it does that either.

Those blissful moments between awake and asleep usually protect me from how I’m really feeling. I forget we lost Gavin, I forget it’s nearly his 30th Birthday and how angry I am he’s not here thanks to cancer, I forget I’m not a mum and how hard we have been trying. In those blissful seconds I’m just content.

Most mornings that’s ok. I get up and the bad stuff slips in a little at a time. In manageable lumps in time I am used to.

This morning random burst of sadness before I’d even opened my eyes. Brick load dumped on me.

My monthly’s on the way so hormones are all over the place but really. I am not able to have kids so why am I being tortured every month with that?! Not fair!!

I had such a lovely day yesterday and the day before for my birthday and then with our nieces and family. Maybe it’s Birthday Blues πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ.

I wonder how many of us cry the silent tears I do while everyone else sleeps? By the time it gets light I will have pulled myself together like this didn’t happen. But for now I’m sharing it with you so I’m not alone. ❀️

Mental health day

So it’s World Mental Health Day. I didn’t want to let it pass without acknowledging the pain I know a lot of us are in and the battle we fight that perhaps no one knows about in our “real life” and maybe we don’t even know the effects that it can have on our mental health.

Having problems getting the family we crave can take its toll. The “this is our month” can only go so far when you are repeatedly slapped down each month. Accepting there is a problem at all takes courage to then continue and find a way to keep going or worse to decide to call it a day and accept life childfree is hard when having a child has been your dream.

I tried for years to put my brave face on and keep going but it did get to the point where I couldn’t hold on to it any longer and it seeped out. Anger was the emotion of choice for me. I was raging at everything and then I crashed and was so low. What was my purpose now? How did I live the life happening around me when I dreamed and wanted a different version so badly.

I wouldn’t ever say I had suffered from depression or anxiety before. I have people close to me that do so I know how it can take over your life, but not me I thought I had it all under control. Lol.

I did not. And admitting that was difficult for me. I was always the glass half full type of person. I would be the one pulling people around me up, motivating who I could. I didn’t realise just how badly I was dealing with everything.

There is nothing wrong with admitting you need help. It might be that those people close to you in your life don’t know you are struggling, but believe me they would want to if you could find the words. Even if you can’t do that, maybe find support through your doctors. Don’t try to do it alone. The little voices that are telling us we are defective and in my case worthless. They are wrong .

I’m doing a lot better now after some drastic changes in my life. I am not saying we all need to do that but it started with me being kinder to myself. To admit that it’s a pretty shitty hand we have been dealt and it’s ok to feel angry about that. I’m not OK all the time. I still feel sad. But I no longer feel like I’m worthless. That’s got to be progress right?

Birthday Blues …. getting older and still no baby!

On the 19th of this month it’s my 38th birthday.

Well …..FUCK!!!

Birthdays after 30 have been mentally difficult for me because the world tells you your fertility decreases rapidly after this time. Now here I am nearly 40 and still no baby and honestly I just want to not give a shit anymore.

Sorry this ones a bit sweary lol. Just the way I’m feeling.

I wanted to make a big deal of this birthday to take my mind off all the ones before it I had tried to ignore. The passing of time is painful.

I was fine, but then the last couple of days I just feel that anxiety again. That feeling of being on the verge of tears constantly. I’m fighting the urge to take to my bed and not get back up. I won’t of cause. If I start to do that then it will only get worse.

I’m going to try really hard to celebrate it. As we all should. Not everyone is afforded the luxury of another year, each year you grow older is a blessing.

It may seem silly. What’s the difference one day to the next. It’s not like in reality my eggs just suddenly dry up a little more the next day another year passes. Even sillier is that mine aren’t that great in the first place so age is only one factor.

I’m so close to acceptance. No children for us. I can feel it. But then something will happen to knock me back.

A random middle of the night thought of what will my later years look like. If I’m lucky enough to reach old age, will we be lonely? Who will come to visit us at Christmas and random Sundays? My brain is a torture device I’m sure of it.

So instead of enjoying the moments and the now of it all. Here I am worrying about a future I don’t even know will happen. I frustrate myself!!

So this year. I will take the weekend. Because it’s a Friday this year so of cause you get the whole weekend to celebrate!! I’m going to hope as always the Birthday Fairy knocks me up or leaves enough money so we can keep trying πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ.

Bloody 38!!! How did that happen ?!

I hate you pregnancy test!!!

I would think that over the last 15 years I am at this point keeping these pregnancy and OPK test companies in business.

It starts with the excited buy in the early stages of trying. The optimist in me would buy the expensive brands and in bulk. They would sit proudly on my bathroom cabinets like a promise of the future we wanted. I couldn’t wait to test.

With each passing month the affection for these tests and that promised future, they started to take on a cruel light. As the fertility testing starts and the scheduled sex, the waiting to take the next test is torturous.

Then you get within a few days of aunt flows arrival and try it early because you never know and I can’t wait any longer …..

Flashing ….. flashing…… flashing…….

Listening to my heartbeat in my ears from anticipation.

Waiting….. waiting……. waiting…….

Hands and feet cold with fear. And then…..

Negative. Negative. NOT PREGNANT.

Feeling nothing for a few moments, almost a resigned “I knew it would be negative” followed by overwhelming sadness. Another month gone and no baby. Sitting cradling the cruel test, hoping the answer would change. Maybe it was too early??

The following few days until aunt flow arrives a small glimmer of hope remains symptom watching and googling “early signs of pregnancy” like a crazy person. Convincing my cray-cray brain that I am indeed peeing more (I Wasnt) or that my boobs did indeed hurt (they did but they do every month) that those cramps must be implanting cramps (they were not. They were period cramps.) That usually ends with me in a bathroom somewhere silently crying after another failed month.

It takes strength to pull yourself up and dust yourself down and go in for another round. Hopes a cruel bitch.

At this point it feels like the only option is IVF for us. In recent years I haven’t bought any tests. One, because I hate them and two because if I get pregnant then I will know at some point! What’s the point of the repeated torture.

In some ways I am probably delaying the last little bit of weight I have to loose because if we do the IVF then there is a chance I have to look at another negative pregnancy test. I know most people won’t understand that but anyone in our shoes will.

It may seem slightly kooky but I would like a ceremonial burning of everyone I have ever had to take along with the OPKs.

I imagine how it would have been to have simply gotten pregnant and not needing all these tests.

To not know what the anxiety of the two week wait feels like.

To have not experienced the crushing disappointment of each passing month, or worst of all those rare tests that were in fact positive but then ended in bitter loss all the same.

Can you imagine that. All those years waiting. To finally see that PREGNANT only to feel that life leave you. That dream leave. My heart to just break.

So yep. I hate those damn tests. I will avoid that aisle at the supermarket, but if one day on the news you hear of a woman smashing up the pregnancy test alley at a North East supermarket. You can bet your arse it’s me. Harley Quinning the shit out of those smug blue boxes.

I’m not bitter of cause. Not at all πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚. Lol.

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