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The Childless Mother

Dealing with infertility and finding happiness

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MOVING ON

Surviving The Holidays With Infertility.

It’s almost impossible to get through this time of year without reflecting on the struggle to become parents. Regardless of it taking one year or like in our case 13 years. It’s painful and sometimes you wonder how you will get through it.

I feel that a certain amount of autopilot happens. The first few years I was still optimistic so we would have the “This time next year! Fingers crossed!!” conversations. As the years passed those conversations are less frequent and in truth because I am getting older I think people just don’t want to bring it up. That’s ok by me.

In the early years there really were some awful moments around the holidays where I felt like taking a holiday from interacting with people. So while I absolutely do not claim to be an expert in anyway, this is my guide to surviving The Holidays.

MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PLENTY OF ALCOHOL!

YOU ARE WELCOME. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

HAHA – only kidding. I actually don’t even drink! But use the advice where applicable lol!

Ok, so DAMAGE CONTROL – When I plan my social diary I look at what things would actually be fun and what things may be a fake smile and awkward conversations event. When it’s the latter, if I had to attend the event but I knew it would come with questions or “advice” I wish I had been more assertive, now I have no problem in saying,

“Can we just skip the baby talk” or “No just relaxing doesn’t help my ovaries don’t work”

Failing that a conversation before the event with the right people to say take the topic off the table completely. I have been known to completely ignore the question and change the subject. 😬😬.

I used to be so bothered by what others thought of how I reacted to things that the fact was I over compensated by being too OK with those conversations. Now if I don’t want to talk about it I just won’t. That’s ok to say nope – sorry not today!

If that’s not possible, or when inevitably the wrong things are said. Take a deep breath, smile and then I have a diary that’s full of rants that make me feel so much better – it’s now called my blog 😂😂. Preparing myself with what I may say definitely helps. I’m less likely to ramble or be caught in a day dream of head butting the person who upset me.

BE A LITTLE SELFISH: Putting the rest of the world before yourself – Don’t you find that you do this a lot? Why isn’t it OK to just skip it if you don’t want to do something. You cant do that all the time I know, but how many events do we do that we really wish we didn’t have to. I just sometimes want the two of us in a bubble no reminders of our issues, that’s just what you need to gain strength to continue on. Taking some time just the two of you is perfectly OK.

BE HAPPY: Find the happy in your life – So OK, another year has passed and we still have no baby. But what else has happened in my year that was amazing. I might not be attending nativity’s and school plays, or going on Santa trains but I have awesome days with my husband and fur babies, enjoying the season and there are lots of other fun things to do. Plan some things in that don’t involve “what if we had kids” moments. Even if we do something family orientated I can guarantee Ben and I are the biggest kids there anyway!! Don’t miss the now of it all because you are always thinking about the future. Live it now!!

LAUGH AND LET IT OUT – If it’s a night out (or even in) with friends. An activity that you enjoy. Plan something fun, find something to make you laugh! Find someone you can talk to and rant out the things that may have upset you. Almost like your Infertility sponsor!

HUGS – now I am NOT a hugger. My family and friends will tell you I pretty much avoid it at all costs! But a hug when I am low from my hubby or my Mam is pretty much the best medicine.

BE HONEST – if the thought of an upcoming event is causing you anxiety talk to someone about it. If you have to go at least having someone around you know it’s hard for you will help. Don’t feel like you have to shoulder it alone.

FINALLY BE KIND TO YOURSELF – Do you know how many times I have told myself I am useless, that I am a mess, a failure that my husband could do so much better and should?! That inner voice is a bitch! Instead of letting her say those things now I tell myself. I am a warrior. My heart has been made mince meat and I am still standing. My marriage has endured some of the worse pains you can go through and we are stronger than ever. I put my brave face on everyday some days while in terrible pain and get on with it. We are so strong. That’s what you need to remind yourself every day!!

I know better than most after 13 years of wanting, this time of year will have its hard moments for you. The biggest thing I can share with you all is that I know how you are feeling. You aren’t alone. I know how it feels to be surrounded by people and feel empty and quite alone. It has gotten easier for me over the years. I have learned to cope. I have found a way to be happy again and when I can’t be happy I allow myself to feel sad, to stop trying to fake it as much. I know it may feel like you can’t face it, but look how much strength you have so far. Never loose hope.

One day you just never know ……❤️❤️❤️⭐️⭐️

I hope that you do have the best Christmas that you can. I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year 2018. May all our dreams come true. ❤️🌟❤️

When Does It Get Better?

I put a brave face on a lot of the time.

I pretend I am OK in the hopes that one day I may actually be OK.

The rest of the world can’t stop moving around me just because we can’t have children and I wouldn’t want it to. There are still moments however that sting, that I have to hold my breath and wait for the aching lump in my throat to pass before I can talk. Those moments are getting less frequent but they still hurt. It could be something someone says, an anniversary of a due date, a crazy month of possibility that I have given into the crazy symptom watching and pregnancy test, negative of cause. The following shame that I allowed myself to be swept up in the possibility, in the hope.

Time heals, so they say. First of all who’s they? Second of all “they” haven’t felt grief deeply if they believe this to be true. The passing of time doesn’t heal, we simply learn to live with it. But I do wonder.

Does it get better?

I don’t want to live with this ache, the empty incomplete pain for the rest of my life. I want to be able to move forward and heal. I just don’t think I can do that without trying everything. When we have tried everything if my arms are still empty, I have no idea how to begin to be OK with that.

My life is full of love, this is true. I am blessed in so many ways. I want to be content with this. I want for that to be enough. But still ….. always lurking ….. always waiting, this ache. The feeling that my heart is so broken it can’t be repaired. I don’t want to just “get on with it, just move on” I feel like that’s letting go of my babies. I can’t do that.

This blog, my pages, you beautiful people that take the time to read my rambling thoughts. You are the best thing to come from this pain. To feel that we aren’t alone, that you get it. It helps so much.

I am not ashamed anymore of my body failing me, I feel like we are freaking warriors. Fighting every day to get our family’s. Fighting for that moment that our arms are no longer empty.

Dear Santa….. we need to talk!

Dear Santa,

I have written to you so many times now. The joke has clearly been on us!  I watch as December arrives and the children in our life switch between angelic well behaved beauties to sugar fuelled demons with no inbetween in the sheer anticipation of your arrival. My heart aches for a child of our own.

At this time every year I make a private wish.

“Next year…… please let it be our turn and please, by next year, let us finally be holding our baby.”

I have tried many ways of getting this wish/Christmas request to you, I have written to you, I have burned a letter in an open fire, I have gazed up at those beautiful stars at night and closed my eyes tightly and begged you. I have been on my knees, pleading. Just one child. Let us be lucky to have one child.

It’s been 13 years now I have asked for just one thing. Only resulting in empty arms and brief moments of hope ripped away. Wishing has proved pointless. In reality I know we may only help ourselves. Faith can only take you so far.

I love to read, you know that, you have brought me many books over the years. I long to sit in a nursery cradling our child and reading to them the night before Christmas, to listen to the excited tone of our child’s voice asking for the millionth time when you would get here. To awake on Christmas morning to the sounds of excited whoops and yells.  “He’s been, he’s been!!!”

In the shops I pass aisle’s after aisles of advent calendars, reindeer food for Rudolph and his chums,  Santa treats for you, Xmas eve boxes and so much fun to be had making treats and decorations for your arrival. I have imagined many times my husband and I sat around a table creating the perfect ginger bread house, making our own decorations or taking our little one to a grotto to visit you so you can hear their wish for that Christmas. I would hope a solution to world hunger and poverty but more likely the latest fad toy!

As I sit now quietly writing this letter to you, we are still only a two. Do you know how many tines I am asked as a woman in her thirties by complete strangers

“are your kids excited for Santa?!”

Do you know that mainly I lie?  I tell them “absolutely”!! I do that because I can’t face the look of pity when I say we can’t have children and equally I can NOT face telling them we don’t want them to save their feelings. My mouth will not say those words no matter how much easier that would be, it feels like I am dishonouring our angel babies.

I would just like the festive season to welcome us, to for once feel like a normal couple. To feel less of a failure.  To take part in all the parts of Christmas that are meant for happy families! Because we are a happy family. My heart may be Swiss cheese and I may be often crippled with the grief and loss. But I am happy all the same, we are happy. I am so blessed to have my Husband, he’s really the other half of me.

For that reason this year, I am not asking you to give me a baby. I am working on making my body more healthy and strong to do it myself. Instead I am asking you to look over all of the people out there struggling with this journey this year. Help them to find the happy in their own lives. Help their hearts to heal and when they can’t find that happy, surround them with love and support so they know they are not alone. Can you do that?

Good luck with the big night, and even though we don’t have any children we will still leave you some cookies and milk ……. it’s just in our house you might find the milk is spiked with a little (or a lot of) whiskey 😉😉 .

Merry Christmas and thank you for listending ❤️❤️❄️🎄🎅🏻🎅🏻

 

Walking In My Shoes – The Childless Mother

I know it’s impossible to know what’s going on behind anyone’s smile. People fight battles every day that their nearest and dearest know nothing about. If you are lucky, and I am. You have a support network in your partner, family and friends that will get you through the worst time. Even so it can feel lonely under this label that we stand, I am infertile. Me.

My husband stands with me as a couple we are childless and he suffers the ups and downs every bit as much as I do but the reality is, it’s me.

When a stranger looks at me they know nothing of our struggle to be parents, often when we meet someone new one of the first questions we are asked now we are in our mid-thirties is how many children do we have? My 13 years of training for these questions kicks in and we delicately tell these strangers, none for us we love to travel…..are too selfish…. It just didn’t happen for us. After all the awkward spluttering’s that follow telling the truth are just not worth it.

The world is obsessed with owning who you are at the moment, hundreds of tell all stories often with photographs telling you to be proud of who you are. Go You! I totally agree with this, be who you are and apologise to no one for it. So why can’t I get there myself? Admittedly talking about infertility and our losses is difficult. When I first picked up a pen to write down how I was feeling it was for me, when I openly shared one of the miscarriages we had online I did it because it felt like the only way to get the pain out.

I didn’t realise I was giving a voice to others in pain. My blog was born.

I receive many messages from both people trying to support their friends or family members through a loss or infertility as well as from the couples going through it. There is no one size fits all but there is a common theme to what those people walking in our shoes are saying.

Please, please don’t tell me its ok, don’t tell me things happen for a reason. My time may not come.

I wanted to try to articulate my experience to try and help others to know if they can help or offer comfort, not just with words. Sometimes just by being there. If you haven’t been through this it is hard to understand the ache that comes with wanting a child you can’t have, or finally getting that dream and it being ripped from you.

I wanted to be a mother, I knew that from a young age. Some may say that’s because the world expects it of me. I was born in the 80’s and still very much felt the right thing to do was get married and have children. I didn’t want that in the conventional sense, I wanted to travel, I wanted an equal to do that with but I knew I wanted a family.

I read somewhere that infertility is like the death of a dream. This is perfectly true. I imaged my life with a child, with my husband. This perfect little person that was half me and half the love of my life.

When we first started to try for children, excited and optimistic the picture starts to build in my imagination. You discuss names, nursery ideas, looks, schooling, and family values etc. Pretty soon you have an image in your head of what that little person would be like. For most couples the longing is brief and very quickly they get their bundle of joy and start to live their dream, all be it slightly sleep deprived but what they planned all the same.

For couples like us, over time the dream builds into to a knot in our stomach, a screaming question that neither of you really dares to speak out loud.

“Why isn’t it happening for us?”

It takes time to accept that you may need help, the longing grows and grows and takes route inside. It twists and pulls at your confidence. It whispers lies that make you feel less than, it tells you the worst things you may already be thinking. I’m not good enough to do this, I am failing.

The first steps into your doctor are hard to take, for a woman testing for problems is an intrusive and long process. Starting with blood tests and followed with internals and scans and painful procedures to see if you can indeed carry a child. I remember once someone telling me, be thankful you haven’t had any children yet, you lose all dignity. If she only knew. I probably had to bare my private parts many more times than she ever did to get her children and there was no beautiful reward for me at the end.

For my husband the tests were less intrusive but equally as embarrassing, especially as the specimen room was right next to the break room while nurses discussed their weight watchers soup. Not. Fun.

Finally we were diagnosed. It was me. I had PCOS.

I always knew it was me in some ways it was a relief that I wasn’t crazy, we had the reason but we had no baby either. A glimmer of hope starts to return at this point as you weigh the options up and discuss treatment options. The doctor talks about the next steps and you start to think….. Finally this might happen.

First step for us was Chlomid, an angry hormonal infusion of crazy lady that helps you to ovulate regularly. We were given six cycles and told to baby dance….. a lot.

Infertility is a pain emotionally and I would guess there would be some people that would say, wow lots of sex poor you it sounds awful. Anyone that has struggled to conceive will tell you, eventually it sucks the romance out of it. There is nothing romantic about a frantic race to the finish line, the pressure to get there and then acrobatics to get your hips into the air or maybe even a hand stand because you read somewhere that may help. It’s not pretty and eventually it stops being fun.

I agreed to take part in a study to help others with PCOS so had bloods done regularly. I was convinced that this was going to work I had a feeling. So month one, cycle one, we did everything right. The date of my scheduled monthly was approaching, my crazy brain convinced me I was experiencing every pregnancy symptom going, and I went to the bathroom a 100 times a day just to see if it was game over. I was two days late. Out came the pregnancy test.

I did it alone as at this point I didn’t want to disappoint my husband who kept telling me that he would be happy with or without children he just wanted me.

I sat in the bathroom what felt like an hour with a flashing test, my hands and feet cold with anticipation……. Then -: NOT PREGNANT. Game over for yet another month, almost 6 years of this at this point. The disappointment hits you like a blow to the stomach, fresh tears fill my eyes and I allow myself a brief moment of self-pity. Sadly I am by now a seasoned trier, so I know I must dust myself down and prepare to try again.

On we continued until month five. Month five was different. I didn’t seem to have as many side effects except a feeling of total exhaustion. I put that down to what we were putting ourselves through, we promised to take a break from everything if it didn’t work this month. Again I was waiting with the pregnancy test flashing in my hand, prepared for another negative…. Flash…flash…flash…PREGNANT! I dropped the test, immediately dug out the remaining two under our sink…. PREGNANT….. PREGNANT!! I couldn’t believe it. My heartbeat hammered in my chest, I felt a little dizzy. I sat back on the toilet.

I was terrified, I cried, I wondered how I would tell my husband. We had been here before and it had ended so badly that I decided to wait until my hospital appointment and blood tests. They were all confirmed, I told my husband that night. He was cautious and had a wait and see type attitude which annoyed me at first, but deep down I understood why.

A couple of weeks passed and we were booked in for an early scan, again I decided to go it alone. Looking back now I just think I was nuts but at the time it felt like it was my issue to deal with because it was me that was defective. I was convinced that my period was on her way.

At the scan, they found the sac but no heartbeat. Could be completely normal they said with the timing so they took some blood from me and arranged another scan for a week later. There was no need.

The cramps started through the night a few days later, the bleeding started soon after.

I don’t think I can fully explain the complete emptiness that follows a miscarriage. The helplessness that you feel watching the life leave your body. In the middle of the night while everyone else around me slept. I lay on my bathroom floor in our small home and wept. I remember quietly singing twinkle twinkle little star to myself quietly as I sobbed. As if it would make the passing easier.

The next day, it was confirmed that the baby was no more. My body was doing its job well however. For once. I could go home and rest, they could help me but I didn’t want that. I wanted to do it alone, I think sometimes that was my way of punishing myself. Dealing with that pain.

Once the physical pain is passed, you are left with the “what ifs”. What if I had rested more? What if we had been to the hospital sooner? What if I had eaten differently? What if, What if What it.

The following weeks, I was told “It’s just not your time”, “Its mother’s nature’s way of weeding out the defective” “At least you know you can get pregnant” “At least it was early, it wasn’t a proper baby”

My young and polite head nodded along with these statements, while my heart screamed at them…. “HOW IS THAT HELPFUL!!!” While all well-meaning, I just wanted someone to acknowledge the life I had in me for however brief a moment, to tell me how sorry they were.

Looking back at this one moment, sadly there have been other since, I have come to learn that there isn’t anything anyone can say to make this better. The worst thing to do to me is to make it seem less than, not as bad. My heart was broken, my husband didn’t know what to do and through all of our losses I think sadly he has been overlooked. People feel terrible for you and just don’t know what to say. I want to say to anyone dealing with this now, “I’m so sorry” is enough. That’s it.

A dream of a life we haven’t ever gotten to live has gone with each loss we have experienced. The pain I don’t think will ever go, we just learn to live with it. It’s important to me to find a voice to share my story in the hopes that others never have to feel like I did, less than, a failure, like it was our fault, like we had to make it easier for others so they didn’t feel uncomfortable.

Our rainbow babies will be with us always, they have shaped who we are now. I think we would have made pretty great parents. But I will always grieve the life that we didn’t live too. Maybe one day we may still get that dream, you just never know.

Mother’s Day without a child

Mother’s Day is approaching, with it usually comes a familiar feeling of apprehension and dread.

For weeks before this one day, little reminders pop up more and more frequently. Slowly the shelves in the supermarkets start to fill with chocolates and gifts, to the constant flow of e mails reminding you to cherish the mothers in your life and buy the products they suggest.

It’s a bitter sweet sort of day for me, of cause I want to celebrate my wonderful mother and mother in law who both deserve to be treated on this special day. At the same time, I fight the urge to take to my bed turning off all forms of social media and clutching a bottle of vodka in the hopes I will simply sleep the day away. Bit dramatic?

Sadly, with the many, many ways in which companies can contact you now, there is no escaping the day! I certainly don’t feel the day should be cancelled because mums should absolutely be celebrated. It’s up to me to find a way to get through it!

It can be a distressing day for a lot of people for many reasons, not just those of us struggling to have a family. The day is often spent trying to hold back tears, with a lump in my throat the size of a tennis ball. A lump so bad I often have pain from holding it together. Feeling like the grief will consume me whole. By the end of the day I would be left feeling exhausted.

Deleting the day from my calendar and staying in bed is appealing, but it isn’t real life. I am finally at a point now that I can face these days with at least some kind of composure. Processing the grief of losing my babies and accepting that we would not have children has been a slow and heart-breaking process. To get here I have had to let go of a whole other life I thought I would have.

I started to focus on the things I did have in my life. The things we can do. It’s so easy to let the anger and bitterness take over, to have irrational thoughts about complete strangers. I was becoming someone I didn’t recognise! I tried instead to find something positive to say in my head instead of the instant judgement coming from my grief.

So the “OH my goodness, look at that woman sat on her phone ignoring her child, while her child is rolling around on the floor!”

I change that completely unfair thought to “Wow I love her handbag…her kid is currently emptying out on the floor”

In reality the poor mum has probably had no time to catch up with her friends or Facebook all day and using a rare quiet half hour to do so, normally that’s what I would be thinking but angry irrational Sharron was a BITCH….. who did a lot of tutting and eye rolling and didn’t have great control over her thoughts!

Now the rage seems to be subsiding and my judgy little melt downs are far less frequent, I am hoping that this year I will get to enjoy Mother’s Day again. I will of cause be thinking about my angel babies, I will buy myself a bunch of flowers as sad as that may seem. I will kiss and cuddle my fur babies and be grateful for what I have been blessed with.

For anyone out there struggling like I did so many times, I hope that you have support and love to get you through the day. Know that this childless mother will be sending love to you all!

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