In the last couple of weeks I’ve started announcing that I’m pregnant with my second child. And to explain the 5 year gap between kids, I explain that we’ve been trying for 3 years. This has been met with a number of comments along the lines of, ‘We were lucky. We only had to look at each other and we were pregnant.”
This blog entry is for those of you out there experiencing the exact opposite. This is for those of you who’ve been trying, unsuccessfully, for years to have a subsequent child.
It’s not a ‘how-to fall pregnant guide’ nor is it a ‘10 top tips conceive to baby number 2 (or 3 or 4)’. This entry is an expression of what I learnt over the last 3 painful, long years.
I’m a writer, not a fertility expert – so these words are my own musings and reflections and nothing more. I’m a mother and woman who felt heartbreak with each moon cycle. A woman who has been known to howl on the odd occasion with the unfairness of it all. A business woman whose target market is pregnant women and new mums – and therefore, constantly aware of what I was lacking.
So now that the pain has subsided and I’m finally able to write about the experience, here are my lessons:
- It’s totally fine if you feel like a closet neurotic. Not many of us like to admit that we have obsessive behaviours or neurotic tendencies, but in this trying to conceive game, many of us do. And we’re experts at hiding it. In fact, few people would ever suspect the depths of our obsessiveness. For example, knowing exactly where you are in your cycle at any given time. Scrutinising every breast or hunger pain in the two week wait. Monitoring every morsel of food you eat. Month after month, year after year. It’s exhausting. But it’s OK – it means you care, an awful lot.
- Having one child makes you no less of a mother. The number of children you bear doesn’t equate to any gauge of ‘motherness’. I truly believe that you can be a mother without even bearing any biological or adopted children – I know several women who ‘mother’ without children of their own. Yet, I will admit, that in the midst of my pain, I did question my ‘motherness’ levels. And I’m sharing here in case the idea ever popped into your consciousness too. Don’t listen to it. You are a nurturer, protector, cheerleader, teacher and chief-boo-boo-kisser – and always will be.
- Don’t feel bad if you need to ask for help. In all my other writing around pregnancy and motherhood, a key mantra of mine is ‘It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help.’ Yet I will admit that I shed a few tears on the day I finally rang up a fertility treatment centre asking for an appointment. I felt that I’d let the family down. That all the things that I had tried, on my own, didn’t work. That I wasn’t enough. But I want to share that I felt immense relief when I was sitting in that consultation room with a beautiful and compassionate woman who understood what I was going through. And that she wanted to and could help.
- It’s OK to cry. Every month you hope so much that this will be the month. And then it isn’t. It’s OK to cry and mourn what wasn’t to be. But then wipe away those tears and start being hopeful again – as it’s a new month with new possibilities. Oh and it’s OK to cry at the joyful news of your friends’ pregnancy announcements. I know what it’s like to be immensely happy for someone else and sad for myself. It’s bittersweet and it’s something that I don’t even want to admit. Yet I also know I’m not alone, and you aren’t either.
- It’s not failure if you let go. This is my most recent learning and the most powerful one. We are told that we need to take responsibility for our hopes and dreams. That to achieve and be successful, we need to take action. But after 3 years, I finally understood that I’d tried and tried and tried and tried and the results consistently stayed the same. So the only option I really had was to let it go. To stop focusing on the lack. I stopped going to my fertility sessions. I stopped my gluten, dairy, alcohol and caffeine-free diet. I even gave up my business that concentrated on pregnancy and early motherhood. I let it all go. Then I started focusing on feeling good. Feeling complete as a family of three. Making plans for the future – as now my son was old enough, we could go on those trekking holidays we always talked about. I started eating what I wanted to eat. I did things that I wanted to do. I consciously focused on me, my family and joyful living. And then I conceived. (And now I’m incredibly grateful, but also lamenting the trekking holiday I dreamed of!)
A note: The story of letting go and conceiving is not a new one. At least three girlfriends of mine experienced the same thing. But there is something you must know about letting go. You can’t fake it. You truly must let go, without expectation. You need to be feeling complete and happy with the outcome no matter what happens. Know that, in the letting go, space will open for fulfilment and purpose and whatever that will be, will be.
My journey ahead is now one of excitement and trepidation, but I’ll always carry with me the years of silent pain. And these lessons I gained will hopefully help me in other areas of my life. I hope they provided you with some sense of comfort in your own journey. My parting lesson is that you are not alone. Feel what you need to feel and know that alongside you, a tribe of women are feeling it or have felt it with you. And I send you big hugs and lots of positive energy – you can get through this and you will. Be vulnerable. Be strong. You are a woman and a mother and you are enough.
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