I actually intended to post this a while ago but chickened out a bunch of times. I feel vulnerable sharing this part of my life but I know that if I can make someone out there feel less alone in their struggles with fertility, it would be personally worth feeling totally exposed. I turn to Brené Brown for encouragement, “vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.” ❤️
For the last 8 or so years, my husband and I have been “trying” to conceive on and off. In the last few years we’ve had countless IUI and IVF treatments, all with negative results 😓 I honestly thought IVF would be the answer but even that has been failing, so it’s coming to a point where I’m making peace with the fact that becoming a mother may never happen for me. It’s been a tough pill to swallow and I know I’ve been a shadow of myself for god knows how long now. I’m really grateful for friends and even clients who have shown me kindness and compassion 🙈
I can’t explain to you how incredibly draining it’s been emotionally, mentally and physically over the years – it kind of makes you feel less of a woman and somewhat broken as a human 👎👎👎 I had this picture in my mind of the future: holding my own child, them playing with their older fur-brother Charlie, our little family living happily in the hills … but I need to let go of all of it and the desire to control the future (as gracefully as I can 😌). I think this will give me room to focus on the amazing things I do have, find joy in life and regain my sense of self-worth 👍👍👍
This is why it was serendipitous that my client Bettina and her book cover project came into my life earlier in the year, when I was feeling pretty much at my worst.
She wrote her book “Watering the Flowers” as a gentle guide to finding healing and hope after losing a baby. She shares her story of experiencing multiple miscarriages and I’m not going to lie, it was so devastating to read ☹️ It’s the horrible reality though for many women, it makes me recognise that my own situation has a silver lining – I have never had an embryo stick so I’ve never progressed into pregnancy, which has meant no miscarriages. I think a miscarriage is a more heartbreaking experience to go through than my own, by far 🖤
For you ladies out there going through fertility struggles, please know that you’re not alone. My heart goes out to you. There are so many of us who are in the same sh*tty boat as you are and can understand your pain 💔 I am here if you need a shoulder, please feel free to email/DM me, you have someone to reach out to 🤚
Bettina’s book gave me a bit of light in the darkness 🕯️ She actually asked me to share my story in her book and at first I was hesitant, but the more I thought about how Bettina’s story gave me a sense of solace, maybe I could be brave and do the same for someone else ❤️ Maybe it could even be cathartic✨
Healing takes time but regardless of what you’ve been handed in life, you can live a full and happy life if you choose to think and feel good. I highly recommend checking out Bettina’s Insta, website, book, videos and community as she is full of great advice and healing practices 🌞
My husband and I have been “trying” on and off for the last 8 years or so. We’re both heading towards our late thirties now and I feel this overwhelming sense that time is running out for us. Unlike the other ladies who have shared their stories, I have never fallen pregnant. I have never had a positive result, natural or with IVF. I can only dream of the day where I take a pregnancy test and it comes up with two lines or the day that a nurse calls me and says “Congratulations, you’re going to be a mum!”. That would be amazing and surreal. After so many unsuccessful cycles, a part of me is making peace with the fact that we may never have a family. This is the loss that I’m grieving. I feel like there’s a small hole in my heart now, it’s not enough to completely stop it from beating but I know it’s there. If it never gets filled, my husband and I will no doubt still live an enjoyable life, just the two of us. I’ll eventually learn to live with it and we’ll be okay, family or no family. I say this to myself a lot these days, some days it’s easy to believe, some days it’s challenging.
It’s funny to think back that my husband was ready to start trying for a family early on in our relationship but I was like ‘no way, you’re crazy man’. I was still studying at university and I didn’t feel anywhere near ready. I naively thought we had all the time in the world back then, it didn’t even occur to me that we would have trouble conceiving when I finally felt everything aligned for us to start a family.
We spent a lot of years trying naturally and seeing different naturopaths and holistic doctors to help us increase our chances. Frustratingly, I wasn’t falling pregnant and it was becoming apparent after a while that we were going to need to go down the IVF route. In the midst of all that, I was diagnosed with latent tuberculosis and I had to go through a course of heavy antibiotics which meant another setback for us. It felt like we were trying to swim upstream the whole time and it really made me question whether I was trying to force something that clearly wasn’t meant to be. Meanwhile, all of my friends were falling pregnant left, right and centre. I felt like such a failure. Every time I received someone else’s good news – I wanted to be happy but it unceremoniously triggered so many negative thoughts and emotions because it felt so unfair. Why not me? Was there something wrong with me? Was I a bad person? Was I not worthy? Was I not fit to be a parent? Was my relationship with my husband not good enough?
To top it off, everyone had advice or a story of a sister, a family member, a friend, a work colleague who tried this, who did that and they fell pregnant straight away. I do recognise that people had good intentions and wanted to comfort me but it did the opposite, it just made me feel worse about myself. Relaxing holidays, changing my diet, holistic healers, more exercise, less exercise, hypnotherapy, fertility crystals, you name I had probably tried it. I even had a family member pass away a week or two after my embryo transfer (not that I planned or caused this!) I mention it because as soon as it happened, someone said to me, “Oh, you know what they say, someone has to pass away for a new soul to be born, it’s going to happen for you soon!”. Its disheartening when it’s never you.
I went into the first fertility treatment with such high hopes but every negative cycle chipped away at that. I felt at breaking point last year when I had back to back embryo transfers, all with negative results. It was heartbreaking. When I talk to people about IVF, they instantly bring up financial costs and while that can be a pain point, I mean seriously, we could have gone on a few awesome holidays with the amount we’ve spent (not to mention the sessions of reiki healing, herbal medication and acupuncture that I was going through on a regular basis to support the process), it was more the emotional, physical and emotional toll that bothered me. I was becoming severely depressed and I couldn’t find the joy in anything anymore.
My life became all about IVF and falling pregnant.
I didn’t really see friends or go out all that much last year, partially because of all the random clinic appointments and partially because I felt too tired and sad. I was a shadow of myself. Every conversation I had felt hollow and I had to fight back tears. I felt like I was constantly disappointing family and friends. As well as that, I wasn’t really coping with work, I felt extremely drained every day and I couldn’t focus, which of course, made me feel like even more of a failure at life.
At the moment, we’re still on our IVF journey albeit being on a much needed break. I’ve given myself permission to heal, my priority being to cultivate a more positive mindset. We have one last frozen embryo to transfer before my husband and I close this chapter of our lives. A huge part of me has been wounded too many times to think that I’ll meet my baby with this final attempt. I was going to have the transfer done earlier in the year with the attitude of “let’s just get this thing over and done with so we can move on with our lives.” However, I caught myself and thought what is the point if I go into the procedure with a dismissive “whatever” mentality. I wholeheartedly want to approach this last transfer with faith in myself, in the universe and in the process. I want to give it a fighting chance. I think time is the biggest healer so I’m going to take as much of it that I need to replenish my spirit and energy. When the time comes, I want to lean into feelings of love and have an open heart, even if it means it might get hurt again.
“You’ve got to trust yourself. Be gentle with yourself. And listen to yourself. You’re the only person who can get you through this now. You’re the only one who can survive your story, the only one who can write your future. All you’ve got to do, when you’re ready, is stand up, (and begin again.)” — Tessa Shaffer
I know how alone I felt in my thoughts while going through fertility treatments so if you feel like you don’t have anyone to reach out to that understands, I’m here for support – please feel free to email or DM me ❤️ And of course, Bettina at www.bettinarae.com