The world can seem very unfair if you are trying to fall pregnant and it’s not happening. Each month it can feel like grief and loss all over again and as time wears on the pain can become more and more difficult. Women who are having fertility problems usually tell us that this issue can become all consuming, impacting on their life in several ways.
It is actually very common for it to take time falling pregnant. Despite what popular media will have us believe, it can take between 6 and twelve months to conceive (depending on age and a range of other things). These statistics are cold comfort however when you feel the sadness, disappointment, rage and frustration when another month goes by.
Infertility can take up a lot of mental space for women and their partners. They will usually spend a lot of time worrying, calculating, stressing and blaming themselves. They might wonder if they have done something wrong, left it too late or didn’t eat the right things. There is also a sense of urgency as women can often acutely feel the pressure of the ticking clock.
Typically, these worries and distractions can then impact on relationships; especially intimate relationships. The pressure on couples when they are trying to conceive can mount as fertility treatment can be financially draining, one person might want to keep trying, one partner might dislike sex if it has become only for procreation and there may be conflict about what each person should be doing to help the process. It can also become all that a couple talks about; creating distance between them or a sense that there is nothing else happening in their world.
“I remember one day sitting in my car outside my house for three hours because I didn’t want to go inside and talk to my husband. It had become the only thing we ever talked about”
Adding to the sense of isolation, infertility can also impact on friendships. In our counselling service we have spoken to many women who report that pregnancy announcements, Facebook posts, attending baby showers and visiting friends’ babies can become increasingly painful as time goes on. Naturally, this can lead to women withdrawing from friendship groups, avoiding functions and social gatherings and possibly not telling people about their struggles. Experiencing the disappointment each month can feel more manageable if you don’t have to re-tell the story again and again it to well-meaning friends.
This is further complicated if the infertility occurs with a wanted second or third pregnancy. Along with the disappointment and frustration this situation can also cause confusion- especially if the first pregnancy happened quite easily. There can be very little support for families in this situation as there may be a sense that they should just be grateful for the baby(‘s) they do have.
This journey along the path of infertility can be lonely, confusing, disappointing, depressing and isolating. Well-meaning friends or family might say ‘just relax and it will happen” or “have you thought of adoption?” or even, “my friend Sandra did IVF and it worked first time!”. It seems we have no words in our language that can accurately sum up the experience of infertility, whether it goes for a short while or many years. But universally, couples report feeling isolated so the best thing you can do is educate your family about what you are going through and seek out support from people who you trust and who have capacity to support you.
“It’s hard to grieve the loss of something you never had, but it happens every single month.
To let your body and your mind mourn the inability to carry life inside you… yet again.
To not blame yourself and feel like a failure.
To not want to run away from it all; the disappointment, the jealousy and the tears.
To not scream at the top of your lungs about everything you’ve invested just to have your heart break over and over.
To put on a mask everyday pretending you’re okay, when you really wonder if you’ll ever feel whole again.
To start another day questioning if this is really it… do I finally call it quits? And if I do, to have the strength to say: Lord save me from drowning in my tears and show me your way, as I’m struggling to see your face through all the pain.”