It’s been two years since my husband and I started our journey. During this time we have lost three babies, and went through a period of treatment and difficulty conceiving. You can read more about our story here. There is no doubt that this has been the hardest thing that both my husband and I have ever been through.
During this time, I felt like I have had four separate problems:
- Stress around trying again and fear about the future.
- Comparison: during these two years, five of my seven closest girlfriends have fallen pregnant easily and had their babies. A huge, almost ridiculous number of other friends in our circles have done the same. I felt I needed my friends more than ever, but being around them only made me feel miserable and envious.
- Depression and personal crisis: life was not going to plan, and like anyone nearing their rock bottom, I have been forced to navigate suffering, and grow in ways that I didn’t feel ready to. At times I have never felt weaker. I felt completely broken down to nothing. I have slowly been rising from the ashes since the loss of our third baby. Perhaps this has been the hardest challenge of all.
As I write this I am 11 weeks pregnant and am still navigating this journey. It has changed me forever. There has been no magic solution- but time, and a subtle series of events that have made my days a little easier.
These are the things that have helped me the most:
My Husband (and our Kimmy dog!)
My husband is the most kind and supportive person I have ever met. This journey has been such a challenge to us, but it has made us stronger than we ever thought possible.
I am aware that this would sound ridiculous to an outsider. Discovering the ttc community and starting my own anonymous account has probably been the thing that has helped me the most. I wish that I had done it 18 months earlier. It has allowed me to find so many strong, courageous and amazing women who are all on their own journey, many of whom who have had similar experiences to my own. Anything that helps you to feel less alone (and beyond that, supported and understood) is a very good thing.
Another thing that I wish I had done 18 months earlier. After our third loss (why did it take three?) I knew it was time. My friends and family didn’t know how to support me after one loss, let alone three (with a traumatic, life threatening experience thrown in for good measure). I was open to the idea of seeing a physchologist, counsellor, therapist, or anyone, but preferably someone who had an understanding of what I had been through. I was surprised that my RE had nobody to recommend. I chose a place called Open Doors- a counselling group that specialises in pregnancy loss and pregnancy related issues. I have been seeing the same counsellor there every fortnight for around four months, and it has helped me so, so much. Finding my own help meant that I didn’t have to rely on (and be disappointed by) understanding and support from friends and family.
I haven’t written much on this blog yet, but writing down my fears was a huge turning point. When I am feeling anxious, I reach for my journal. Writing it out makes is less scary, and it helps me so much. I especially find it helpful before bed.
Deactivating my Facebook Account
I intended to take a “break” for a couple of weeks- it’s been over 12 months and I do not miss it yet. I did open a second account where I have no friends, so that I could still remain a member of a couple of the groups that I was in. Which brings me to the next point…
Using Facebook Support Groups (with caution!) – that lead me to friends
I joined a few about 12 months in to my journey. I got some amazing things from them- I learned that every single feeling, thought and emotion that I had experienced was completely normal. For example- I had convinced myself that I was a bad, bitter person because I was avoiding my pregnant friend. Seeing other women feel the same things helped me to ease up on myself. I also made a couple of close connections who I kept in touch with via email- one ttc sister in particular has been an amazing support to me, and I consider her a true friend. It is so amazing to have someone to speak to who completely understands and accepts you. I left the groups after my third loss, when I realised that they were causing me to feel more fear about the future than support, and that’s ok too. They helped me so much at a time that I needed it. I find instagram to be a much more positive space!
TRULY putting myself first, and being extremely kind to myself
It took me three losses to do this. Three! I wish I had done this after one. Shortly after my first loss, I hosted a baby shower and then couldn’t get out of bed for two days. After my third loss, I knew I just couldn’t put myself in situations that I knew would make me feel like shit anymore. I stopped doing things because I felt like I “should” to be a good friend. I said no A LOT, with zero guilt. This was especially challenging because at this point three of my closest friends were pregnant, and another had a newborn. It meant hardly seeing my friends. I did not go to my best friends baby shower. This kills me, but I know I just couldn’t have done it. I took her out to lunch to celebrate instead. I had to keep reminding myself that even though the situation is bad at the moment, it’s not forever. My friends are amazing, and even though they don’t understand they do try, that have been lovely in supporting me with what I need to do- if they weren’t I’m not sure why we would be friends. One night I was listening to a Molly Nicols workshop, and she said “you are entitled to feel whatever you are feeling” – hearing these words was a huge turning point for me: they were the permission slip that I had been refusing to give myself. I thought that I was handling the situation terribly, flailing and struggling. When I took a step back, I could see that I have handled things as best I as I could, and I have actually been pretty amazing! I began to be kind to myself, buy myself flowers, give myself permission to rest, do nothing and take baths. It has helped my healing both physically and emotionally.
Praying and asking for help
This is one of the more personal things here, and I almost didn’t share it. I know it’s not for everyone. I am not a religious person (although in my early years I was raised Catholic)- but I am very spiritual and have never doubted that there is a God or universal energy, or whatever you may choose to call it. I started praying and asking for help, strength and support again a few months ago- something I hadn’t done since I was a child. I think I was inspired to do it by all of my Christian ttc sisters (and there are a lot of you out there!) – so thank you for that. I have found it comforting.
Choosing Love over Fear
I’m still working on this one. Since my first loss (which happened only three months into our journey), my whole approach towards ttc was from fear. What if it happens again? What is wrong with me? What if I never have children? When I thought about my future my heart ached. Rather than thinking about how amazing it would be when we had our baby (a place of love), I felt fear and even terror about the future. I think is a totally normal part of the process, and I don’t think I could have reached this change any sooner. Being 11 weeks pregnant now, I still feel fear all the time. When I made an effort to look at the future from a place of love (actually smiling while visualising how amazing it would be to have our baby on my chest, our toddlers running into the room and jumping on the bed, walking our kids to school, or even adopting children in the future) everything changed. It’s such a challenge, but being aware of fear and trying to replace the thoughts with love instead is huge. My favourite authors who write about this topic are Melissa Ambrosini and Gabrielle Bernstein.
This post by Tara Bliss
I have been following Tara’s work for as long as she’s had work to follow. Her writing truly resonates with me. When she went quiet earlier this year, I wondered if it was possible that she was going through something similar. She reemerged with a blog post series called “The Wounds of my Womb”- my heart absolutely broke for her. The final post in the series caused a huge change in me. She wrote about the grace that had come from her suffering, and feeling the love of her babies shining down on her. Before reading this I had often felt rejected by my babies, like I was an inadequate mother to my babies, like I couldn’t protect them. My perspective shifted and I realised that the love of my babies was all around me. That they were proud of me for the strength I had shown in navigating this time. This was huge, and I can’t thank Tara enough for sharing her story.
I used to be a meditation junkie, but I had fallen out of it in the last few years. I have been getting back into some guided meditations, which do amazing things for my anxiety. I am doing my best to make this a priority in my life again.
Well, that’s it for now- I am sure that I will add to this list in the future. I am I hope that you have found something in this long-winded post helpful! I would love to hear from you- what have you found helpful on your journey?
Lots of love,