Understanding loss in infertility
I couldn’t write about anything else today. The worst imaginable happened to my friend this week, as her husband past away very suddenly leaving a tidal wave of confusion and pain.
The ripples of shock spread very far to acquaintances and people who’ve not been in touch for years. I’ve never experienced significant loss like this and neither have any of my friends, as far as I’m aware, so it’s new territory for all of us and something I really wish my friend didn’t have to go through especially at this stage in her life.
Whilst shaking us all sideways, the events this week got me thinking about the loss that many of us go through during infertility and how other people react to us either during the years that we long for a child or after miscarriage.
Loss is such a heavy word and is used predominantly to signify something you once had that you don’t have any more. The feeling of loss during infertility, therefore, can sometimes be difficult for other people to understand.
Unless we’re talking about miscarriage, we never technically had a baby to lose, but it’s the loss of the life we were expectingto have which is what we often experience and the mental preparation and energy it takes to come to terms with that at the same time as fighting to keep that dream alive.
We couldn’t do it without support though – support from our loved ones, but also solidarity from women going through the exact same things. When we grieve, we grieve together, not alone and it helps us open up and express how we’re feeling in a safe environment with people who really understand.
It’s also important to help others help us. There will be tons of friends and family around you who want to understand what you’re going through, who might be finding it hard to relate to infertility if they’ve never had to experience it, so exploring the sense of loss with them might be a good place to start.
5 ways to explain loss during infertility
- It can sometimes be explained as a loss of the life you always expected to have
- Infertility can lead to a loss of identity – who am I if not a mother? What’s my role in life? Helping other people understand that is useful.
- Sometimes the loss is related to confidence. You might judge yourself against your friends who have children and feel like you’re less capable
- There is often a loss of faith in your body at some point during infertility while you try and rationalise why you can’t create a baby which is supposed to be such a natural, spontaneous event
- Loss of control is also common as you start having to entrust medical professionals with your dream
When it comes to miscarriage, the sense of loss can be more obvious to others, although not always. People may be of the mindset that because the baby hadn’t developed fully or was very early in its growth that there was nothing much to lose in the first place. Obviously to anyone who has experience miscarriage this notion is absurd and perhaps even more so after a period of infertility.
I’ll never forget the physical sensations during my first miscarriage. My stomach was cold, it felt empty even though my baby was still inside. A horrid, lonely time full of fear and hollowness but I made sure I invited help and support from my friends and family to avoid shutting myself out from the world, which is also tempting. It’s only when something really hard hits you, that you discover how much support you have in the world, from people you thought you’d lost touch with to people you’ve only just met. You’re never alone.
I’ll leave you with this beautiful quote from American author Suze Orman:
“When you lose something in your life, stop thinking it’s a loss for you… it is a gift you have been given so you can get on the right path to where you are meant to go, not to where you think you should have gone.”
If I hadn’t have gone through the journey I have, with the losses I’ve experienced, I wouldn’t have the gorgeous boy I have today.
Wishing you peace and hope