The light at the end of the tunnel.

I’ve been worried that posting this would be inappropriate, that it would be too sad, or too self-absorbed. It’s a post about how I’m still not pregnant, you see. And I’ve never wanted to take away from Clare’s enjoyment of her pregnancy, nor that of any of our lovely readers who might be expecting a baby. And then there’s not wanting to upset those who are in a similar situation to mine…there’s always a reason not to talk about it. But there are always reasons to talk about it as well. I have to apply Clare’s excellent logic, ‘I thought if just one of you worries and doubts yourself like I did, I wanted to let you know – it’s ok.’

My greatest enemy in this ongoing battle (besides my ovaries-twirling their mustaches with their evil booming laughs…) is, wouldn’t you know it, me. And not because I spend all my time moping and hating myself and my body, but because I spend inordinate amounts of time consumed with guilt and anxiety about how those around me-my friends and family-are dealing with my infertility. As if I didn’t have enough to be getting on with.

I cry every time a friend tells me that she is expecting a baby. Not because she’s having a baby and that makes me sad and I want a baby, but because I know how much it has cost them to tell me their amazing, life-changing, incredible news, how hard they find it to say those magical words, ‘I’m having a baby’. I cry because in that moment, I hate myself and my stupid, broken body for casting even the tiniest of shadows over what should be the happiest time of my friends’ lives. (Someone far wiser, braver and more fabulous than I could ever hope to be-that’s you, Sarah M-recently said to me that my friends only find it hard because they care about me and want me to be happy. I love her for that and I’m working hard every day to remember it.)
Once I’m done with the guilt, I move onto stressing and obsessing that my pregnant friends are spending all their time pitying me, discussing my plight between themselves with their heads tilted to one side and death-bed expressions on their faces. I KNOW, I’M RIDICULOUS.  Of course they’re not sitting around talking about me-they have a bajillion and one better things to do, like growing feet, for example.
After my stint in StressObsessville, I head straight back on to the Land of Guilt. I feel guilty that I’m broken (that guilt is constant), guilty for being so self-absorbed, guilty that, in my deluded state of believing that EVERYONE IS TALKING ABOUT ME, I have missed exciting early developments in my friends’ pregnancies.

So yes, whether it’s accidental or planned, a first or second, whether it’s a best friend or a colleague; pregnancies are hard for me to deal with. But not because I’m jealous, or bitter. It’s only ever difficult because I am filled with regret at how my condition affects others. I have long since accepted how it affects me and my husband. Two years is a long time and you can come to a lot of important conclusions in that time. But the guilt and the sorrow never goes away. Once it dulls however, I am all over those pregnancies. Hearing news of the first kick, seeing the scan pictures, stories of getting in a lift only to hear ‘Lift overloaded, please reduce the load’….they all make me smile, laugh and nearly-pee-myself-laughing respectively. All of my friends will make amazing mothers and parents in their own different, exciting ways. They’ll approach the challenges of raising children in different ways and have their own stories to tell of lessons learned. I think myself lucky that I’ll have so much experience to draw from when my time comes.

My condition means that we were never faced with the monthly disappointments, negative pregnancy tests, temperature charting and rampant twice-a-day sex that many ‘trying to conceive’ (I point blank refuse to use ridiculous forum abbreviations, and I won’t apologise) couples have to go through. I always suspected, in that way that women do, that something wasn’t quite right and we were told, very simply, one cold Monday morning in November two years ago, that we would not be able to have children without a large helping of drugs and ‘assistance’ (read: ‘interference’). I think this has, in a warped and I-wish-unnecessary way, helped me to deal with my infertility in a way I could never have done if we were in the typical failed monthly cycles camp. That’s not to say I’m always happy and well-adjusted, or that our marriage doesn’t suffer on occasion. That my husband doesn’t worry about me every.single.day and feel exhausted when I am hours into yet another crying fit. But we are managing. We are coping, in our own way, us two. I continue to try to be the best wife I can, the best friend I can. We continue together, on our journey to become parents. We *might* be getting close.

As I said at the beginning of this ramble, I didn’t want to upset anyone by talking about how I feel, about how much I want something that’s proving very difficult to achieve. But then, that’s exactly what upsets me when people tiptoe around me and my infertility. So I ‘manned up’ and pressed Publish. It’s important to me that you all know that I’m doing ok, that your amazingly kind e-mails and words and thoughts are appreciated more than I can possibly put into words and that whilst no-one’s situations and experiences are ever, ever the same, that I am here with a non-tilted head and much empathy and ability to laugh at a shitty situation if you ever need anyone to talk to.

Categories: Becoming a Mother, Family, Friends and Relationships, Health
34 interesting thoughts on this

34 Comments

  1. Posted October 19, 2011 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    Hi, I just wanted to say how brave you are for posting this. I hopw things go your way very soon.
    Best wishes,
    Shelley

  2. Posted October 19, 2011 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Morning A, you beautiful and wise old owl. I love you for writing this and for your perspective on things. If people think its somehow easier or more convenient not to talk about hard stuff like this, they can sod the hell off. This is real life and is part of your story. It's also part of mine because I love you, of course. And my heart aches and swells simultaneously for you two, finding your own way (but not on your own) I hope one day soon you'll work a way out of this, and I'll be there with baileys and jedward and 6 inch heels and flags (and cymbals?) as you go. A big fat goofy grin (with teeth) and with no tilted head AT ALL x

  3. Posted October 19, 2011 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    It's not upsetting, it's inspirational. Of course all I want to do is hug you, let you rip the piss out of me (OMGeeeee) and yes, get your coffee, but my overiding feeling is one of absolute bloody pride and admiration for the way you view this and the way you worry about your friends.

    I had to pause there to gather- you are, one day, going to be an incredible mother to children whose names Phil can't spell, and I know just how much compassion you will teach them. You're right, this journey will make you infinitely stronger as a couple and whilst you know all of the above please let me tell you missy how f-ing fabulous you are. That's not pity, it's not false love, it's just the truth and you deserve to be told.

    B xx

  4. Posted October 19, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Thank you so much for posting this. We've been in the " monthly disappointments" camp for about 20 months now and we're struggling with it. A lot of our family/friends don't know as we find it hard to talk about so really appreciate hearing your perspective. Wish I was as brave as you are. Like others have said I really hope you and your husband reach the light at the end of this tunnel very soon and when you do, you'll be an amazing mother.

    Hugs xx

  5. Mahj
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 9:29 am | Permalink

    Aisling, this is such a beautifully honest post, thank you for having the courage to write it.
    I dont think I have to tell you (but will anyway obviously) that I think you are really effing awesome and that when you and Phil reach that light, man oh man, you will make such an amazing mother. Trust.

    xoxo

  6. Sarah
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    You're really brave Aisling. I really really wish you both all the best in becoming parents. x

  7. Sarah
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Also, you have put yesterday's money worries post into a bit of perspective for me. There is a bigger picture that's for sure x

  8. Posted October 19, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Can I confess that I totally do get jealous when I hear that my friends are pregnant? And that it can take me from 3 days to a week before I can actually be properly happy for someone? And that I'm not proud of that, actually I find it to be the ugliest and worst part of struggling with infertility, and I really really don't want to feel that way, but I think also that I'm not alone.

    We are not in the monthly disappointment camp but in the reaccuring early miscarriage camp – but lets face it: all of the infertility camps are pretty devastating places to be. I am wishing you and everyone else who struggles with this so much luck.

  9. Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Lovely Aisling, I'm so glad you wrote this post. Do you feel better for it? As you know, I'm in the not-knowing-if-it-can-happen camp which isn't much fun but I'm full of admiration for how you face this head on. You guys will make fabulous parents, I know it.

    Big non-head-tilting-love (gah, if I ever do this you get a free hit),

    SJM x

  10. Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    No tilting heads here either Aisling. Thankyou for writing this, I know it can't have been easy. I hope you manage to get something out of sharing, because I know for sure there will be a lot of people reading this today who will take comfort and strength from your words. You are awesome and an inspiration, and all of the above proves what an amazing parent you will be when you reach your light.

    Px

  11. Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    Firstly, I want to hug you for writing this. Secondly, I want to hug you for having to go through this shit. And thirdly, I have to say you're handling this much more admirably than I did. Like Lauren, I got totally jealous and hurt and desperately miserable every time I heard of a friend's pregnancy. It's not dignified but whatever, it was an unavoidable part of the process for me.

  12. Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    Thanks Lauren, my friend is in the "recurrent miscarriages" camp too and as you said, none of these camps are good places to be. I feel the same when I hear about a pregnancy and hate that I feel that way too, you're definitely not alone.

    I've been deliberately avoiding the "trying for a baby" (also don't like the abbreviations) forums as I find them a bit scary, so it's so good to hear from women like you Aisling, thank you again. Wish I could give you a big hug!

    Lots of love, luck and kind thoughts to Lauren, Sarah M, Aisling and everyone else who is in the same boat. xx

  13. Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Lauren, Cara, Mrs W-you're all spot on about the jealousy being ugly and traumatic and god knows I did (and sometimes do) get horribly jealous, but it ate away at me and I started to get very unwell. The turning point came when I spoke to a wonderful counsellor. Lauren, if Cara's hugging me then I'm hugging you. I wish you all the very best luck in the world.

    To everyone, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my fragile heart. You're all wonderful.

    X

  14. Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    This is the bravest, most honest and beautiful piece of writing. It makes me want to hug you silly, for being so strong and amazing and inspirational. And I don't even know you.

    When you find your light, there will be so much joy. I hope for you it is soon.

    K x

  15. Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Katielase you said exactly what I was thinking but couldn't put into words, thank you.

    X

  16. Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Oh Aisling, you're so very brave – and so honest. I've been wondering how things were going with this stuff for you guys, so thank you for sharing. Keeping everything crossed for you guys. xx

  17. Esme
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Thank you so much for writing this Aisling. We need to talk more about how we genuinely feel about these situations – be it infertility, abortion, money, weddings that are different from 'the norm' or whatever. We are all women living in the modern world, struggling in our own ways and we can help each other.

    We haven't started trying, but it is my greatest fear that we won't be able to have a child. When it happens for you and Phil, we'll all be here with tears in our eyes and the biggest grins on our faces.

    xxx

  18. Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Well done on posting this Aisling – it can't have been easy but it's great that you had the balls to hit publish!

    I'm lucky in that despite having endometriosis and suspected PCOS I'm not really bothered about having kids (I really hope it stays that way and I don't suddenly hit a broody time). So although I can empathise on one level, I can only sympathise on the other, deeper issue.

    But one thing that makes me really angry is the lack of support for anything within the spectrum of 'womens problems' (doctors not taking you seriously, having to fight to get referrals, being sent away with just a photocopied leaflet etc)- particularly the fact that if you're undergoing tests for infertility or gynae problems you have to sit in a hospital waiting room surrounded by pregnant women, or if you suffer a late miscarriage or stillbirth you're admitted to the maternity unit. This just all seems so wrong to me and makes me so angry for anyone who has to suffer as a result of such thoughtlessness.

  19. Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    I really hope that didn't come across as flippant by the way, really sorry if it did.

  20. Posted October 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    Aisling, what i hear from you is bravery, honesty, courage and an incredible amount of strength.

    I hope you find a way to get everything you want, you deserve it.
    x

  21. Posted October 19, 2011 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    Aisling, this is such a brave and admirable post to write and just goes to show how everyone (even the ones who seem so happy and to totally have it together, i.e. you) is dealing with their own troubles. And like Sarah said, these sort of issues really put everyday silly crap into perspective.

    It's amazing, in a horrible kinda way, how many people can empathise with you just within the AOW community. Having not really thought about trying yet other than a brief 'in a few years' sort of way, I hadn't thought about what troubles and trauma could be lying ahead of us. I've adopted my usual 'it'll be alright on the night' approach to having kids but this is real eye opener to what the reality could be. I don't mean that in a negative way, but in a prepare myself way.

    Aisling it's so sad to hear all the sh*t you're having to go through and how much of your brain space it takes up. I really hope it's your time soon, really, really hope. Also, my friends have a beautiful little girl whose middle name is Grace because she was a miracle after her Mum was told she could never have kids. Doctors aren't always right!

    xXx

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  24. Posted October 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Ashling – I am so impressed by you.

  25. Posted October 19, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    I am sending you lots of baby dust, and I think you are wonderful for writing this. I admire your honesty x

  26. Posted October 19, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    thank you for this… we too are in the not-trying-every-month-because-we-already-know-we-won't-get-there camp… it's a continuing weird sadness that I would feel anything less than 100% thrilled for my (many) buddies having babies, and that they would feel anything less than 100% thrilled to tell me.

    For us, I know what we need to do but it's sort of too scary to take the first steps to make it happen.

  27. L
    Posted October 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Well done for being brave enough to post this and put it out there. i'm sure you didn't expect anything less than the support and ove from the wise AOW readers :)
    I am blissfully unaware of any potential fertility issues I may have as I am not planning kids any time soon but it does sometimes scare me that I'm just taking it for granted it'll happen and for so many people it's just not that easy.
    I have family currently going through their 3rd round of IVF and it breaks my heart, but I do know that one way or another they will have a family. Whether that is their own biological child or through adoption they are determined that the love and desire they have to raise a family won't go to waste.
    Good luck xx

  28. Posted October 19, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    Aisling, I'm so glad you wrote this. I'm really loathe to assume and spend all my time touching wood and qualifying madly when we or other people talk about us having children. And I have a good few years on you! We've talked about IVF and adoption, and what happens if… which is a bit gloomy pre-wedding but better to have that discussion now, I think.

    We've had a few bad things to deal with, and it sounds trite but adversity really brought us together with a bang, much more quickly than I think we would have come together with a smooth ride. So there are some good things even in the worst of times.

    I really, really hope there is light and it all works for you. Head firmly vertical.

  29. Posted October 19, 2011 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    Aisling, you remarkable, wonderful woman :) Thank you so much for writing this.

    I can now confess I read your House of Marbles post over and over again when I first found AOW. It was the only thing I could find on AOW about infertility and it resonated beyond words. Since then I have wondered if / hoped that you would write about this subject again, and applaud you for doing so as I know how difficult it is just to write this comment, let alone open you heart as you have just done in such an honest and frank way.

    Infertility brings with it many emotions but the feeling of loneliness(and dare I say it shame) is the one I find hardest. That's why posts like yours mean so much. I'm in the 'not ovulating properly' camp and at 36, with time feeling as though it is running out and almost 2 years of trying for a baby behind us, (and 15 years of being in a previous relationship where I was desperate for children but my ex-partner was not) I find it almost impossible just being around babies and young children – not that I could admit this to my friends or let it stop me from putting on a brave face with pregnant friends and friends' babies.

    And I know that one day we will have a family of our own, whether this is through IVF, adoption or (and I've not given up hope) naturally, and that whilst I would not wish infertility on anyone, I know that our marriage and my relationship with my husband is stronger for it.

    So I am with you on the crying fits and trying to continue to be the best wife and friend you can, and truly truly hope that you and Phil, and the others on here in a similar situation, get to be the wonderful parents you deserve to be. Sending you lots of love. xx

  30. Rebecca
    Posted October 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    Thinking of you Aisling. X

    I have a friend I've watched go through a first cycle of IVF which wasn't successful and it was heart wrenching. I also see it at work of course.

    If I have one thing to say though, it's that I'm with Sarah, trust those who love you to be there for you. Just as you are happy for their happy news, trust them to understand your sadness too.

    X

  31. Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Hi again ladies, I'm quite new to AOW and haven't seen the "House of Marbles" post you referred to Cathy B, is there anyway I can find it? Sounds like another insightful post that I'd really like to read.

    Cathy B like Katielase I feel you've captured how I feel about it all perfectly! I'm surrounded by pregnant ladies at work all day and find forcing a smile difficult too, as happy as I am for them. Also agree with Esme about how right Aisling was to post this as we do really need to talk about these kind of topics more openly. I've not even told my mum that we've been trying for almost 2 years and have been seeing a specialist and trying (so far unsuccessfully) medication as she always talks about grandchildren and I'm worried about upsetting her if we can't have any. I wish more blogs would talk about the difficult topics like this and the others you mentioned Esme – abortion, money, maybe even divorce, the big scary things in life that we often keep to ourselves.

    I'm also with Rebecca and Sarah – trust those who love you and who you love to be there for you too as much as you are there for them Aisling.

    I think all the comments on this post are so heartfelt and supportive and it's so comforting to read.

    Sarah (aka Mrs W, which I feel is too formal now, was just a bit embarrassed when I started commenting!) xx

  32. Posted October 20, 2011 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    Hi Sarah W! (No need to be nervous, you're amongst friends here…!)

    My 'House of Marbles' post is here, http://www.anyotherwoman.com/2011/01/house-of-marbles.html

    It's the first time I talked about our situation on the blog and it was a huge relief to do so-the community here at AOW are unbelievably wonderful.

    I'm glad the post and comments have helped-though it sometimes feels like you won't even be able to open your mouth, talking about it really does help. And if I can help in any way at all, you can email me at anyotherwedding@live.co.uk

    xx

  33. Posted October 20, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for making me feel welcome Aisling and thanks for the link to your first post. Like the one we're commenting on now it is so beautifully written I just can't put it into words (how many times has this post done that to me now?! It's usually a rare occurrence!) I think you're right about talking helping, it's all a bit complicated though but I'll email you, thank you so much for everything, means so much to me.

    xx

  34. Posted October 20, 2011 at 8:14 pm | Permalink

    REALLY grateful you shared this Aisling and from all the replies it shows you're def not alone- what a wonderful community of support, and of people going through similar things. I think you're utterly fabulous.
    Three cheers as always for AOW! It's the best xxx

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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