Sarah Ellis Life Fitness BLOG No. 1:
A pretty bold statement to make right? Those who know me well, will appreciate I am partial to the odd exaggeration! However, ask my husband Rich and he’s heard me wail that many times over the last few years in my lower, darker moments during our 5-year fertility journey.
The purpose of writing is one of a recent revelation and something I wanted to share (as I am sure I am not alone). When I reflect on why I’ve been so ‘bothered’ about not having, (and not being able to have), kids it actually occurred to me that there is more going on than the notion of actually having a kid! They are stinky, snotty, smelly little things that cost loads of money and are often quite annoying anyway right?! Ha! Ha!
When I think about it now (hindsight being that wonderful 20:20 thing), I’ve focused on getting pregnant for the last five years. Only now I can appreciate why its left me a little frazzled and jaded as I’ve been on a real emotional roller coaster. By naming some of those emotions that featured so strongly at times has helped me understand and accept more about what is going on. Here is my top ten that sit under the theme of ‘I’m a complete and utter failure’
1. Frustration – why the f*ck can’t I get pregnant!!! Month after month I got wound up and annoyed about what appeared to be the most natural thing on the bloody planet. This thing that has been happening to zillions of women for zillions of years! You know what to do and how to do it so why wasn’t it actually happening to me?! Admittedly I did check in once or twice about whether I had the theory and the practical mechanics correct! J
2. Sadness – I genuinely believed that my husband and I would have been great, inspirational role models as parents. With so many kids in disadvantaged or impoverished situations, I knew we could raise a fulfilled and happy go lucky child, so it made me really sad to think we would not get that chance to prove it.
3. Loneliness – some would argue it’s a form of sadness but I want to call it out separately as it’s a really important one. I have the best friends and family on the planet however there were many times I felt totally isolated from their worlds, their priorities and their sense of purpose as the majority of them were mothers or parents. As much as I tried, I could never be part of their ‘club’ and really understand what was going on for them and equally, that loneliness came from the fact that they would never really understand my world either (and its likely that it had never occurred to them that I was in a different club!)
4. Shame – I actually felt ashamed to say I couldn’t have kids simply because everyone else made it looks so darn easy (the getting pregnant bit – not raising the bloody things!) As someone who has always been proactive and ‘successful’ in so many other areas of my life I was ashamed to say that I couldn’t achieve this despite putting a whole heap of effort in and trying many different things (that will follow in a later blog as I can laugh now at the eclectic range of things I tried!!)
5. Embarrassed – I dreaded anyone asking me if I was pregnant or why wasn’t I as I felt stupid and dumb for not being able to make it happen. I also felt embarrassed as I knew some felt pity that I couldn’t have what they had and what I wanted
6. Jealousy – within my fairly close circle of friends and family there are more than 50 children (yes, 50) who have been born within the last 5 years – it was actually closer to 60 when I counted but I’ve never been a fan of details! So, whilst I am truly delighted for my friends (and my lovely mum has kindly knitted many of them garments as congratulatory presents), its been quite tough on some occasions to see them all pop out. Often those pangs of jealously may simply have lasted a split second but I am going to admit to it as I’m human!
7. Guilt – there is nothing that makes my own mum and dad light up and happier than playing the role of grandparents and what amazing grandparents they are too! Its what they live for and at times I felt so guilty for not giving them any further opportunities to extend their love further. Similarly, I am so close to my sister and cousins and felt guilty for not giving my lovely nieces and nephew great play mates.
8. Anger – it would bring out the worst in me when you realised another month, another year would pass without the result you wanted. I would really beat myself up about why it wasn’t happening as a symptom of that anger – not helpful at all but something that appeared to happen quite naturally.
9. Fear – I will admit that I actually feared a life without kids on more than one occasion simply because a life without kids wasn’t what most people were doing around me! What were the rules, how did you spend your time, what was your purpose when you didn’t have kids? How insane does that sound but it was true! Most conformed with the model of a husband/wife, a couple of kids and worked, went on holiday blah, blah…. and it felt strange not slotting into how others were doing it. Plus, another type of fear dawned on me only in the last few years; who the hell is gonna help look after me when I’m old, withered and need to be taken to the toilet?! Argh!! It was a very considerate colleague (sarcastic tone) who put the fear of God in me and asked me about this!
10. Vulnerability – my favourite of them all as its such a profound and deep feeling at the centre of all of these reflections. Only now am I allowing ‘my cloak of protection’ to fall. I’ve not wanted to be a burden and its easier to brush it off to say; I’m okay – don’t worry. Writing and sharing this blog still admittedly makes me feel a bit queasy yet I know I am beautifully imperfect, and these are real (and deep) emotions I have experienced and it’s a big part of who I am today.
Labelling and acknowledging these emotions has really helped me realise that there is more to it than ‘just wanting a child’. Its helped me accept that these were true feelings that I didn’t really understand at the time; whilst some were only fleeting, others lasted longer and knocked my confidence and ability to see things clearly.
Being honest and open now is my way of showing that even if you feel one of these emotions, you are not alone and its okay to experience this.