The day arrived when it was time to stop trying for the family my husband and I had always planned. We were sat in the car outside the hospital where we had just seen a re-occurring miscarriage specialist. It happened again and there was no way I could face another loss. Further health implications would follow but that was the moment I resigned myself to a whole new world of grief. It was far from acceptance. It felt more like a door slammed shut in our faces.
What now? Where do we go from here? 12 months on and I could barely drag a brush through my hair, let alone get out of bed or face the world. I had gained so much weight through comfort eating in an attempt to make myself feel better. At the time I cared so little for myself and every day was fuelled with panic attacks. I stopped leaving the house and my only purpose was to feed and cuddle my little dog. My husband and I would avoid each other, being careful not to break the eggshells we walked upon. I wasn’t sure we were going to make it through. I barely cared at the time.
Not many people knew of our grief. The few who did lacked any knowledge or showed any compassion. This included toxic family. You soon discover the true colours people show when you no longer fit in with their plans. You get to see the real ugly side to those you once held in such high esteem. It dawns on you each time just how isolating this childlessness is.
Then comes the resentment of being quizzed by acquaintances. The ‘tick-tock, biology clock’ comment infuriates me. The morning sickness suggestion every time you feel unwell. I wanted to scream.
Last Christmas was another turning point for me. I was so very hurt by my family. My mother un-invited us both, stating, “Christmas was only for children”. In 36 years I was hearing this for the first time. My mum then proceeded to call me that day to brag of her amazing ‘family’ day! The support from my mother entailed holding her hands up and informing me I never ‘caught’ it from her. Insinuating my infertility came from the genetic line of a father I never met. Her cure for me was suggesting rubbing a fertility statue in a museum in Blackpool. No amount of therapy will ever change my past but a good detox (from family) was a great starting point. At that point I didn’t know where to turn for help.
The best thing I ever did was search online to see if there were any support groups for people who were childless not by choice. Something different from forums designed for people trying to still get pregnant. I never expected there would be, I was just a little curious. To my surprise there were many closed groups on Facebook. I was a little unsure at first; after all, Facebook was a major source of pain. It was full of birth and pregnancy announcements, baby scans, photos and child bragging posts. All of a sudden the world felt smaller. All Facebook ever provided were endless reasons to un-follow and un-friend. I joined a few groups and read posts for days. There were mainly women and a few men from all walks of life experiencing the same prejudice and daily challenges. It felt as though I found a safe haven, filled with people on the same emotional roller coaster as my husband and I.
I started healing by sharing my story, finding my voice and letting all I had bottled up go. Some days were better than others. That is still the case. As I grew in strength, so did my partner. We have been able to repair our marriage and now feel closer than ever. On our most recent holiday my husband sat down and watched a TED Talk presented by Jody Day. It was titled: The lost tribe of childless women. We sat there in silence, holding hands. Tears streaming down both of our faces. This moment touched his soul and he found clarity. It almost gave him permission to grieve at long last. He finally saw everything inside my heart I couldn’t express.
Groups like Childless Path to Acceptance (not ttc) have allowed me to heal and offload. The members of the group offer so much warmth and compassion. We suffer the hardships together along with celebrating the little successes along the way. We are the way family should be. I have been able to enjoy the positive benefits of being childless on a sister group called Childless Perks!! On good days it a light-hearted place where us CNBC make the most of a bad situation.
Not every moment will be painful; there are days where you don’t feel the need to cry. Of course, I would still give anything for things to be different, but I am beginning to find a new way of co-existing in a child-centric world. Another group was set up as a safe place to share hobbies, crafts and chat in a child free zone, aptly named Childless Chitchat. There are many other groups out there. I encourage anyone struggling with infertility to find one or two groups that feel like home. Not only will it help you come to terms with your situation but also improve the lives of those around you by proxy. I am so thankful I found support.