Infertility: different kinds of grief

I nearly named this post “fifty shades of grief”, but thought that was a little too on the nose!

What I’ve learnt through my infertility journey is that grief does not necessarily mean death. It does not always mean that you have lost a loved one.

I experienced shock, grief and loss a couple of weeks ago. Some of you may read this and probably feel that I’m not using the appropriate word for my feelings. After all, the word “grief” is a strong one. But that is genuinely how I felt and these feelings were painful and difficult and to me, felt like grief.

Two weeks ago, my parents let me know that my brother’s girlfriend is pregnant. Baby is due in October.

Now, I may sound bitter with my next few words, but these are the thoughts that first went through my head: he does not have a stable job, I’m not even sure where he lives and he is not the most responsible person in the world. They have also been together for only 1 year. I’ve been with my husband for 12, trying for 3.5.

What happened first was the shock. I didn’t think he was even trying! I was in shock for about 24 hours. I did not eat, I barely slept, just spent 24 hours watching Netflix and crying constantly. I think it was because it was so out of the blue that my system just could not process the information properly.

Then, a sort of denial, where I “forgot” that I was going to be an aunt and my brother was going to be a father. “No, it can’t be happening, I must have dreamt it” or “It’s probably a false positive” (knowing full well these don’t really happen…)

After a day or so, more crying and this time an overwhelming sense of loss. Basically the loss of the ideas and hopes that I had had in my head about my family: I am the eldest and I wanted my child to be the first grandchild. I’ve lost that hope. The eldest is always the favourite and I wanted my child to be the favourite.

Then I mourned for the relationship I’ve got with my parents. I tell my mum everything. And although she doesn’t always think before she speaks, I was sad because I did not feel I could be honest with her about the situation. After all, she would be ecstatic to finally become a grandmother, how could I take that joy away from her? So now I’m wondering how much time I can spend with my parents without their happiness killing me.

Now, I’m just living in fear. I’m living in fear that my sister will also get pregnant before I do (she is 8 years younger than me), or that my brother-in-law becomes a father before I do, and my child is not the first grandchild on my husband’s side. Then that dream would be truly dead.

I’m living in fear that all my friends are going to have babies before I do and that the pain is going to be too much to bear and I will end up with no friends, alone and in tears.

My IVF treatment is starting soon and statistically only 20% results in a baby, so I’m at a loss and hope it fading fast. I’m afraid of having a miscarriage. I’m afraid that the funded IVF won’t work and that I’ll run out of money for more IVF treatment.

I’m afraid of the adoption conversation as I’m not sure that’s what I want. I’m afraid that if we do decide to adopt my dad won’t accept the baby (he’s very old-fashioned).

Finally, I feel like I am grieving for the life that I had imagined for myself and that I don’t have.

Before my infertility journey, I had no idea just how much we suffer in these circumstances and I’m still surprised at the intensity of my feelings at times. All I can say is that my thoughts are with all those who are on the infertility journey. Hopefully my next post will be brighter, hopefully I’ll feel brighter soon.

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