Sharing this blog written whilst I was trying to conceive myself but with slight amendments due to the current state of affairs. (Originally shared for the UK’s Mother’s Day in March.)
Mother’s Day, like Christmas and our birthdays, is a time when it is really difficult not to think about how we had expected our lives to turn out. Each year I thought that by the next I would have my baby and be taking him or her with me to our annual Mother’s Day meal in the Cotswolds with my mum, gran and extended family. But just because this is how I thought my life should look did not mean that it materialised within my demanded time frame. One of the most difficult but most useful lessons I have learnt from bringing mindfulness to my fertility struggles is the following:
Remove the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary
I should have two children by now.
This is how my life should look.
I should have done this.
I should have done that.
At this time we can add to this list of shoulds. I know many of you have had treatment delayed so your lists of should might included I should be starting IVF or doing transfer this week.
Should is always paired with regret or disappointment. Many Embrace Fertility members have said how they could cope with infertility if they were given a deadline. For example: “Don’t worry in three years time you will have your baby.” That way you could get on with your life in the meantime knowing that it would happen in the future.
Instead we give ourselves deadlines, by next Mother’s Day, by my birthday and then when what we want does not materialise we are devastated and feel even more let down. Ditch the word should and if you can ditch all self-imposed deadlines, be that for getting pregnant or anything else that you ultimately do not have control over.
From this day forth the word ‘should’ has been removed from your vocabulary!
I would like to add that what I was asking for/visualising has now materialised and if my Gran’s nursing home wasn’t in lock down I would be taking my two mini people to our family Mother’s Day meal in the Cotswolds, it just took a few years longer than I hoped it would. Read my story here 0 to 6 babies in 4 years!
Musings on the days before motherhood
I just stumbled across a beautiful article on the days before motherhood. Written by midwife Jana Studelska describing the emotional and physical changes experienced in the run-up to labour. An in-between place marking the boundary between the woman you were and mother you are about to become. This place of waiting, anticipation and tension. A land where nothing quite feels real anymore. Raw emotions, fluctuating hormones and a sense of disconnection from everyday life. Sound familiar?
This is how I experienced infertility. The woman I was before we started trying to conceive became pale in comparison to the mother I imagined I would be. I was ready to step out of my old world and into the new. But my new world was not ready yet and I was left in that in-between space, not able to go back and yet prevented from moving forward.
You know that place between sleep and awake, the place where you can still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you, Peter Pan. That’s where I’ll be waiting. -Tinkerbell
Evoking a sense of longing and a dreamlike quality. Your time incarcerated in infertility can be spent imagining the life you thought you would be living, whispering to your unborn children, willing them to take your hand and lead you from limbo, not fully living in the present day and unable to go back to the life you once knew.
The article talks of the time before birth as a necessary transition, one that should be acknowledged and respected. But what of the time spent trying and failing to conceive? Culturally this time is invisible. The phrase ‘trying to conceive’ conjures up images of ditching the birth control and having lots of sex. It does not comprehend the waiting, wanting, the anxiety, the loss. If we as a society at large had a word to represent this time other than infertility which in itself does not encompass the volumisty of this period of our lives, would it then be easier to bear?
If we had a word that summed up our aspirations as well as our desolation. A word that encompassed the physical, personal and spiritual growth that infertility can force us to undertake. A word that touched on the anticipation however fleeting that a miracle can occur in any given month. A word that we could use to describe this transition period of our lives that would empower rather than inhibit us. A word that would give us permission to express what we are experiencing without others feeling the need to pity us or bolster us up.
They say the scars of infertility never leave you but for me I will wear my war wounds with pride knowing that the emotional battles I fought with myself have shaped who I am and for that I will always be grateful. During this strange time we are in I can see how the lessons I learnt then are serving me now and allowing me to ride through my fear and step up to support others and offer comfort.
FREE ‘Fertile Thoughts Activation Quick Start Pack’
Gifts for mums and mums-in-waiting
A colleagues friend makes the fab biscuits shown in the main image check them out at: www.the-kitsch-hen.co.uk. Here is a message from Caroline:
“During our second round of IVF I started baking and stamping biscuits with little messages of love, and inspiration, and hope, and it’s sort of grown from there! Mother’s day is just around the corner, and it can be such a difficult time for so many, I know I used to just want to bury my head under the duvet when it came around, so this year, as well as my regular Mothers Day biscuits, I’ve launched a special set for those that might need a little reminder from someone who loves them that they are brave, and strong and wonderful. They’re available on the website now, and 15% of all sales will be donated to Fertility Network UK. Lots of love to everyone xxx”
PS I don’t earn any commission I just think they are cool biscuits.
Originally posted in 2015.