Thursday, 27 March 2014

A 'Proper' Family

by Bex

It was brought to my attention recently that I may have caused offence to people with the post I wrote when I was really struggling.  When I wrote that post, I think it was clear that I really was in a pit of despair and I wasn't coping very well at all with everything that has happened over the last few months.  I mentioned a lot of my feelings at the time and also all of the things I was worried we would never get to experience.  One of those things was feeling like a proper family, making people grandparents and uncles.  I absolutely never meant to imply that not having children means you aren't a proper family.  I absolutely respect that some people choose not to have children and others, like us, simply can't and for whatever reason decide not to pursue other routes such as adoption.  Of course I realise that a life without children can be a happy one but for me, at that time, I couldn't see that for my life.  Having wanted children for years and always having assumed it would one day happen made it hard for me to deal with the fact it may not.  When that possibility was constantly slipping out of our reach I really struggled to see the good things in life.

Reading it back, I do sound awfully dramatic about it all.  At the time, I was genuinely convinced that our chance at ever being pregnant was over.  I was grieving for that loss.  You may not understand that as I never had a child to grieve but I had lost something.  Our child has always existed to me.  Yes, only in my head, but ever since we decided to start trying for a family, or if I'm being honest, even before that, I could imagine our family life.  And back when I wrote that post, I was trying to come to terms with the fact that our family was never going to be the way we expected.

I had already dealt with the fact that our route to start a family was different, we could no longer just make it happen, we needed help from doctors, nurses and embryologists.  When it seemed like even that was beyond reach, the decision to start a family was no longer in our hands.  If we go down the adoption route - someone else makes the decision about whether we ever get to be parents!  That scares me.

The thing is, I guess it depends on your definition of family.  As you can see above, I have said the words "start a family" a few times because that's what we all say when we decide to have children.  It doesn't mean that you don't already have a family.  If anything, I feel like I have a huge family as I count many of my friends as family given that many of my actual family live far away.  But having grown up always thinking that one day I would get to have a family of my own, i.e. have children.  Having that possibility taken away from me has been very hard to bare.  It was part of our wedding ceremony, that we wanted to share a life together and start a family.  That is all I meant by my comment.  That and the fact I know our parents also wish to be grandparents.  Seeing others sharing their new young families with the rest of their family, uncles, aunties, cousins, I just want to be able to do the same thing.

I know fairness has nothing to do with it, we are no more or less deserving than anyone else who wants a baby but the feeling of just how unfair it seems that we want this so much and it still wasn't happening was too much for me on top of everything else - not knowing where we'd be living, Nik having been on nights all week, a general feeling of lack of control over our lives.  I gave up.  I'm not proud of that but I am grateful to have received so much love and understanding at the really tough times.

I wish I could have handled this whole experience better.  I wrote about how I couldn't see a future and had nothing to look forward to.  Luckily that has now changed (even before our doctor miraculously managed to navigate my crazy cervix to implant our embryos, I actually started writing this before that happened!) and I can look forward to living in Brighton, we have a holiday to enjoy, there are lots of weekends of plans coming up...

I do know how lucky we are, even though it doesn't always feel like it but I'm sorry, sometimes the sadness just takes over because when you want something THIS much and this life changing and it just seems like it will never happen, it can get hard to see the good things.  I don't mean to only dwell on the bad.  And I am so grateful for my husband, family and friends who stand by me and help to pull me out of that pit and see the good things in life again.  I'm glad I never stay down for long.  Thank you for believing for me, for having hope when mine was lost and for sticking by me even though I thought I'd lost myself.

I have been told I have a romantic view of what having a baby will be like and yes, that is true.  I'm pretty sure all soon-to-be mothers probably do but I have always been realistic about it too.  Having seen friends go through some pretty tough times with newborns and toddlers it would be impossible to have an entirely rosy view of life with a baby!  I've even said in previous posts how I try to think of all the things I wouldn't enjoy such as lack of sleep, constant worry, being covered in vomit and poo (and I'm sure there are many, many more challenges to being a mother) when it seems like we will be missing out on so much.  But that's just it.  I've also seen the joy, happiness and magic in people's lives as a result of their children and that's what I'm so afraid I may never get to experience.  The good comes with the bad but I'd still want to be part of the good.  Reading magical comments like those on this post over on Florence Finds can be hard when things are not going well but also remind me that it's a big thing we're going through, whether it works or not, and wanting it isn't just in my head - my body wants it too which makes this so much harder to deal with at times.  I was hormonal and particularly emotional during that very bad week which just made everything seem so much worse.

Sometimes I wonder if we're being spared - perhaps I would have a horrendously difficult pregnancy, or really struggle to cope with being a mother.  I still can't imagine not getting to be a mother though and it's not just the baby stuff I think about.  I do think adoption could bring us happiness but it doesn't take away the grief we feel for the start of family life we thought we'd have.  (I also feel guilty for not just adopting anyway since there are so many children in need of a good home, but that's another post in itself and adoption brings with it so many different challenges which we need to be prepared to face.  We're just not ready for that yet.)  My counsellor has reassured me that everything I have been feeling is totally normal considering what we've been going through and I am not the only one dealing with IVF and having all of these thoughts.  That is one of the reasons why I write about it.  As much as I might cringe when I look back over certain posts, I'm leaving them there because they are utterly honest account of how I feel as we struggle through this time.  Life isn't always happy, even if it may seem from the outside like it should be and although I try not to dwell on things too much, I won't can't ignore the bad times.  I chose to write about IVF, with Nik's permission, and I will always write the full story, warts and all, even if it does make me seem a bit dramatic from time to time!

I guess I just wanted to try to explain myself better, when not in a bad place.  I hate the thought of being misunderstood and would never mean to cause offence to anyone.


Claire said...

Bex, when I first started reading this I was angry, not at you but for you being made to feel this way that you even needed to apologise. This is your journey not those who chose to take your words and put them into their life or their meaning on family. I would presume that those have never been in this position of wanting your own family so much and not being able to have it. That is fine of course, as you quite rightly say they have made that choice and that does not mean that their own family however it is made up is no less important.

They can't however tell you that how you feel is wrong or that your ideal of life for you and Nik is something that you shouldn't be talking about warts and all. If anyone takes offence at this then I feel that they need to take a look at themselves and attempt to show empathy to someone who to be quite honest has gone to a very dark place and I'm proud to say has come back again.

This whole process brings with it emotions and feelings we never knew we had, it brings us to places within ourselves that we never want to experience again. It can be a very unpleasant place to be, but I'm proud of you, I'm proud for how you have faced this even in the very dark days and I'm proud of you for talking about it, too many don't.

I'm sorry for my rambling post but I just wanted to say, please no matter what keep writing! Xx

Amanda said...

Oh Bex, you don't have to feel bad. Infertility can be so isolating, because it seems it is *only* happening to you even if you rationally know it is not the case.
Thanks for your honesty all along, I think posts like these will (or have already) helped someone who is struggling in silence, and that can make such a big difference.
The world needs so much solidarity, and sharing our stories makes us all more human.
I always think of you, and I really wish I could grant you the miracle you wish.
The "just adopt" comments come from ignorance. Adopting is not easy, emotionally, financially or logistically, and I do not think it is for everyone. It is not the responsibility of people who are unlucky enough to be classified as infertile (oh how I hate the term... I would much rather call it subfertility) to adopt all the children of the world or to fix what is wrong in this place while others (who do drugs, smoke, take alcohol in excess) get what we want so desperately without even trying (or wanting it). And let's not talk about people who call the embryo / foetus a parasite... I just can't (but that's another rant).
Anyhow, I am rambling. I just wanted to let you know that we are with you, in thought, in prayers, in hope.
And that the definition of family or "proper family" changes per person, and you are entitled to your *own* definition and to cry for what seems to be slipping away so fast, no matter what you do, in those dark moments. Yearning, wanting a biological child is something so strong and visceral. Regardless of whether adoption may be the path *after* the struggle, it does not erase the part where you get to grieve for what maybe couldn't be (but I hope it will be, with all my might).
You are such a joyful person, no one can blame you for not finding the light. But you can not be all light all the time, full time. And having a bad day, or ten, or a month is necessary. Acknowledging that is doing everyone a favor.
Hugs Bex. We are praying for you .

Joan Hunter Dunn said...

Brilliantly written Bex well done for expressing your thoughts & emotions so clearly. It a little bit reminds me of my many single years & a comment mum made. That I only talked with her about ends of relationships/dating, never the possibilities & beginnings. We all tend to need to talk when we're in the despair & forget to share when we're back in the okay, or maybe even happy place. Wishing you all the very very best xx

Anonymous said...

Agree with the other commenters. You shouldn't have to apologise for voicing your feelings.
You have coped amazingly with what has been thrown at you through this whole process.
having spent 18 months trying to conceive before we got lucky I have some insight to your feelings, and identify fully with lots of what you say. i just wish I had been as brave as you to talk about it more!
Anyone who has misunderstood the meaning of some of your comments and chosen to pull you up on that is not showing empathy. This is a tough thing you are dealing with, and you are entitled to be emotional and dramatic. It is emotional and dramatic!
Lots of love, Ali x

Penny said...

Same as Claire I feel really cross that you had to worry about somebody else's issues on top of your own. So we're just supposed to stop talking about our feelings in case somebody gets the hump? FFS. People are entitled to their own responses but have the empathy to respect someone else's journey. It makes me EVEN MORE cross because it was this kind of reaction that I was scared of and what silenced me for so long when we were struggling, to the extent of not even talking to my own mum about our fertility treatment until we were quite far into the process. I wish I'd had someone like you around at that time (well you were, but you know what I mean!! at that stage) talking frankly about it to inspire me and make me feel less alone. I might not seem like a mouse-like person but when it comes to stuff like this I vanish inside myself at the first sign of difficulty. You're the lesson in how to reach out and make yourself stronger by accepting support and accepting yourself that I wish I'd had. You're a hero to me Bex, you really are. I hope beyond hope you get your dream because you will make a wonderful mum. You are certainly a wonderful friend.


Crysta said...

This may turn out to be a long comment...sorry!

Bex, your feelings and the way you expressed them in the previous post were perfectly legitimate. You had a right to feel the way you felt, to grieve for something that you thought was lost and none of it was dramatic. You weren't offensive at all. Why should you consider adoption right that second? Corey and I have discussed these issues since near to the start of our relationship, and I've said I'd be happy to adopt if it came to that. But I know that if I was in the position you were in at the time of writing that post that I would be just as devestated. That I wouldn't want to thing about any other ways. Instead I'd want to go home and hide under a blanket, sob my eyes out and just be upset. You have such incredible strength to keep going the way you have, but sometimes we all need to fall apart and other people have to let us, without making us feel bad for doing so. You handled the experience just the way you needed to at the time.

As for rose tinted glasses with regards to babies and children - I have about as much experience as someone whose not had children can. I've had sleepless nights, dealt with poo on the living room floor, been weed on and gone to school with sick all down my skirt unknowingly. I've looked after screaming babies that are screaming for no aparent reason. Not just one, but two at a time (my twin cousins live just down the road and I babysat during school holidays). I've helped deal with partial thickness second degree burns, accidental paracetamol overdoses and all sorts. I know the reality, but I still have a romantic view of what it would be like to have a child, because I've also experienced the joys. So, hold onto your romantic view. And I'll keep everything crossed for you and Nik.

Sorry for the long, rambly comment. I'm a firm believer that blogs are for people to express themselves in whatever way they need and want to. Your tone has never been offensive, you've never said anything upsetting. I'm forever in awe at the honesty of your writing and the fact that you're willing to share with us what has been such a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Again, sorry for the long ramble!

Unknown said...

I don't comment here often (definitely as often as I should!) but I agree so much with what all the other commenters are saying. Not only are the feelings you've been having totally legitimate and wholly understandable, but the way you phrased them in your previous post was heartfelt, honest and eloquent. I'm so glad that things are currently looking more promising and I truly hope that you've got some joy coming in your near future! x

Elaine said...

It's such a shame you have felt the need to make an apology after such a deeply personal post. I really admire your honesty and I hope this doesn't prevent you from expressing how you feel in the future. I have never met you and yet I say a wee prayer for you, cross my fingers for you, feel happy for you etc etc and that is because of your honest, down to earth posts. Wishing you all the best x

Amanda M said...

Like others have said, you shouldn't have to feel you should apologise. This is YOUR blog and you shouldn't have to self-censor. Raw emotion and finding some sort of outlet for your pain - well who can criticise that. We love you being honest and true and ungilded. Please continue as Bex - not someone else's idea of Bex.

angybabi said...

I can't believe you feel you have to justify your heartfelt comments during your absolutely heartwrenching 2ww. IMO it's way WAY above and beyond necessary and I'm so sorry you felt the need to have to do that.

I've not been in your situation, and have no wise nuggets to give to you, but I'm absolutely rooting for you guys. I wish you only the very best, and look forward to hearing good news in the future, however it pans out for your family. xxx

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