Sunday, 17 June 2012

Surviving Fathers Day...

Surviving Fathers day

Although “we” were pregnant for 7 weeks (4 of them unwittingly so), no matter which way I look at it I am not a father, and the likelihood sadly is that I will never be.  So Father’s day should be horrifying, right?

After spending just shy of a third of my life TTC I have the benefit of time to reconcile myself to my not being a father.  Thankfully this explicit celebration of fatherhood takes place just once a year and so my lack in this regard is not so noticeable on a regular and public basis!

I recognise the challenge such a day presents the infertile man, or couple, and I too have felt terrible on father’s day.  That said I have to confess to being very comfortable with father’s day.

Fortunately my Dad has been great.  I know I am blessed to have been raised by a man I can look up to, love and respect, the same is not true for everyone.  I am happy to put my celebration of him and others like him ahead of my (sometime overwhelming) desire to have been a Dad.  In the UK in particular we are so ashamed of celebrating people and telling others the love we feel for them, that I do not want to stand in the way of such a positive day.

I don’t begrudge loving, caring fathers their day of recognition and treats, being a father is hard work and they deserve it. 

Can it still sting - yes!  Do I sometimes avoid church - yes (did I this year – yes!)! Do I limit my contact to family at such a time - most of the time, yes!

It is not Father’s day I find the most challenging but rather the oh-so-casual ignorance of our (unexplained) infertility.  The all too regular occasions when it is overlooked, for example being unthinkingly side-lined from a Godsons birthday party, being told I am lucky I get to lie in, this is when I am made acutely aware of my infertility, this is when it really stings. 

What has hurt me the most has been people’s lack of thought and care along the way 365 days , not just on father’s day.


It's too late; the dinner of my grief is left out in the cold. Cold like your comfort.  Tasteless and unwanted.

 You have your slice of happiness, enjoy it but forgive me if I look on in scornful envy, I'm on a diet.

 There's no use being sensitive now, now you realise for yourselves the happiness we held, and dropped down the toilet.

 You were late, "late for a very important date".
1 year after our miscarriage and having just got pregnant one of our very best friends finally realised how special it was to be pregnant and what we had been through as a result of both our infertility and miscarriage, they were, in my opinion, a little late in realising this!

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Communicate. It really is that simple. Or is it just me….?

When I started to Blog I thought I would write with an overwhelming sense of positivity, a bright beacon of hope in the blogosphere, infertility cast in a new light!

However my writing has coincided with our very last throw of the dice on our infertility journey, and 10 years in, I find myself going through a blow by blow face off with the realities of infertility and the impact it has had on my DW and I.  In short this blog is helping me make sense of it all.

 I have confronted my  issues or feelings head on in order  to try and exorcise them, to take away the fear that they may haunt me in the future  don’t worry this is a controlled experiment undertaken with the support of an experienced and specialised infertility counsellor to light the way and check my marbles en route!!

This week my self-help therapy was  sparked by my not being invited for (the second year running) to the 2nd birthday party of my godson, it suddenly dawned on me that I have never been to a child’s birthday party (as an adult) and I have never held a new born baby.

 “Poor me”, can you hear the violins playing as I sulk my way through the day…? 

Hold on a minute though!  I am not so sure that it is actually self-pity driving my deep sense of regret.  Both these experiences are fundamental to the the cycle of life, its natural cycle.  To not take part in them is to miss out and is likely to make even the sturdiest of men sad. 

 I would add too that I am not so naive as to think that this only applies to the infertile amongst us.  I feel horrible for my single friends many of whom are also by consequence “infertile”, and furthermore lonelier than I who is blessed with a brilliant wife.

 As I felt a growing sense  of sadness I instinctively felt I should pay attention to how I was feeling.  As I really got to know and to confront the issue I was suddenly surprised, what I hadn’t banked on was discovering… anger.  Specifically anger at my friends and family.

 I realised I have been harbouring anger against those around us who have hidden their joy from us, who have made countless decision on my behalf usually to save their own embarrassment because of a problem that afflicts US, not THEM! I realised it is not normal to not have met our “best friends” babies until they were months old or to have not been invited to our nieces  and nephews birthday parties, sentimental but important and exciting landmarks in a little life.  Maybe it would be a delight to hold a newly born child just days old, I would love to know how their skin feels and to discover this magical smell that new borns are rumoured to have!

 Infertility causes you to be brave, you just have to suck it up, therefore others awkwardness on your behalf is all the more grating as it pulls you lower than you have fought to climb.  We may have risen above our circumstance, but still, failing to acknowledge our accomplishment, others choose to decide just how far they think you have risen , – “we couldn’t possible invite them it would be just too hard for them”.

 If you are fertile yourself and you are reading this, leave your cowardice and guilt behind and simply involve others in the joy of your children by giving others the option before you make the decision for them. 

Communicate.  It really is that simple.  Or is it just me….?


If you sit still, quiet, smiling, for long enough (10 years) they might not notice.

It’s more comfortable to not notice, and they are ever so appreciative of you not ever bringing it up.

One time he noticed - “you’re so lucky you know, lying in each weekend”

I rather wish he hadn’t noticed, least of all commented.  Prompted by my longing for this excruciating moment to pass I issue myself clear orders.  “Move on, and remember….. smile”.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Infertility is not ok

It’s not ok.

You can’t convince me otherwise.

 “A friend of my sisters hairdresser got pregnant after 8 years, isn’t that amazing? Don’t you think it’s amazing…?”

Gorging on my need to please, to not embarrass the other I agree, politely, “That IS amazing, how old is the child now? How lovely!”

 Later I count the day of the month, the day of her cycle, the days until we next try, the years we have been trying and wonder how many times we must have “tried”.

Its nearly 600.  Others are always so curious to know but daren’t ever ask, so there it is, nearly 600.

600 is not ok.   Infertility is not ok.


Living with and through(unexplained) infertility is not ok.  That isn’t to say that they aren’t worse things to suffer, because there are, and it isn’t to say that life becomes pointless, because it doesn’t.  But still, its not ok.

After 10 years I am not depressed as such, I do have a hope and an excitement for the future but just now things are a little harder.  My “normal” just isn’t antwhere as buoyant as it used to be.

For me where we are very much at the end of this journey to conceive (ttc) I am daily challenged by looking back at the last 10 years trying to work out what the heck it was all about (angry), to grieve in the now for the child we might never meet and the miscarriage we suffered (sad), whilst also adjusting to a potential future without children (insecure).  Dependant on the day, life is lived through one of these filters.

Going through life feeling either angry sad or insecure undoubtedly impacts my daily outlook.  It requires courage and commitment to choose to look ahead and not give up on yourself. 

Life carries on with or without you and there may come a point at which you look around and realise that in fact it moved on without you.  This moment came for me about 6-12 months ago.  I was shocked that we had only one or two friends who didn’t now have children or by how many people we had simply drifted out of contact with, I was shocked to realise my first nephew was going to Senior School.  Life had moved on. 

Somewhere in the fog I had been left behind sitting on the kerb, frankly unable, and perhaps unwilling, to keep moving on.

This moment brought home the reality that to pick myself up, and keep myself up, I would have to live a disciplined life.  Daily I would have to choose to be in touch with my feelings and the consequential impact they were having particularly on my relationships with others. 

Life with infertility has introduced a level of self-analysis and awareness that most don’t have to employ in order to function.  Infertility has slowed life down, I don’t have the capacity for other people that I used to and I now feel a pressure to appear positive and engaging when I do venture out in case my innate sense of vulnerability is sniffed out.

After 10 years I have concluded that infertility is not OK.  It does not feel in any way pleasant and I have not enjoyed any part of it.  Infertility is a silent thief, it is undermining and belittling.  It is not ok.

However, I have also learned after 10 years that I need not be afraid of eyeballing the lows and taking them head on, these are not the real enemy.  The real enemy comes in the form of a creeping sense of self pity.  This, whilst inevitable and entirely understandable, I find corrosive.  It is the rust that seizes up your joints, that quietly grinds you to a halt until you awake one day and realise that you can’t remember when you last laughed out loud.  My creeping shadow of self pity must be kept at bay through discipline and a keen sense of proportion - and a helpful dose of hugs from my DW and the occasional prod in the ribs!

It’s not ok but we will survive it and we will find our “new normal”.  In the early years I was determined not to be defined by our infertility.  Since, and with time I now appreciate that whilst it won’t define me (unless I let it) it will shape me, but maybe I have a choice as to the shape.