My husband and I have been trying for a baby for two and a half years now, and have lost three along the way. During this time there have been massive highs and even bigger lows, which we’ve managed to deal with, but I find sometimes the hardest thing to deal with is day to day – just getting out of bed, plodding along, waiting for the next part of the cycle. So i’ve put together a list of things which help me out, day to day. These are in no particular order, but I hope that some of them help:
1 – Accept the bad days
One thing which still shocks me is how one minute I’m ok – getting on with life, making plans, at work etc – then the next minute I’m an emotional mess, in floods of tears. Sometimes there’s a reason for this (baby/miscarriage related) and sometimes there isn’t – it just hits me and no amount of rational thinking/talking can help me – I just go to pieces. Some of this is down to my medication I expect, but you know what – it’s ok. I accept that some days I’m going to feel like shit and that’s just how it is. I’ve been trying for bloody years to have a baby, and have gone through three miscarriages, so you know what – its ok to feel like this sometimes. So if you feel like this at times, don’t beat yourself up over it. Do something nice for yourself, whether that’s a bath and a good cry, a walk outside or an early night, just do whatever you can to get through it and know that tomorrow will hopefully be a bit better.
2 – Remember that it’s not all about you
I’ve been guilty of doing this a lot in the last couple of years, and am really trying to be better. Even though you are struggling, your partner is too, so remember that. I’ve found trying for a baby and losing babies to be quite an isolating and very personal experience – maybe because its my body that it happened to, or because it’s my body which is the problem (my husband’s sperm is exceptional, apparently!), but I feel the whole situation very personally, and react by going into my shell (I’m a Cancerian too, go figure) and shutting people out, including my husband. Part of this is probably guilt too, because I haven’t been able to give him the baby which he wants as badly as I do.
But – your partner is upset too. They want a baby, they hate seeing you upset, and they probably get far less support than you do, because its not directly happening to their body. So when you’re feeling down – try and think about them, and think what would be a nice thing to do for them maybe. Whether its a day out for them with their friends, or a date night, or just making them their favourite meal for dinner – just try and think of them and do something nice. And you’ll probably find that when you think about them and their feelings, you’ll feel less upset about yourself, which can only be a good thing all round.
3 – Get outside
This is a simple one, but it always works for me. It’s the hardest thing to do sometimes, but just getting outside for a walk will always lift my spirits. It doesn’t have to be anywhere amazing, just a walk round the block can help, but I try and look at all the lovely things around me – the birds, the trees, the feel of the wind on my face – and try to be thankful for them. It’s bloody hard to be thankful when you’re on this journey, but I have my health, a loving husband and family, and a good life overall, so I remind myself of these things and how lucky I am to have them. It might sound like a cliché, but life is short, so try and be thankful for what you have, even though you’re wishing for that bit more.
4 – Plan ahead and tempt fate
One thing which has been a nightmare throughout this journey is knowing what you can and can’t plan, ahead of time. Whether it’s holidays, days out, trips to see friends, I’ve found myself checking my fertility timings first and more often than not, putting things off ‘just in case’. This is especially true nowadays, as I have monthly ovulation scans, then the ‘will I or won’t I sleep’ joys of 10 days on steroids, then the early pregnancy test fun from 10 days past ovulation until I get my period. Great. But you know what – if you want to do something, just do it. What’s the worst that can happen – you fall pregnant and can’t go? It’s a win-win situation! So book that holiday, go see your friend, having lovely things to look forward to will always help, and it saves your diary being full of only scans, tests and medications.
5 – Find a BFF (Best Fertility Friend)
Unfortunately, there are lots of us walking this road together. But the beauty of the internet is that it brings us together, even people with very specific stories/experiences. Through my blog I have found a woman with an almost identical story to mine, and she is also seeing the same specialist as me for treatment. Honestly, you couldn’t make it up! We have been lucky enough to meet up and become firm friends who can share our worries, journey and excitement, all the time knowing that we understand exactly how the other feels, as we’ve been through the same experiences. I’m so grateful for her and for the bond that we share.
In my experience, most regular friends will try their best to be supportive and compassionate, but they just don’t understand the complexities of my situation and can often say the wrong thing/be scared and instead say nothing at all. I don’t get angry with them for this, I wouldn’t know what the hell to say if I hadn’t been through all of this, so I don’t try and explain, I just get on with being their friend and keep the baby talk to a minimum.
Even if you cant find a BFF near you to meet up with, see if you can find a blog from someone with a similar story to yours and make contact with them. Even a text, email or phone call from someone who totally understands can make the world of difference if you’re struggling, and knowing that you can be there for someone else too is a wonderful feeling.
6 – Be nice to your body
This is an obvious one, but one which can be easily forgotten. There are absolutely some days when all you can manage to eat is a pizza, chips and then a family size bar of chocolate – that’s ok. But it’s a sad fact that if you eat loads of crap, you’ll feel like crap, so definitely allow yourself these days, but for your mental state as well as your body, try and put good food into your body whenever you can.
7 – Don’t torture yourself unnecessarily
There’s a show on British TV called ‘One Born Every Minute’ which shows babies being born in hospital, with a bit about the parents and their journey to parenthood as well. I LOVE this show, but watching it always makes me cry, as it reminds me of what we’ve been through and makes me wonder if we’ll ever have our own baby. I record it when it’s on, then watch it on my own (I wouldn’t subject my poor husband to graphic birth scenes!), and inevitably bawl my eyes out, but recently I’ve wondered – what the hell am I doing?! Yes, it’s a lovely show, but why watch something which I know will upset me? So now I don’t watch it, I just stick to things which make me feel better instead.
It might sound obvious, but we all have our triggers – TV shows, christenings, baby showers, facebook – so think about what yours are, then do your best to minimise the pain. It might be blocking pregnant friends on facebook so you’re not bombarded with scans, updates and pregnancy complaints (I’ve certainly done this and it definitely helps), or politely declining an invite to a baby shower if you don’t feel up to it. But the bottom line is that self-preservation is so important on this journey, so be polite in how you do this, remembering that not everyone understands what you’re going through, and save yourself the upset wherever you can.
8 – Stand up for yourself
You know your own body, feelings and needs better than anyone, so don’t be afraid to push for what you need. Sadly, time is never really on our side on this journey, so make that appointment with the doctor, research your situation and ask for what you need to help your situation improve. Don’t be baffled by science, or rushed out of the doctor’s office without the help you need – ask your questions, however silly you feel, and keep asking until you get what you need. I’ve had to learn so much about things that I had no clue about, but all of it has helped me to get what I hope is the right treatment for my body, and even though it has been frustrating that doctors haven’t helped me much, I feel better that I educated myself and wasn’t afraid to keep going until I got the help that I needed.
9 – Try alternative therapies
I have reflexology every couple of weeks or so and find it so helpful. I have no idea if it actually does anything for my situation, but it’s my time for myself to get in tune with myself, relax and think positive thoughts about my body and what it’s trying to do.
A lot of these treatments can be expensive, but many local colleges offer massages, reflexology and other therapies for a fraction of the price. Or have a look online to see if there are any offers near you. Just having that time for yourself to focus on your body and what you are trying to do really is lovely.
10 – Remember who you are
This is probably one of the most important points for me.
Before our miscarriages, I was fun, carefree, healthy and excited for the future with my new husband. Nowadays I look in the mirror and sometimes I hardly recognise the person looking back at me. My skin is pale and slightly gaunt, my face hairy from PCOS and steroids, and I have a sadness in my eyes and my tone which I can’t ever really seem to shake. It pains me to see how much I’ve aged and changed with the losses, drugs, waiting and sadness of the last few years.
But you know what – FUCK THAT. I am not just a woman who is struggling to have a baby, I am a friend, a daughter, a wife and a pretty decent human being. So despite all that I’ve been through, I make time to put on my make up, get dressed and get out there and enjoy my life. It’s not about masking my feelings, if I’m sad I’m sad and I let myself feel like that for a while, but I try and remember the fun things that I enjoy – girly days out with my friends, holidays with my husband and the comfort of spending time with my family – and do them whenever I can.
So remember this about yourself too – you are alive and loved and there is so much more to you than all the crap of this journey. Do what you love and what makes you happy.