Sometimes I wake up in the morning, drag myself to the bathroom, look in the mirror and question whether I have in fact woken up at all! Dull, pale skin, hair like Einstein and a struggle to actually see my eyeballs it can often be both a horrifying and worrying sight! It’s definitely me stood in the bathroom but looking at my own reflection, I see a person I don’t recognise, daren’t believe is me and someone I’d prefer not to look like at all
In a funny sort of way, it was this kind of feeling that used to hit me a lot whilst struggling with Secondary Infertility. Not so much looking beastly first thing in the morning (though with weeks of IVF injections I’ve looked better!), but more with the feeling that I don’t recognise myself. I saw myself, I heard myself but I wasn’t sure…..was it really me?
I didn’t like the person I had become. I struggled with some of the thoughts that I’d find myself thinking. I was shocked that I turned into someone who could feel such anger and jealousy, especially when directed towards others!
That wasn’t the person I was brought up to be, nor wanted to be. It wasn’t the person I was 99% of the time. But apparently, this new me, whether I liked who I was or not, was real.
Physically I looked the same, outwardly my personality hid what I felt and thought, but inside was almost an erupting volcanic brew of spite, jealousy and rage.
Pregnancy announcements, my period arriving, a colleague on maternity, anything that reminded me of my inability to conceive a sibling for my boy, could trigger the beastly inner me. The rage-fuelled horrid and unfair thoughts about others and then gave way to deep grief as despair through me.
I was ashamed of my thoughts. I didn’t like what seemed to come naturally, couldn’t control the feelings and often hated the fact that I seemed to have developed both an angry and grief-stricken core. It wasn’t healthy, but it was uncontrollable. Throughout all my fertility treatment, apart from getting pregnant, if I could have changed one thing it would have been to have gone through it all without those hidden voices that tormented and hurt me.
I knew that nobody else’s good fortune could impact my fate and knew that there isn’t a quota on babies so other pregnancies didn’t stop me from conceiving. I also realised quite early on that there could be joy found in celebrating someone else’s pregnancy or birth news, pleased to know that they are not feeling the pain of infertility. I was also fully aware that I was hugely blessed lucky and satisfied to have a child and that I already had what so many other childless couples still prayed for. Most of the time.
There was always that 1% when I lost it. Lost all sense of sanity, lost that will to stay strong and lost control of my own positive, sensible thoughts and feelings. I rarely shouted, I was never vocal and perhaps it was this silent pain that made it hurt all the more. How could I feel such anger at my situation when I already had a child? I could see faces of those I loved look quizzically at me, right before they tried to comfort me with “well at least you have Zac”, or “you’re so lucky to have him”. It made me rage even more.
Unfortunately, my experience told me you can’t really ever banish the new inner beast, but I did learn that you could try to tame it. Find one friend you trust, tell them you need to use them to vent, to forget all you say, don’t react and positively get rid of all the negative feelings and thoughts in this safe environment.
Laugh. Laughter is one of the best medicines so don’t get scared of this new side of you, don’t beat yourself up. Laugh at how mad your thoughts are, how silly you sound to yourself and let a light-hearted view try to dilute the venom you feel.
Tell yourself it’s OK, it’s normal and everyone in your situation is battling a new inner self they too don’t recognise. You’re not going mad, you’re not losing your sanity and you really aren’t the horrid person, your own mind is trying to convince you that you are.
Share your story. Isolation is one of the crippling feelings affecting those struggling with Secondary Infertility, with couples too afraid to admit how sad and angry they feel with their situation for fear or accusations of greed and being ungrateful. Admitting how you feel or felt, to someone else in that situation, will not only exorcise your demons but will also be a great comfort to them.
Treat yourself. Have that glass of wine, a block of chocolate or long soak in the bath. Forget low GI diets, fertility boosting foods and all the health or fitness hacks for once. Looking after you, the real you and nourishing that wonderful positive spirit within will most certainly ensure your 99%, the real wonderful you, outshines that hidden 1%!