Recognizing Trauma within infertility

Its not just the treatments that cause trauma there are many more aspects with infertility that are trauma based and in this post we explore them.

My last post was almost 6 months ago. I was pretty good on writing and being on top of it, but after the last IVF transfer didn’t work I got pretty shook up and angry. All the meditations and Vypassana Silent retreats didn’t help me. We do need to recognize the fact that there is trauma with infertility – the in ability to be fertile on our own.

1. RE-TRAUMA. There is a double edge sword of telling the world your story. 

When you are open to the world about your story you keep retelling it and re-traumitizing yourself. Do you recognize that this is the case? Every time you tell your story, your emotions, feelings and memories that are stored in your body come up and you feel like you are in the moment. Its like victims of abuse who need to retell their story over an over and over again. Whenever I had to retell my story of all the things I’ve done toeither a friend or a professional, I could feel my brain and my body sinking into that trauma part of my brain. I felt like I was reliving parts of everything. When I’m not talking about it, I’m fine, as soon as I need to launch into the story of “what is going on” then its like my brain retreats back to those centres. I know it affects me, re-telling my story over and over again, as the effects afterwards cause me to feel angry and completely triggered by the situation. This is one traumatizing aspect of infertility.

2. MONEY – Lets face it, money in itself is traumatizing, how do we get more money, how do we pay the bills on a every day basis, now add how you are going go pay for a baby. 

Its such a traumatic thing, you think you are paying into something ($25,000 Canadian) and are expecting a return, but there maybe no return on your investment. This shakes me every time I think about it. I have better chances at a Casino. This is a big traumatizing aspect of infertility. THIS has the ability to split couples.

3. THE STORIES OF HOPE 

These I hate the most.

Somehow I get on the topic of fertility with a person and they lay their hand on me very sincerely, look me in the eye with what *they* think is empathy and the usual story tells of some tragic fertility version and then a miracle happens. It usually sound like this, “I know my neighbour who tried for 6 years. She  plus she had endometriosis and cancer as a child and they told her she was infertile and she got pregnant. If she did it then you can too”. The flash with of anger when I hear these types of stories as I find them LACKING EMPATHY. Its like being hit open handed in the face. Its not hope. Its a bunch of bullshit where the message behind the “hopeful bullshit story” is that I shouldn’t worry, my problems are not that bad and a miracle will happen. This is honestly traumatizing because the question that comes to mind is, what did THEY DO that I’m not doing?

Even if that person had fertility issues is telling me the story, I don’t care, your story of hope isn’t my story so telling me your story of “HOPE” thinking you are helping me, please stop, its not. Period. Even my Social Worker who runs a fertility support group had fertility issues tell me her story doesn’t give me any hope. These stories don’t give me hope because they are not me and my reality. It doesn’t tell me what I could do better.

I’m happy to swap stories and strategies you’ve used, what doctor you saw and what helped you, but don’t tell me, “Don’t worry you’ll get there” just because you’ve crossed to the other side.

Infertility is traumatic. In addition to depression symptoms, it is quite common that couples experiencing infertility will experience anxiety in response to certain situations or triggers (such as seeing pregnant women, pregnancy tests, babies on TV or in person, etc.). They may experience intense emotion around certain times of the month, particularly the times near ovulation and when a period is due.

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4. Random Trauma: A wedding was my trauma trigger

Apart from the usual triggers listed above, the trauma of infertility can come from places we never expected. We were so excited to go to a friend’s wedding, as it was long and anticipated. We had received the invitation in August of 2017 and the wedding was October 2017. I bought a very beautiful dress, planned the outfit and off we drove to another city for 4 hours to attend this wedding.

Of course the wedding was perfect. It was small, quaint and very family oriented. The parents of the bride were there and I was looking forward to dancing the night way in my comfy shoes, that is, until…..

THE MOMENT.

We were sitting at the back of the small reception room at a round table all facing the front listening to the speeches. The first set of parents went up and spoke and then the second parents went up and said beautiful things about their child and showed a video of childhood photos. It was so moving and sweet. I felt my brain shift and crack. I tried shaking it off by going to the washroom but it was too late.

Till this day I can feel this black veil that came out of nowhere and knocked me off my feet. The thought lit up in my mind like a shinny ad on New York’s Times Square with the letters spelling: You may never experience this. This this day so many months later those 4 words sting. And I was done. Cold Play’s lyrics from the song “Fix You” became my mind’s background music and the tears just came streaming down my face…..Its like loosing something you cannot replace. I could even hear the voice of the main singer Chris Martin whining those words into my ears. My energy just became off and all I wanted to do was crawl underneath that round table with the white table cloth and hide. I smiled so politely at my friend the bride and lied straight to her face when she came up to me later asking if I’m Ok. Holding my tears I lied through my teeth and said, “I was incredibly moved by the speeches”. Lie. Lie. Lie. The rest of the night I pretended to dance and forcibly remove that veil off of me, but it didn’t happen. As I retell this story, I’m right there. The trauma of the moment is right there with me.

Triggers can seem unrelated or random but still have a profound effect on the emotional reaction of the people going through this difficult situation. For many, infertility feels like riding an emotional roller coaster of anticipation, worry, sadness, grief, and anger.

When someone is experiencing infertility, negative beliefs about one’s inadequacyor defectiveness may come up.

5. The trauma of “it is free for everyone else, so why not me?”. 

Its in those moments that you least expect that bring up the trauma of not just about your body, but about everything around it. Not accepting your diagnosis, not being able to bring yourself to go to another acupuncture treatment. The unwillingness to change your diet or do anything else that would require you to change your lifestyle. This brings so much resentment towards the whole thing. Its supposed to be free so why am I forced to pay for it. Why should I stop eating sugar? Why I need to change everything when “crack babies” are still being born.

Denying that there is anything wrong. Just stuffing it down deeper. I have a hard time accepting that there is something wrong with me just because my diagnosis says so. I don’t believe there is anything wrong with me thats why I want this to be free and on my own terms. This lack of being able to use my body and have it function the way its supposed to filters through on other parts. The inadequacy. The feeling of failure. The feeling of being stuck. Its everything my life. I feel stuck in a job I can’t quit till I find something else but I can’t find a job because I don’t feel adequate so I look for a low paying customer service job. I don’t believe I will achieve financial success beyond my small little goal, because why, I don’t deserve it. It just filters through. Denying grief.

6. The Trauma of the advice: Change your mindset

The worst advice I have ever received was believe it and it will happen. Well I don’t believe that I can’ actually get pregnant and the story of “Hope” (see above) isn’t helping. Then I think, maybe I don’t want any this family and baby business, but immediately my

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body signals to me that is a lie. A way of self preservation of the fact that nothing has happened. A way for me to preserve some mental sanity. If my mindset was to be on point then it would have happened last year between May and August. My belief was strong. How many times have a I heard just stop thinking about it. I have stopped thinking about it and it still hasn’t happened.

It is hard to believe that my body is actually able to have a pregnancy when in the last 5 years it never once did. Read that again. NEVER EVER EVER. 

7. The Trauma of a “Past life”. 

This one gets me going because it doesn’t actually solve anything. A spiritual guru comes to you and says they know the problem and it comes from a past life. I believe in reincarnation but saying that I had a problem in the past life and now I have to fix the past life in order to create life is complete bullshit. There is nothing that I can do in present current life to go back and  talk to ‘said past life’ and tell it to move on and get going. It putting blame on things so beyond reach and human possibility. I just have no words for this type of thing.

8. Your partner’s trauma

Your partner has trauma except he may not express it. I have tried to get hubby to express it but its so deeply repressed that it a cork I’m having a hard time uncorking. It affect him. Its like us walking through the Green Living Show and him stopping and looking at baby clothes. Its not that we both get up and think about it all the time, but this thing, shows up in different ways. Pregnant women, strollers, Toys R Us, children or  other objects don’t seem to move us, but a simple piece of clothing does. It moves him.

Final thoughts.

I may just add to the list about but my point is that that I have recognized that the trauma of infertility stops at the fertility clinic. Even when you stop going or someone says to you ‘take a break’ (I’ve been on a break for the last 6 months) it doesn’t go away. Its a train.

Once you get on the fertility train, destination, “Baby/Family”, its very difficulty to get off it before you make it to the destination.  Eva Braveheart.


When you try your best but you don’t succeed
When you get what you want but not what you need
When you feel so tired but you can’t sleep
Stuck in reverse
When the tears come streaming down your face
‘Cause you lose something you can’t replace
When you love someone but it goes to waste
What could it be worse?
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
But high up above or down below
When you are too in love to let it show
Oh but if you never try you’ll never know
Just what you’re worth
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
Tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you cannot replace
oh and tears come streaming down your face
And I
Tears streaming down your face
I promise you I will learn from all my mistakes
oh and the tears streaming down your face
And I
Lights will guide you home
And ignite your bones
And I will try to fix you
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“You should’ve asked” A pictorial on women’s mental load and the work they do

Just to change it up this week, lets talk about women’s mental load. While the fertility community is wrapped up in creating babies, the conversation that should be started at the same time and reviewed is what happens to women after the babes are here. When I went to a naturopath three years ago to look into why I’m not getting pregnant, I was intrigued that she started the conversation of, “why do you want to have children, is this because you want to or because you are supposed to do”. While a controversial question, and probably many women would be taken aback [‘why are you asking this just fix me and not question my motivation] I think it’s a valid question and so needed.

It took me ten long years to get to the answer of “yes, this is for me”, but still in my dark days wrapped up in the scope of fertility treatments, I asked myself who is this really for and if I’m fulfilling some need or just doing it because that’s what family wants?

I do look at this cartoon and hope for the best. I don’t know if I could go through another round of treatment and my head is coming around to the fact that I think I would be Ok with one genetic offspring and are open to adopting an older child, like a teen.

The workload for women never does stop.

I am grateful right now that I don’t have a care in the world and sometimes imagine what it would mean to take care of another human being 24/7. My body tells me that I think I could do one, but more then one would be overwhelming.

Let’s make sure to discuss expectations we have of each other as a couple before the baby come or before even the pregnancy. After all, if my big thing is balance and good mental health, then setting up expectations beforehand would save a lot of arguments and meltdowns.

I hope that with the looming embryo transfer that is coming up Husband and I can take a look at this cartoon below and have a very good deep conversation.

Please make sure to comment below about your thoughts. Feedback is always appreciated!

Emma

Here is the english version of my now famous “Fallait demander” !

Thanks Una from unadtranslation.com for the translation 🙂

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InFertility and self-care. Sometimes I just need to stop and enjoy my coffee.

I realize that we all just need to sometimes just stop, go for coffee and laugh at the insanity of it all.  I mean, life is insanity. Honestly, don’t we all just need to stop, have a coffee, indulge in the most gluten, dairy, sugar filled pastry ever and go see people who know you better than you know yourself? I have two people like that outside of my usual support network. They happen all do acupuncture. 

Yesterday, I messaged Saviour Stephanie and asked her if she could see me. She has known me for over 8 years from the time I couldn’t walk because my sciatic nerve caused me to stop walking. I don’t think she would like the name I gave her but this is how I feel walking into her room. It’s a sanctuary on the 7th floor in the middle of downtown Toronto. A crazy, taxi, car and pedestrian-filled space. Stephanie used to be on the other side of the street, but then they started to build a condo and blast through the ground. She packed up her bags and moved across the street to an office building, but you wouldn’t know it once you enter her door. A simple massage table, her bookshelf, some relaxing music in the background and Stephanie’s welcoming smile offering the tea of the day. She is the one that saved me when I was down with such bad sciatica that I couldn’t get up and walk. She knows me. She knows more about me than I know about myself.

I wrote her that I would like to see her because I would like to come back home where I don’t associate acupuncture with it being a procedure. She, her room and the massage table bed are my home.

I deliberately kept Stephanie out of the fertility acupuncture rounds because she is my sanctuary. I go there and she just listens. She is just so in tune and knows me so well I don’t need to explain.

She sees my spirit and my soul. When she is working I can feel her sinking deeper between all the layers of my skin and connecting with my being. Can you just feel her magical presence with you right now? She advertises her herself as shiatsu and acupuncture, but that’s just the outside sign. Don’t be fooled by the cover. It took me a while to understand that she is so much more than that but when I got it, wow, was I ever grateful.

What I would really like is for the clinic to take care of me and not just my body, but the other parts of me as well. The SELF. The mental health piece. The part of me that you can’t see. That such an unrealistic expectation but I can dream, right? I need to go find my balance outside of The Clinic. I’m happy when Husband comes with me to the clinic because I think my brain sometimes goes into fight or flight mode at times, especially when I see the nurses who just follows follow directions and don’t think. Can people think for themselves?!

Saviour Stephanie put me on the table and put the needles in.

She calms my nervous system down from the fight/flight response. She just knows what to use and my body just sinks into her table. I repeat my mantra in my head. I’m safe. I’m safe. I can release and be at ease. I’m safe. On cue, my body and mind sink deeply and safely into her hands. Stephanie works diligently away, with movements so small that for someone who would be watching her, wouldn’t know she is doing work. Her Cranial Sacral work and her hands are liquid gold. A gentle soul who knows exactly what to do with every slight muscle movement she knows and understands the psycho-somatic memory my body has stored.

After Stephanie, I head to my favourite coffee shop and have a Cortada with a brownie and a view of Toronto. Today I stopped and sat in my favourite coffee shop and are grateful I have this medical leave so I can take time out as well as see Stephanie last-minute and be writing this out. How I love this view from Rooster Cafe and how much I just love these kinds of memories.

I think of all the people who I have talked to about this journey and that are reading this blog. From China, Saudi Arabia, Poland, South Africa, Kenya, Australia. A subject that crosses all international boarders. With all of this, I hope I have changed some views on IVF and fertility and redefining what a “mother” and a “woman” is. It is not just me bearing a child.

I think of my team of people who I assembled who are helping me on this journey and all of sudden everything is OK.

My personal trainer Calum Shaw says,”There is so much more to us than personal training because there is so much more to you than being out of shape”. He does more than just personal training. He knows there is more to training than working the muscles. He works on the whole being, just like Stephanie.

I put my hands on my heart and thank it for the life it gives me. I feel my breathe and thank it for the gift of life. Oh my gosh, it’s so important to stop.

Today I just needed to breathe and enjoy my coffee.

Today I’m just grateful.

All my love to anyone reading this.

xoxo