One of the most delicate areas of work that I have the privilege of working with parents in, is in the realms of conception, pregnancy and birth. I have often considered the fine line between life and death. Nothing focuses my attention on this balance more than working with both women and men in and around fertility and parenthood. This includes when that journey involves the loss and grief of infertility, recurrent miscarriages, stillborn babies and infant mortality.
I am aware of external support such as S.A.N.D.S. Lothian who do a truly amazing amount of support work and education of support workers. I admire the mums and dads who run sponsored marathons to raise funds to increase the scope of the work.
I work as a Doula as well as a Clinical Hypnotherapist. My daily work brings me into contact with parents, mums and dads who are having babies, looking for birth support, seeking ways to help themselves to become more at one with the birth process. They use tools like Hypnosis, and Hypnobirthing to prepare them for labour, birth and parenthood.
Not all stories have a happy outcome and I am reminded as I work, of those who have a more difficult time, in some cases a traumatic or deeply life-changing journey.
It is one of the primal drives of being human. The drive to survive is in built and requires two basic components: to eat and to procreate. In most cultures, including our own, it is expected that couples will have children. There is still a stigma against those women who decide to remain childless. There is still, by and large, an unrelenting pressure on couples to settle down, have kids and live happily ever after. Add to that the woman who has suffered repeated miscarriages and who is still working her way through the maze hoping to achieve her deepest desires to become a mother. And there is the mum who already has a child (or more than one) who finds that what she once took for granted, will no longer happen?
Does it help when statistics say that those couples who have unprotected sex for a year without conception are considered infertile? Or that after the age of 35, your chances of conception are reduced? Does it help when all women feel they are too late, they have missed their chance, left it too late? Fertility is not linear, in other words fertility is individual. A woman, at aged 45, could be more likely to conceive than another woman at 30.
Does it matter whether it takes 30 days or 1030 days to conceive? It does to many couples who are trying to do so. With the passing of time their hopes can become faded, their mood depressive.
For those women who repeatedly miscarry, does it help when others say stock pile responses such as, 'you are young', 'you have plenty of time', 'it was early anyway', 'don’t worry', 'count your blessings', 'you already have one healthy child', 'children are not everything'... Oh yes it matters. Every single word matters.
Many years ago, a 30-year old mum, with several healthy children, a successful partner and a comfortable lifestyle, came to my clinic. She came to me for therapy because a little while previously she had had a stillborn son. She felt that she had never been given the chance to grieve. Those around her didn’t want to listen to her and they had only given her a short time to 'get over it'. She was pressured to: get on with life, to count her blessings, to focus on what she had. She didn’t have the kindly listening ear to share her deepest feelings with. The world was moving forwards and she was stuck in a loop…
How long does it take to get over loss? Do we get over loss? Do we learn to live with loss? Sometimes when parents go through the formal ceremony of saying goodbye, it is not enough. Some parents have the chance to say hello to their child before they have to say goodbye. Others are only able to say hello to their sleeping baby.
There are no stock answers. There should and can always be compassion.
The infertile couple (1 in 6) have not failed.
Saying goodbye to a tiny baby deserves support, time and compassion.
Couples straining with the magnitude of repeated loss of babies, require support to see them through their journey. Whether that support includes lots of talking time, a new focus, self-help such as self-hypnosis, there are many ways to help overcome grief.
Women who sacrifice through diet, curtailing hobbies/sports, cutting out pleasures that 'may be' bad for conception, changing life patterns, require support. Those who find their social circle shrinking because support from family and friends diminishes, need support. Those who find it too hard to move within circles of friends and family who are having babies and raising children, need support.
If parents who still find ways to remember their sleeping babies invite to annual remembrance rituals, go if you can support them, they still need your support.
Encourage those who need support to find support through organisations of therapists who will help them.
If you have suffered loss and you think any of these thoughts: 'It is all my fault', 'I will never have a baby, 'I don’t trust my body', 'I have let everybody down'. You need support.
To those who are reading this and have been on this journey I wish you love and peace and acknowledgement of what you have or are going through….
Do you need a way to voice your own truth? If you haven’t been able to tell friends, family, work colleagues or anyone else what you want/need to say, what would you say? Give me a call, I am very happy to give you the support that you need. Contact me.