Society’s focus on family resemblances

Society’s focus on family resemblances

Society tends to focus on appearances when it comes to family. Naturally we are drawn to search for similarities, especially when it comes to babies. My husband thinks all babies look the same, but I used to pride myself on being able to easily pick out likenesses of both parents when meeting a newborn – I could always see an identifiable similarity. When we started TTC it filled me with excitement as I’d often wonder what our children would look like – a unique combination of both Matt and I. Because I placed such significance on this, it was a huge loss for me to grieve for, I had to accept that the vision of a child I’d always imagined just wasn’t going to be.

When pregnant, although I knew I would love our child, I still had a niggling worry about how striking any differences might be, and how I’d feel about them. Society’s so-called ‘norms’ played on my mind…will it be so obvious that people notice I’m not genetically related to them? Will it sting when there are inevitable comments about their looks?

When Mila arrived, the first thing that struck me was how much she looked like Matt. Not just a little bit – but scarily so! But what struck me even more was the realisation that she was completely individual and totally unique. I didn’t look to see a combination of two peoples genetics – instead all I saw was our beautiful child and was immediately flooded by love for her. This is one of my favourite pictures of the two of us, on our first family holiday to Cornwall when she was just 5 months old.

From birth, comments tended to be about how much she looked like Matt, which were actualy easy to respond to as she really does look like him! If I didn’t want to divulge too much about her conception, referencing her likeness to Daddy was always my default answer. I did get the odd comment likening her to me, but not often, I think sometimes people either see what they want to see or maybe say what they think you want to hear! Honestly though, talk of their appearance no longer bothered me, instead it became a great opportunity to celebrate their uniqueness and just how beautiful they are.

I’ll share on another post soon one hurtful comment I did receive (more out of ignorance & incorrect terminology) but on the whole I wanted to share this to reassure you. Even though it’s incredibly hard to let go of your ‘vision’ of the child you’d always imagined, in reality there is so much more to being a parent. Being a parent is about everything you do for them, the sacrifices you make and shared time together – not how alike you look. I may not have influenced the girls appearances directly, but I know I am shaping them as human beings through being their Mother. Something which, every day, I’m incredibly grateful for.

Love, Becky x

Facing fears relating to donor conception

Facing fears relating to donor conception

Many on Instagram have engaged with my posts about fears – thank you for confirming that I’m not alone!

These fears are important to acknowledge & I believe talking about them can better equip us to recognise & support our children with similar feelings that actually might ‘mirror’ ours.

Before we connected on Instagram, I remember listening to Jana Rupnow LPC talk about this with Natalie Silverman on ‘The Fertility Podcast‘ it was a lightbulb moment where it all made sense. I have grieved for genetic loss, but so might they…and who might be best placed to support them through it?…me! Having worked through my own grief I now have the ability to truly empathise – something Jana calls ‘mirroring’. It got me thinking… if we deny our own fears then are we more likely to dismiss or diminish theirs, rather than listen, empathise & support? I’ve come to realise that the phrase “but without what we did you wouldn’t exist” isn’t necessarily going to be a comforting response to my girls, should they have a genuine feeling of loss in connection to their identity. I now understand that there is a real spectrum of responses to being donor conceived, which can be influenced by parenting decisions such as whether to not to tell. Genetic loss might be of no significance at all to my girls, but it might be something that is important to them understanding their identity as they grow – the best thing is for me to be prepared.

It’s definitely not something I’d even remotely considered when all-consumed by infertility. Someone commented on a post recently and summed it up perfectly – “infertility robs you of a long-term view”. It’s so easy (and perfectly understandable) to not be able to look further than a positive pregnancy test, followed by pregnancy anxiety as you wait to hold a healthy baby in your arms. With donor conception there are many more stages to think about…it still sometimes blows my mind! It definitely would have completely shattered my mind to think about all of these things when I was so fragile & desperate for a baby, but knowing I wasn’t alone in my fears could have made all the difference. So what would I advise?

Talk to someone about it – having an open, safe space to talk with my counsellor really helped.

Read – I highly recommend Jana Rupnow’s book “Three Makes Baby”.

Listen to different perspectives – “Half Of Me Podcast” is a great way of understanding donor conception from the perspective of someone who is donor conceived.

I’m always here if you want to connect and ask questions, just click here and send me a message.

Love, Becky x

 

 

Finding out we’d need to use a donor

Finding out we’d need to use a donor

I still remember exactly where I was, what the weather was like, even what I was wearing when I first heard the ‘D’ word. By ‘D’ word I mean ‘Donor’. It was so life-altering for me that the memory has stayed with me.

There I was, still trying to process the need for medical assistance to have a baby (something that for most is so natural), when I then had to process the potential use of a third party, replacing a role I had always taken for granted that I would play – a genetic parent. It’s huge news. Mind-blowing. Devastating. So many emotions all rolled into one. Yet it is often dropped into a consultation as loosely as the use of an add-on, like embryo glue or a different type of progesterone. Dropped into the discussion was simply “…or you would have the best chance of success using a donor”. With my rash (but perfectly understandable) emotional reaction his words were then interpreted in my mind as “let’s scrap your crappy eggs & genetics, then you can carry a baby made by your husband & some other woman’s eggs”. A bit extreme I know but that was where I went to initially – the whole concept seemed alien to me. Obviously now I know that there’s so much more to it, it’s a beautiful option, but at the time I felt so alone & so lost. Anyone else felt the same?

I understand that the whole aim of a consultation with a medical professional is to look at HOW they can get you to the end goal – a healthy baby. That’s what we’re paying them for & I’m so grateful for medical advances for actually giving us options. On reflection I think what is sometimes lost is the recognition of just how complex the decision to use a donor can be. It was a real cliffhanger – I was left with something I never knew was even possible, let alone considered, & sent off to make these life changing decisions. I’m sure I’m not the only one leaving these appointments feeling totally overwhelmed.

That’s why I want to share my story – to help those who are only just finding themselves in this situation. I can’t help but think more can be done to bridge the gap & help guide people, as well as give much needed emotional support for the grief involved.

It’s great that in the UK there is now a mandatory counselling session and we have many useful resources from the Donor Conception Network. I just can’t help but feel that there is still some front-end support missing, at the clinic stage. Surely if we’re more looked after, prepared and emotionally aware at this early stage then it can only help with our decision making, ultimately making us better parents in the long-term? That’s the aim at the end of the day isn’t it… to be in the best frame of mind to be the best parents we can to our children – no matter how they were conceived. It’s something I’m working on behind the scenes, with an event coming very soon to bridge this exact gap.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… How did you feel when you were told you needed to use a donor? Please share – I’d love to hear about your experiences, both the good and the bad.

The Uncertainty of Infertility

The Uncertainty of Infertility

I recently saw heard someone say “infertility robs us of the long-term view”. Planning anything during fertility struggles becomes near on impossible – I remember I had so much of my life hung up on the loose possibility and desperate hope that I might soon be pregnant. From minor things to major life events – I’d find myself thinking…

Best not buy that dress… in the hope that I might not get much wear out of it as I would soon be needing maternity clothes

Best not book that holiday just yet… not knowing if I’d be in another IVF cycle or hoping that I might be in the early stages of pregnancy

Best not book the wedding yet… we don’t want to be spending ‘unnecessary’ money that might be needed for more treatment or (the more hopeful me) what about my wedding dress if I’m pregnant at the time? (a scenario I was quite happy to face!)

Best not commit to going on the hen weekend… there will be questions about me not drinking / what if it clashes with egg collection?!

Best not go to the social event… there’s bound to be another pregnancy announcement and I don’t feel strong enough to cope.

Best not apply for the new job… I just don’t have the energy / I need the length of service in the hope of company maternity pay / what if I start a new job & need more time off for appointments?

It’s the not knowing that I found so incredibly hard. Being a planner with the only thing certain in my life plan being quite simply “to be a Mum”, I was completely and utterly at a loss of what to do with myself. I wished for a crystal ball to just tell me that one day it would happen, even if it was going to be another ‪5/10 years – I just wanted some certainty, when in fact the only certainty was that there was none!

Because this lack of control can literally leave us feeling powerless we can easily let life run away without being ‘present’ in it.

I love the phrase “don’t let trying stop you from living” (I believe from the wonderful @mother_pukka) It’s why I love concepts such as @thisisalicerose‘s ‘Life Raft’ with the idea that, rather than be a passenger in life waiting to get back on the train, you can still find enjoyment in other things.

Try not to lose what makes you…YOU and don’t let trying stop you from living.

Love, Becky x

 

How to best support someone facing infertility

How to best support someone facing infertility

Not all journeys to motherhood are easy. It can be a long, difficult & traumatic path for as many as 1 in 6 couples, with not all struggles ending with a baby. It’s very likely that someone you know is facing infertility, but may be suffering in silence. From those that have been there, here are some useful tips for how you can best support someone…

We don’t expect you to fix it for us, so please try to avoid saying… ⠀⠀

“Just relax”. Relaxing won’t get us pregnant when a medical condition is causing infertility – this comment can imply that it’s our fault for being too stressed.

“Just adopt”. Adoption isn’t an easy alternative, in reality there are so many emotions involved & a difficult process with no guarantees.

“Maybe you should try x, y, z…” with no medical knowledge or experience. Believe me, we’ve probably tried every wacky remedy under the sun. *

“At least you…” A comment often used to try to make us to feel better & see the positives in our situation. With good intention, we know you are trying to lessen our pain but being childless just isn’t comparable to material things.

Avoid comparison to life as a Mum. We know motherhood is hard, but I promise we would much prefer a screaming baby keeping us up at night rather than sleepless nights worrying whether we will ever be a Mum! ⠀⠀

Be sensitive with triggering announcements. Ask how we would prefer to be told about pregnancies / births. Often a text message as a ‘heads up’ is appreciated, as opposed to an unexpected announcement. Rest assured, we are happy for you, however the ache for a child can sometimes mean the sadness of our own situation is overwhelming.

Simply put – just be there, acknowledge our pain & say…”I’m sorry, it is shit. I am here for you. What can I do to support you?”

We might prefer to be left alone, want to talk about it, want a welcome distraction or just need a friendly ear to rant to every now & again. All we may need is for you to be there & stay with us whilst we’re on this rollercoaster journey.

Love, Becky x