How Women With Infertility Are Similar to Trauma Survivors – My Experience

I stumbled across this article recently – How Women With Infertility Are Similar To Trauma Survivors – and while I was surprised by the controversy, the article itself really resonated with me.

I would describe my own personal journey with infertility as a defining period in my life. It forever changed me. I’ll never be the person I was the day before I had my first ever devastating miscarriage. Never. That woman I was died that day, along with the fetus being expelled from my broken womb and just like the death of my own genetics, she will never be again.

I call myself a survivor. I call myself and infertility survivor. Because unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, unless you’ve experienced infertility on any level, you cannot know the despair, the grief and the trauma that goes hand in hand with the hopelessness that is infertility. Unless you’ve had a miscarriage, you really can’t know what the death of that could have, should have been dream child feels like.

Why Do Outsiders to Infertility Have So Much Trouble Understanding Us

Throughout my infertility journey and even now as a survivor, I feel like my trauma was completely misunderstood and often downplayed by my fertile counterparts. Believe me, I harbor no ill feelings, I’m the first to admit that prior to my first miscarriage, I’d never really imagined  or understood what the depth of that pain would be. Honestly, I don’t even think I would have considered infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss as a trauma, prior to experiencing it myself.

At the same time, I know those suffering from infertility who had such deep levels of distress and depression that they considered suicide.

After my 6th miscarriage and about 5 years into my journey with infertility, I seriously considered and planned my own suicide. That is a very scary thought for me today. To think back and to know that there was a time in my life when my emotional distress was so intense that the thought of ending my life was less terrifying than having to face and deal with the pain I was in.

And again, I think about how often the pain and struggle of infertility is downplayed because really, in hindsight, now that I am of healthy mind, I realize, I probably should have been institutionalized during that period. I probably should have gone to a place like Crescent Clinic and received medical and professional help. I was in the midst of a complete breakdown. But I don’t believe anyone around me took my cry for help seriously, I don’t believe they realized the depth and the breadth of my utter despair and desperation. Of how close I was to completely losing my mind.

But it’s not just my physical death that I contemplated, but the death of my genetics too. I will never know genetic mirroring with my child. I will never carry or know a child that is biologically related to me and there is a degree of trauma, sadness, grief and acceptance in that statement too.

So, do I consider myself a survivor?

I’m here. I’m alive. I’m thriving. I am the mother of two beautiful children. I overcame. I am forever changed but I am still alive, so yes, I very much consider myself a survivor!

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  • Reply Susan

    I agree wholeheartedly. And I do believe infertility can be life threatening if you become depressed enough to want to take your own life. I realised I needed help with my depression and got it. But my family bore the brunt of my depression and anger. There is still a hole in a kitchen cupboard door from when I threw a full bottle of wine across the kitchen. The fear, anger, pain and sadness that infertility brings is indescribable to someone who hasn’t been there themselves. Having to mourn the loss of my genetics was the hardest thing I have ever had to face. I have my daughter now (from donor eggs) and she is my everything. I am a survivor too.

    June 12, 2015 at 11:32 am
  • Reply Karen

    For me infertility (but no miscarriages) was like grieving the death of child that hadn’t been born. No one around me could understand why I was grieving, which left me feeling even more isolated.

    June 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm
  • Reply Anon

    What you say is very true. I had secondary infertility. It was by far the hardest emotional thing I had ever dealt with. Eventually I was lucky enough to get pregnant. That baby was wanted, and cherished from long before she was conceived. 9 happy months followed, only for her to be born and pass away within days. No reason could be given for her death. Do you recover from any of that? No. Pushes you right to the edge. Infertility and infant death both come with different types of pain. I would not wish either on anyone. x

    June 12, 2015 at 1:44 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I’m so sorry for your loss.

      June 12, 2015 at 2:35 pm
  • Reply Heather

    This is so true, Sharon, and I take my hat off to you for surviving what you have been through. I look at my child every day with such gratitude because he is my miracle.

    June 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm
  • Reply South African Mom Blogs June Roundup and Linky - South African Mom Blogs

    […] has a thoughtful How Women With Infertility are Similar to trauma Survivors: My Experience in which she opens up about how she considered suicide after her 6th […]

    July 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm
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