I was talking with a friend, via email, yesterday about how having a new born can leave one feeling isolated and at times, very very lonely. It was interesting to hear another experience, which while different to mine, was in some ways very very similar.
I realize, with hindsight, as you do, that my feelings of isolation were partly my own fault. I’d made a choice, somewhere during our infertility journey so isolate myself from my fertile friends. At some point, it became too painful for me to participate in baby showers, to attend get togethers and have nothing to contribute to the conversations that inadvertently, always were about children and babies. I withdrew from those friendships and surrounded myself in the infertility community. Forming close IRL bonds with many of the women I met along the way.
This choice often made me nervous, I often wondered how things would turn out when they’d all had their babies and I was still waiting in the starting blocks of motherhood. I’d been “left behind” so many times in the past, that I had all but accepted that it would be no different in the future. I’d watch as each one of these IF friends became pregnant and moved on with their families. And then what would I do? Withdraw from them to? Then what? Then I’d have no friends.
I never, in my wildest imaginings, thought that I’d race right past everyone and over the finish line and be the first of our groups to become a mother. It simply did not seem possible. And then one or two of them got pregnant and I waited, with baited breath for the relationships to fizzle out. Of course, the one thing I hadn’t banked on happened. I went from trying to come to terms with my 7th miscarriage, to hearing we’d been selected to holding a new born baby.
And that’s where my self-created isolation started. Suddenly, there I was in a type of isolation of my own creation. I had no friends with babies. And the friends that were closest to me started slowly, at first, withdrawing. Suddenly, I was no longer invited to birthday celebrations, no more invitations to get togethers, no more invites for Saturday morning breakfasts. And I had no one to turn to.
I also had no friends who were experienced mothers. No one to turn to for advice. No one to assure me that everything would be ok in the end, no one to tell me that my anxiety as a new mom was normal, that I would adjust to my new role and that everything would be alright in the end.
I think this is where a lot of my “survivor’s guilt” came from. Had I been the last in the group to have had a baby it probably would have been different. But I wasn’t the last. I was the first and it all happened so head spinningly fast that no one, my self included, had a chance to mentally prepare for how my life would change. It was suddenly difficult to spend time with my friends, to see the pain in their eyes & feel my guilt at that pain for one thing and to have them completley not understand what I was going through, or to have my silence misinterpreted as uncaring, when it was more a matter of trying to keep my own head above water as I struggled through the 60 days and with trying to make the transition to motherhood, all of which increased my feelings of isolation.
I wish I’d had somebody going through this with me. One of the most exciting times during my 6th pregnancy was discovering that 2 of my friends were also pregnant and we were all due within 2 weeks of each other. I remember being so excited by the prospect of having 2 other friends in similar situations, encouraging and supporting each other, play dates together. That would have gone a long way in helping me cope in the early days, but I didn’t have that.
Instead, aside from the support I received online, I was pretty much scared and very very alone, not to mention hurting from how isolated I felt.
It’s one of the things I look forward to the second time around. Having the confidence in my ability as a mother. Not feeling so completley overwhelmed and out of my depth with no one to turn to. This time, I’ll have myself and my quiet confidence in myself, not to mention the mommy friends I’ve made over the past 20 months, who will, hopefully, be there to carry me through when the going gets rough.
I think my message with this blog posting is simply that we should not arm ourselves to cope only with our current situation, but to prepare for what the future may hold too. I was so focused on the here and now during my IF journey that I never thought ahead and prepared for the day that my turn would come, that notion seemed inconceivable.