Going through any kind of fertility struggle, whether that be natural, assisted or baby loss is traumatic and devastating. We look for answers and often feel: Why me? Why us? Why did we deserve this?
We share so many emotions as a community and so many suffer in silence, feeling they’re the only ones. That’s why we are trying to help to end any stigma, give people light at end of the tunnel and connect others who have walked or are walking a similar path.
People assume that once a fertility struggle is ‘over’ all is perfect. But, do infertility scars ever fully heal? What happens if you’re parenting after infertility, and finding things hard? With this in mind, we’ve spoken with expert Julianne Boutaleb – Consultant Perinatal Psychologist, Founder and Clinical Director of Parenthood in Mind, to get her views on it.
Over to Julianne…
www.parenthoodinmind.co.uk | @parenthoodinmind
“But I just don’t understand, I mean after all this time? I have my little girl now – so why did her telling me she was pregnant make me feel like I was right back there again?”
These words were spoken recently by Maria, one of the many women I work with therapeutically in my role as a perinatal psychologist who specialises in fertility issues. Like many who go on to conceive successfully via ART, she knows she is one of the lucky ones. So she thought, like many, that once she had finally got pregnant, given birth and become a mum to her daughter, she would leave the pain and trauma of infertility behind her.
Of course she did for a while. Attending antenatal classes, buying clothes for her little one, organising her Christening, making mum friends at the play group were all important steps for Maria on the road to parenthood post-infertility. These were important milestones away from the feelings of not fitting in, of being a ‘failure’ and of loss that she associated with her struggle to conceive. But recent research carried out in Taiwan (1) suggests that even when women become pregnant via ART, it can be hard to shake off these feelings and to engage wholeheartedly with the joy of being pregnant and becoming a mother. Whilst a study by Fertility Network UK in 2016 highlighted levels of anxiety and depression, fertility trauma and its particular impact on the transition to parenthood and on one’s sense of self as a parent is less recognised.