In these very strange times where we are settling into our own new normal we have reached out to ask our members how they are coping with all these changes and uncertainty in their lives. Fertility issues impact your mental health so much and our current situation is adding to the load on our mental health.
We got a great response from a real cross section group of ladies, all in different stages of their fertility journey. Please read the real words, fears, the bravery and beautiful thoughts of our members, wonderful, inspirational and such unbelievably resilient woman who have all found positives in their own personal situations.
I find myself enjoying a different kind of maternity leave
‘Maternity leave hasn’t been exactly what I thought it would be. But then again, my pregnancy wasn’t very straightforward either. So, you’d imagine I’d be used to all the stumbling blocks by now!!
I imagined my maternity leave to be filled by coffee mornings and play dates and meeting other mummies but sadly all meet ups have been cancelled. I can’t go clothes shopping for cute outfits. But worse still I can show her off to family or friends.
Now I can’t say that it’s all bad. I’m isolating with the precious cargo that I carried for nine months. This precious cargo just so happens to be the most adorable human in the world that fills my days with smiles and giggles. So, I find myself enjoying a different kind of maternity leave than I had imagined and in a way, I’m loving every minute.’
I never in my wildest dreams imagined being pregnant with this epidemic crisis of covid-19
‘Suffering with infertility over the past 9 years I never in my wildest dreams imagined being pregnant with this epidemic crisis of covid-19. Being pregnant can be a very exciting time but being pregnant during this current climate can bring a lot of anxiety. I feel very out of control. It’s the uncertainty of when it’s going to end and not knowing the effect the coronavirus can have on a mother and baby during pregnancy. My husband can’t come in for hospital appointments or scans. I feel sorry for him as he is missing out on such a big adventure in our lives, but I understand that these safety measures are in place to protect me and my baby and to stop the spread of this virus. As a health care professional, myself, being pregnant and being on immunosuppressants I felt very vulnerable going into the hospital setting caring for patients who may have the Covid -19. This caused a lot of stress and added pressure which was not good for me or my baby. My GP and obstricisan signed me off work. I felt guilty leaving my job. As a nurse your role is to care for the sick and the dying and especially during this crisis nurses are needed more than ever but I had to put of my baby first. I’m grateful to be living in a rural area and being at home in isolation is the safest place for me and my baby. I get overwhelmed thinking about the delivery and whether or not this Covid 19 will still be around. To try and switch off and relax on what’s currently happening in the world I try meditation and listen to calming music. I’m enjoying yoga and Pilates classes via YouTube. The most important thing is we are all doing our bit to stay safe and maintain our physical and mental wellbeing.’
I know at the end of the road there is something wonderful in store for me
‘During these Covid 19 times, when society and family are really rallying together, I’ve noticed how in my adult lifetime families have never been so connected. I’m more in contact with family and friends than ever before. I’ve even reconnected with friends whom I had lost touch with.
However, it’s also bringing about conflicting and painful emotions. When I see parents and children out spending time together, children visiting grandparents from a distance, out on the road, or making signposts, doing cartwheels in the garden, whatever it is, I think it’s beautiful and then it’s like I’ve been stabbed in the chest and the overwhelming desire to cocoon myself in my bedroom and shut out all the light comes back, and I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I know that not being able to have my own biological children does not mean I can’t have my own children, but I am still working through accepting this as my fate after being diagnosed with premature ovarian failure in my early 30s.
I feel like what should be uplifting, to see families rally together to look after each other and support one another is making me sadder than the thoughts of contracting the virus itself. I should caveat that I have a great support network in my own family and I am not in any danger of self-harm, but fleeting thoughts have crossed my mind that maybe contracting the virus would be an easy way out for me.
I am sure this is normal and lots of other women battling against infertility are also feeling these emotions and I wanted to share my thoughts, so they know it is ok and we are in this together. I will get through this and I know at the end of the road there is something wonderful in store for me, I just dont know what it is yet.’
We are the lucky ones
‘I started back to work after maternity leave in early March. I was leaving a toddler and baby twins at home with my husband, who is on parental leave. On my second week back we were told to work from home. To say the least it has been extremely challenging. I was so looking forward to going back to work and having some headspace again. Working from home in the current situation is almost impossible and work pressures remain the same. Preschool for my son is obviously closed so he has no outlet and we feel we need to do more activities with him to prevent the tv being on all day.
Anyway, we are getting by. I sometimes have to go sit in the car to get quietness when on call etc. However, we are the lucky ones. We have a roof over our head, food to eat and are healthy. We don’t have an end date for this but by the sounds of it, it will take a long time for normality to come. I have 3 children after a long struggle to have them and thankfully my fertility journey has ended. I feel for those who are still on that path and their plans have been put on hold and the anxieties that go along with that. Hopefully, this virus will be controlled soon and we all can go on to live our lives.’
I try to remember that this too will pass and before we know it, we’ll be back to work as normal wishing we have this precious family time back again
‘As a full time working mum, working outside the home has been second nature to me! A few weeks ago we were faced with the challenge of doing our day jobs at our kitchen table… then we were asked to do our day job and home school our kids! I have to admit, I feel quite stressed initially – trying to juggle parenting, work and schooling. I really felt under pressure to do it all and it was getting me down, so I had to make a decision – I’m not superwoman. So I took a step back and a deep breath and realised that I can only do so much. To make it work for me I dip in and out of school work set by the teacher, but learning has taken a different shape – learning is now baking, cooking, gardening, scavenger hunts etc. On the days that my husband isn’t working outside the home (he works in an essential services job) it is easier – and together we are able to tackle it all.
Unfortunately for us, we had started into a another round of IVF, which brings with it many stresses and concerns. The timing was unlucky. The round of IVF has now been cancelled and we don’t know when it will be re-scheduled. To survive the IVF rollercoaster, I need a plan. I need to know when my next appointment is, scan, test etc. This helps me cope – Now I don’t have that and to be honest, I panic a little when I think about how long we may need to wait before we start again.
All these factors are difficult on my wellbeing. So for me, it helps to focus on the positive, accept the uncontrollable factors and let my mind rest every now and again. Quality family time, video chats with loved ones, reading and my favourite – gardening have really helped me so far.
I try to remember that this too will pass and before we know it, we’ll be back to work as normal wishing we have this precious family time back again.’
I cannot image what is was like to have treatment cancelled last minute.
‘I am lucky as my husband is a teacher and is off so he can stay at home with our wonderful baby. Otherwise we would really struggle for childcare as grandparents are off limits in order to ensure they are protected. We were meant to do an FET in April but that has been cancelled. I am glad that atleast I had not started medication. I cannot image what is was like to have treatment cancelled last minute. I also feel for those who had transferred just prior to all these changes. going through the TWW (Two week wait) or waiting on a scan. It is particulay tough as no partners are allowed at appointments and something these appointments do not result in joyous news. I am a front line worker so I have to leave the house daily. I think working from home may be tough as it really gives you way too much time to think about things.’
I decided this is my time with my daughter and I’m going to enjoy it and we did
‘I’m waiting to implant a Frozen embryo. I was hoping to do a natural cycle in April but that’s not happening now. It’s frustrating but what can you do. It’s been a struggle for me to get to this stage as I had a loss last year. She was a still birth, 38 weeks, she had complications throughout the pregnancy. Myself & my husband are grateful that we have a daughter, but I know we can feel lost and overwhelmed with the grief at times.
What I found with IVF it is like your grieving all the time, your grieving for the memories that haven’t been made. I do have one regret before we knew my daughter wasn’t going to make it. I was worried that something bad was going to happen in those first few weeks that I couldn’t relax & enjoy/ be happy with the pregnancy and lost a bit of the bliss of getting pregnant (didn’t help we didn’t know how to read the pregnancy test, use at least 2 tests for next time) if someone said congrats I was always weary and say its early days. I wish that if and hopefully when I do get pregnant that I can relax & enjoy/be happy in those early days. When we knew it wasn’t going well with the pregnancy I decided this is my time with my daughter and I’m going to enjoy it and we did, myself & husband took lots of photos with my belly, we have copies ourselves and copies with her. When I look back I don’t know how we did it.
Myself & my husband are working from home right now and my work have been so understanding of my situation. My husband & I are keeping to ourselves. It’s difficult been away from our families but technology nowadays is great with What’s app & face time. I’m taking this time to get as much walks in as I can, doing a bit of yoga and eating healthy but sometimes it’s so hard to eat healthy cause of boredom. I am hoping that we can do our transfer in the Summer sometime. I understand that the IVF clinics have to careful and no one can put a start time for the clinics to kick everything off again, they have to protect they’re staff too. We had to do a few rounds of IVF during last Summer & in January to get our 4 frozen embryos and hopefully it will all work. That is all we want isn’t it. We’ve been at this for five and a half years. I hope everyone is keeping safe, washing hands and looking after themselves during this time.’
I try to live in the moment
‘I feel I am living in a parallel universe as I am abroad and its pretty much business as usual here, for the interim. We have decided the best thing we can do to ensure our safety and the safety of others is adhere to the Irish guidelines of social distancing and by keeping to ourselves. I am not concerned for our safety, but I feel they really taking a huge gamble in this country but only the history books will tell if it was a good idea or not.
In a way it’s nearly easier being abroad as we don’t really know anyone, so we have had minimal disruption to our lives. We had been living a very quiet life here anyway so not much has changed. I think I would struggle being close to my family but not being able to see them.
I am also in the privileged position of being on a career break, so I get to spend all my time with our fantastic daughter. I try to live in the moment and enjoy watching her grow too quickly. It’s amazing to think she will have no memory of this time. This isn’t the adventure we thought we signed up for but we are making the most out of it.
We also have two embryos in storage waiting for me to get my head around transferring, I had so many excuses why the time wasn’t right up to now, so I am glad that I don’t have to even think about that for the minute as it’s something that totally scares me, the thought of having to hop back on board the rollercoaster again. At least for now that can be put on the long finger but always sits in the back of my mind.’
We here at NISIG feel for all of our members and anyone struggling with emotions good or bad arising from infertility.
We are always here you all, drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org, ring Helen on our help line @ 087 7975958 and we will also be running our support meetings on line.
NISIG, National Infertility Support & Information Group, is the only registered Irish Charity providing support and information for those struggling with fertility issues. The organisation has been in existence for almost 25 years. The group provides a 24 hour telephone support service, peer to peer mentoring and nationwide support meetings for people struggling with their fertility, for those going through and who have been through donor conception and surrogacy. While also providing advocacy on behalf of patients struggling to create their own families.
For further details of the service es NISIG provide please go to www.NISIG.com or nisig_ireland on Instagram.