My Musings

Other People’s Fertility

History (noun): The whole series of past events connected with a particular person

It’s been over a year since I last properly blogged. I’ve obviously been so fortunate in that I’ve been raising a little one, but I’ve still had many instances where my baby loss “history” has collided with my newfound reality. The thing is, it’s not really my history, if it still impacts my present – is it?

It’s a balancing act of thoughts and emotions – yes, I experienced three instances of baby loss over 5 years, but I now have a living child (which trust me, I am eternally grateful for. I still pinch myself that she’s here). Having a child makes me one of the lucky, unlucky ones – I won the lottery in the baby loss sh1t-sh0w after all. Surely anything I bemoan now is just utter fertility privilege? Yet funnily enough, what I want to talk about today, is how other people’s fertility still impacts me – even though MY fertility in writing this, may now offend YOU. Crazy world.

Let’s address the elephant in the room; do I still have a say, now that I have a happily ever after? Cards (and many mixed metaphors) on the table, I’m not sure where I fit anymore. I don’t sit with the “recently” bereaved, the childless, those still trying – I do get that – but the reason I’ve decided to blog is because I don’t want to make the same mistake again – to assume that I am the only person in the world feeling this, that I’m the only person with “ugly” thoughts (indeed, one of the first blogs I wrote was about the uncomfortable truth about pregnancy announcements). So although I will attempt to tread lightly (and bear in mind the childless Anjulie pre-2022 and other readers still in that position), I do have some small hope/faith, that someone out there will feel some relief in reading this now. The thing is, yes I have a child, but I also lost three. That’s an unalterable fact and sadly, there are irrevocable impacts to that too – that’s the binding thread here.

So time for the bruths (for the uninitiated, that’s my husband’s abbreviation for my “brutal truths” – which I’ve come to realise, is what’s made Mumoirs so relatable).

I don’t want it to be the case, but:

  • Pregnancy announcements can still evoke unpleasant feelings
  • The ease in which other (non baby loss / fertility challenged) people fall pregnant, still irritates me
  • The ignorant bliss still makes me envious and wistful
  • I’m still so incredibly judgemental about who gets to have babies

I had hoped this would go away. And it did for a bit.

When I was pregnant I sort-of wanted family and friends to be pregnant alongside me. I wanted my growing baby to grow up in company, but then I also didn’t want anyone else to be pregnant because in the past (and there’s no nice way to say it): all their babies lived and mine didn’t. As it happened, only one friend was pregnant at the same time (due a month later) and to be honest, that was enough for me. I don’t think I could have handled much more.

Then came the pregnancy announcement heyday. For the whole year after having Ellissa, I could FINALLY find joy in the pregnancy announcements. Even in random celebrity ones. I just thought “ahh!” and “yay!” I knew what they had in store and I was happy for them. And I was happy for ME too – I was finally responding like a “normal” person.

But now? Well, now we return to what irked me pre conventional motherhood. The number two (which for me, is no coincidence that the term is parental slang synonymous with something else!). My new peers now contemplating a sibling, innocently asking me whether I’ll have another, having no clue that it took me a flipping long time to have this one (let’s not get started on the year of “is this your first baby?” conversational minefield). And the increasing number of people joining the “two under two” club – well, that’s gut-wrenching for me too. Other people’s fertility still floors me.

Since losing babies, I now sit at weddings and wonder what the couple’s fertility journey will be. During the service, that’s what I actually think about, I can’t stop it. I scoff at the couples (who I love!) and their families, knowing that they all think babies are coming soon. And maybe they are. But maybe they’re not. And though I never want anyone to go through what we have, I never want anyone to not know it too.

I would love to have another child, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. I certainly don’t expect it will, like so many of the unwitting around me. One successful pregnancy does not guarantee another. For me, it would take a whole lot of mental, physical, emotional, medical preparation. So I forgive myself for still not sharing in the celebration of another’s second round of ignorant fertility bliss. Yes this makes me bitter, but it makes me human too.

While others share their scan photos of baby number two, I’ll be requesting official baby loss certificates for my first two. I first wrote about this in 2022 here, with my thoughts summed up as follows:

More than anything, I am overjoyed at the signal that this will send to all women and families. When they are offered a certificate to mark and formally record their loss, I hope that it signals that theirs is a loss ‘worth’ grieving – valid, real, recognised, important. This is something I certainly lacked with my first two pregnancy losses. I genuinely believe that the neglect in addressing this aspect, prevented me from fully emotionally acknowledging what had happened. I felt stupid, for feeling sad. I felt like I had got carried away and that other women weren’t so affected by it. Silly me, it was “common” after all – wasn’t that supposed to make it easier? I put my head down, sported my British stiff upper lip and went back to work (after just two days). I didn’t access any emotional support, until years later. If I’m honest, it was because Summer had a birth certificate that I finally acknowledged that we had to make space for her, in our lives and in our family. She was not something to be hidden away or ashamed of. I said to James “in years to come, if people look us up, they will see her name, we can’t ignore that” – and hence, this blog was born. And all the comfort that’s run alongside it.

It’s a strange thing to celebrate, but these certificates are a huge success for families in England nonetheless. Miscarriage lacks societal acknowledgement, ritual, protocol – these certificates (9 years in the making!) go such a long way to hopefully one day, closing that familial gap. These babies are part of our history and their certificates will be making it.

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