As someone who has been through infertility, it is often at the forefront of my mind. It makes up a lot of what I do, what I say and it still dictates how I feel about a lot of things. I’ve realised over time though, that those who haven’t been affected by it genuinely have no idea. Why would they, of course? There are things I have no idea about as well. A lot of people say you don’t take notice of infertility until it affects you, and something happened to me a couple of weeks ago that reminded me of that.
As some of you know, I’ve recently started work on a maternity ward. My role is purely administration – I don’t have any clinical responsibilities or requirements within the department. Essentially, I staff a reception desk and let people in and out. Interesting, right? Despite the relative simplicity of the job, I’m really enjoying my time in this department and I’m learning an awful lot too – mostly from patients. I’m learning about the sheer length and breadth of human experience in maternity.
So, something caught my ears a week or so ago and was then brought up in a staff meeting. One of the desks we staff is the postnatal ward. When people leave here, they won’t be back until they have another baby – that is providing that they’re not readmitted for any reason. Anyway, so it came to my attention that a lot of my colleagues were waving people off with the fun phrase “see you next year!” It made me prickle right from the first time I heard it. As someone who has battled with infertility and loss, I know how that would have made me feel when leaving with our long awaited rainbow baby.
It was brought up in staff meeting and the majority of people hadn’t even thought about it. There were a couple of people who went back on it and said “the midwives say it!” but once reminded that the midwives know people’s history, they generally reconsidered. It really highlighted to me that although infertility is something that affected me greatly, people who haven’t experienced it don’t really have an idea. It’s not on their radar at all. I’m not in any way saying that makes them a bad person or that they said this with any malice – just that sometimes I forget how different humans and their experiences are.
It really highlighted to me that honestly, everyone’s story is completely their own. Amy and I went through infertility and we had a loss. We were lucky that we only needed clomid and progesterone to conceive and keep hold of Eden. I’m thankful every day for that. I have friends who have been through multiple rounds of IVF – some of whom have come out with a baby and others who haven’t. I have friends who have had many losses and friends who have never got their wish for a baby.
I often wonder how having a baby feels when you haven’t had problems making that baby. I really believe that parents who have struggled look at their children differently. But then, I guess every parent looks at their child differently. There’s more to how we view the world than just the most recent chapter of our journey.
It’s funny to me how everyone has different stories, but in that one moment – leaving the postnatal ward with our new baby – we are all viewed as the same by default. The past becomes the past and you become a bigger family starting a new adventure…