If you’re up for it I’d like to share my best kept secret with you, well until today that is then…It’s a bit of a lengthy post, so if you want to read it do make sure you’ve standing, sitting, or lying down comfortably 🙂
My best kept secret is not just my best kept secret; it’s our best kept secret. It’s me and my partners story. To introduce the story, let me begin to ask you a question. Have you ever dreamt of becoming parents? Maybe you have, maybe you haven’t. Perhaps you are fortunate enough (or unfortunate depending on your view ha) to be a parent at this very moment. The thing is, we have been trying to become parents for well over the last three years now. And with pain in my heart I have to confess it still isn’t supposed to be our time.
Will it ever get so far? Only time can tell.
Let me give you a tiny bit of context about why our dream hasn’t materialised yet.
Our ongoing (secret) struggle
My partner previously has had complications which has made it more difficult for her to naturally conceive. You know when life hits you in the face with a brick? Sooner or later it will happen. Well, this was one of those moments for her. She had a horrific ectopic pregnancy which, in this event, resulted in the loss of a fallopian tube. It’s something that happened in the past but keeps affecting us to this present moment.
In my case, well about three years ago I found out that my sperm is – as the medical world likes to frame it – ‘sub-optimal’. Basically, it means I’m not firing blanks – which I guess I have to be grateful for – but, similar to my partners situation, it just makes things much more difficult for us to naturally conceive.
Last Wednesday we went up to Neath/Port Talbot hospital again to evaluate our third failed IVF (ICSI) attempt. Our consultant informed us it’s theoretically nearly impossible for us to conceive naturally. She had seen (and heard of) stories where couples in similar situations have been defeating the odds and have become pregnant the natural way, but it’s still a very tiny chance apparently. And although that’s a pretty difficult message to swallow I guess there’s still a thing called hope as we will continue to undertake even more IVF attempts in the near future. It’s a attitude or mindset you almost naturally try to adopt over the years. I guess you can call it survival mode. You become harder, more resilient, but also numb. As a couple there are many tough lessons we have learned whilst undergoing IVF treatments.
Going through adversity
Obviously, physically it’s a very tough journey. In every one of the three failed IVF attempts my partner has had to inject herself with a very nasty cocktail of drugs for about two weeks straight. Every morning. Every evening. Clockwork. Try to imagine preparing the drug, transferring and mixing the fluids, putting a needle inside of your tummy for 14 days. It’s pretty tough. Following the injection phase is then a series of invasive medical procedures and to finish some delightful tablets which let’s just say my partner was shocked as to how they were consumed. As time passes your tummy will become rock-hard, you gain weight and that’s only the physical bit; the hormones and emotions are a whole different blog!
Because as soon you start with the injections, mentally it will become tougher. You’ll start to struggle. You start to wonder if it’s worth it. Enduring all of this, repeatedly, with no guarantee whatsoever of getting the outcome we wish for. There are things that go on inside of your head and in your body that nobody knows a damn about because you just don’t share those things. Nobody does. Also, what’s the point you wonder? Nobody will understand what you’re experiencing, nobody is going though the same thing. It’s your best kept story. You’ll start to doubt, you’ll start to become uncertain, you become more emotional and the anxiety slowly tries to take over. More and more often these feelings and sensations in your body are becoming overwhelming.
As soon as you walk out the door, go to your job, go out for a run, or just try to do the food shopping, reality reminds you of your pain. Babies everywhere. Kids galore. Young seemingly happy parents on every damn street. Argh! Why? Life’s so unfair. Why doesn’t it work for us? We are still young. We have given up drinking for the last couple of months. We exercise regularly. We follow a healthy diet. We take food supplements. We drink expensive pomegranate juice every bloody day. We’re not obese. Why? You compare yourself to others. It’s a completely natural and normal thing to do but that doesn’t mean it makes life any easier. And I haven’t even started on the financial hardship…
Everybody has a best kept secret
The reason I’m sharing this story with you (or is it more offloading…) is because I sincerely believe that pretty much every one of us has a best kept secret or story, similar to ours. An ongoing struggle which they are not particularly keen to share publicly. No. We rather keep it close to ourselves; and that’s ok. But because we don’t share our personal struggles, we think we are alone, but that’s not true. I would advocate the opposite is actually closer to the truth.
We will inevitably experience some degree of fear, sadness, guilt, disgust, or shock. That’s part of life. You could say that in a way, we’re all in the same boat, but we are not aware of it because we don’t know each other’s life stories. We sometimes get to know the highs – thanks to social media – but the lows usually remain hidden and locked away.
As a practicing life coach, I’m fortunate enough to hear some of these best kept secrets. It’s a privilege to be gently let into their world and get to know people’s private stories in at the Therapy Rooms in Pembroke Dock. All around us people are feeling hurt, maybe in their job or in their relationships. People think they are not good enough or don’t deserve to be where they are now. Literally, everybody has a best kept secret. When people realise they are not alone in their struggle they usually take comfort in that. Rather thinking they were the odd one out they suddenly fit in with the crowd.
What I always come back to in my sessions is the concept of workability. What I mean by that is if you’re doing something and it’s working for you, please crack on, keep on doing it. If it’s allowing and helping you to being the person you want to be, fantastic, great stuff! If it’s however not working for you so far and you’re still feel stuck then you probably need to do something about it.
That same advice holds true with keeping your best kept secret to yourself. If that secret is holding you back or, on a daily basis, is limiting you in doing the things you want to do then that approach it’s not working for you and you probably need to be more honest and truthful to yourself and perhaps reconsider if you want to be keep on doing that.
Personally, I rather be open about my ‘best kept secret’ which, as you’re now more aware about, are our issues with fertility. I’m happy to share it, because I know I’m getting something from it. Support, space, some air I guess. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want scream it off the rooftops. I don’t want to be reminded about it every day, god no. But yes, I’m happy to talk about it every now and then. That approach works for me. My partner handles it differently. She follows infertility stories on Instagram, she reads personal stories about it, she reaches out to friends who are going through a similar thing. She does all of that because it works for her. I don’t judge or criticise her – or at least I try – and she’s not imposing her own agenda on me. We both handle and cope with our situation it in a different manner and that’s ok.
Keep or share your ‘best kept secret’?
Workability is our best friend. If keeping your personal struggle to yourself is working for you, cool. Keep it to yourself. No judgement here. However, if holding on to your best kept secret is not working for you and eating you up on the inside you do seriously need to reconsider if it’s time to make a change.
I’ll leave that one up to you 🙂