Why the silence?
In the middle of 2016, Jonny and I began our quest to have a family. Since then we have experienced a miscarriage and the birth of our beautiful baby girl, Mackenzie, but also Mackenzie’s diagnosis and her loss when she was just over 7 months, and more recently, five rounds of IVF.
Throughout this journey I have learnt so many lessons. One of the most important lessons has been that we are not alone.
Whilst our journey is quite unique, and we have been through more than most, many other people have also been touched with heartache surrounding their own journey to have children, including infertility, illness, loss, and grief.
However, I have also learnt how often people keep these personal experiences a secret, especially IVF. I have been contacted by so many people who privately share their own struggles with me but then tell me that no one else knows about what they are going through. I hear their stories and I feel their pain, but I am also left wondering why? Why the silence?
It isn’t just ‘normal’, everyday people who are keeping silent about their personal tragedies or struggles, it is also celebrities. We often seem to hear about many older celebrities these days being pregnant, and more often than not, they are pregnant with twins. Chances are that they needed the assistance of some form of IVF as twins are a more common result than happens by natural means. Also, it’s likely they have experienced miscarriages, but they keep quiet about these trials. And I have to ask ‘why?’
I do understand that for most people these are private journeys and there is an argument for keeping your private pain to yourself. People may have their reasons, and not everyone wants to put it out there in the public domain like we do. But not to tell anyone? Where is the support when things go wrong, and no-one knows what you’re going through? Who is there for you when you need love and support?
A couple of the people who have contacted me are women who say that they are having IVF but their husbands/partners do not want them to tell anyone. Whilst I understand this may be a matter of male pride, I don’t understand how these men can allow their partner to go through such a demanding and isolating experience alone without the support of friends and family. IVF involves injecting hormones that can have significant emotional effects, on top of so much stress and anxiety, and it is hard enough without having anyone to talk to about it.
Some people I speak to say ‘I will tell people once things are better’ or ‘we’ll let people know once we are pregnant’. Invariably they don’t tell people about the journey they had in getting to that point, just the end result. It seems to me like the equivalent of meeting someone online but telling people you met at your local café. Perhaps they don’t want to admit the truth because they are ashamed, in some way. Why? How is your struggles your fault? And, perhaps, yes, it is nice to focus on, and celebrate, good news rather than wallow in the bad news but if people knew something of your journey to get there, to have that success, wouldn’t they celebrate even harder with you?
Maybe it is a case of people being scared to admit that their lives aren’t perfect? Are they scared to be vulnerable? In many ways, it may also be not wanting to admit that they are human because to be human is to be fragile and vulnerable, to experience difficulties, even pain and suffering. It’s not pretty but it’s often the reality.
Every person who hides their life struggles helps to perpetuate the false image that these issues don’t happen. That life is simple, perfect and always good.
It is not.
Some people may cruise through life with few, if any, hurdles at least for a time, but no-one goes through their whole lives without experiencing some difficulties, some pain and suffering. Eventually we all hit heartache, and during these times, we all need help, so why don’t we stop pretending that life is a beautiful montage, a constant series of perfect images on Instagram?
Infertility affects 1 in 6 Australian couples.
1 in 5 pregnancies end in miscarriages.
6 babies die of stillbirth every day in Australia.
Around 130 babies each year die of SIDs in Australia.
1 in 20 Australian children face a birth defect or genetic disease.
I am sorry if all of this sounds scary, I don’t intend to be the bearer of bad news, or burst anyone’s happiness bubble, I just want to point out that when you go through these tough times in your family journey, this is part of life. To ignore it is disrespectful for those who are living through difficult times.
Luckily, most babies, children, parents and families won’t have to go through any of this pain and suffering. Luckily, for the majority, family life is beautiful.
My point is – IVF, miscarriage, sick children…. it is more common than you may think, and, if you are going through this, you are not alone. Don’t be silent, or feel anxious about how it looks to others, find your voice. You don’t need to tell the world but just ask for help, tell someone, lean on someone let them in.
Your life is your own journey and whilst it might be hard at times, it is completely yours to live and to choose how you live.
But there is no need for silence.