Lyndsey (UK): Life beyond the blueprint
When I had my miscarriage the IVF consultant practically high fived me, apparently most couples don’t get that far.
And as he excitedly starting planning the next cycle, with different drugs, as it was such good news that my body could get pregnant, I was numb, confused and struggled to see the plus side. Trying for children had been one of the most devastating experiences of my life. And here I was being congratulated for losing a baby.
The irony is I never wanted children; I even said to my husband when we met that if he wanted kids I probably wasn’t the girl for him. But social pressure to meet the blueprint of life, his broodiness, my own need to fit in, be normal, and make him happy took over and before I knew it we were trying. It wasn’t working. And I was sat in IVF clinics feeling like a fraud for stealing someone else’s place. Surrounded by women whose soul and sole purpose was to be a mother. I never felt that way. I was a fake. And yet, here I was, pumped with drugs hoping that this was going to work.
During this time, one by one everyone I knew fell pregnant, every ally suddenly lost to motherhood. They no longer understood me, and I no longer understood them. My support network disappeared as I became the only one left without children. Friends who had been together five minutes or five years, it was indiscriminate, everyone was having babies. And with each announcement I felt sick, it was another reminder of what I saw as my failings as a woman.
I felt exiled. I didn’t get invited to anything to do with children, because I assume my friends were worried I would feel uncomfortable, or they would. But it just felt like being left out. When we did get together they spoke a different language, had experiences I couldn’t relate to, like they had all been on holiday without me. I couldn’t join in.
They’d wave it off with how glad I should be not to be invited because it would be boring – you know because kids are dull and annoying. Or because they wanted grown up time with me and the kids will get in the way. I got, and still get, a lot of “we are living through you” comments, because our lives are over, you’re so lucky you don’t have kids. You’re not tied down, you’re the star in your own movie, and we’re just extras. You’re not missing anything. Kids, blergh.
People were trying to be kind, but it felt patronising. Because people love their children. But suddenly there was an act put on just for me, to make me feel better, but all it did was remind me that I was different. And so I put on a front of being ok, because I couldn’t talk about how hurtful it was or admit that I was grieving for the baby I had never wanted and had lost.
And I had desperately wanted to be pregnant, for it to work, for life to be fixed, to not be the sad case, the lost cause. For my body to work with me, not against me. Then when I got pregnant, there was a relief it had worked, and then a fear. I didn’t know if this was what I really wanted. But it felt good to be part of the mother gang for that brief period. When I had my miscarriage, because it was early it felt like it didn’t count to people. They didn’t realise it took two years to get 7 weeks pregnant. Two years. They hadn’t seen the physical failure I faced each month. Period cramps felt like an internal drum beat, an inescapable sign that there was no baby.
The next IVF cycle was unsuccessful. And I felt like a failure, isolated and incredibly lonely. In trying to fix my marriage, it broke with grief. I had somehow lost everything. So then I was not invited to any couples events, urgh she hasn’t got kids or a husband whatever will we talk to her about! The isolation just grew. What now, I am mid 30s, no kids, I don’t want kids, and I am divorced?!? Where do I fit?
I didn’t fit. There was no “never wanted them, did it for my husband, couldn’t have them, had two failed IVF cycles and a missed miscarriage when my body thought it was still pregnant so still had sore boobs and felt sick, now don’t have a baby or a husband” category. It was crippling.
Infertility for me has come in three parts – animal, human and social. The animal in me is confused, if you're not here to make other humans what is your purpose? The human side of me feels the trauma of the process, the loss, the grief and is still recovering. And the social side has to deal with people who just don’t know what to do with me. And feeling like an outsider.
Change happened when I read ‘The Secret’, about the law of attraction. Being grateful for what you do have – not focussing on what you don’t. And I realised I had so much to be grateful for – I was healthy, I was loved, I was lucky. I needed to be OK in my own category, to not be the blueprint. I am different. So be proud to be different.
I started a blog on instagram @nottheblueprint, promoting that when you don’t fit the blueprint you can break the mould. And it changed my life. I took a career break and went travelling, and I’m now a personal coach who gives talks about my experience, empowering and inspiring others to live their best life and achieve their goals.
Connecting with people has been critical in my recovery from the past. Realising that as humans we are all different, but normal for the emotions we feel. Life can be tough but that there is always hope, happier days ahead and life beyond the blueprint.
To follow Lyndsey’s journey, please follow her on @nottheblueprint.
Lyndsey will also be speaking at BelongCon at Spring Forward Festival 2018 on 29th March – this will be live-streamed at 6pm. You can find full details here: www.facebook.com/belongcon