Your journey with parenthood following loss and grief
Amy Brown, Clinical Hypnotherapist at The Power of Your Mind, discusses continuing your journey with parenthood positively following loss and grief.
Emma & Adam Haslam know first-hand the trials and tribulations and the mental destruction caused by being unable to conceive naturally. Their journey, with all its ups and downs, led to the birth of their son, Albie, and to the birth of ‘Your IVF abroad’. Emma and I met through a local event and immediately she was open about her own story.
I became a mother of two boys following two miscarriages, both early on in pregnancy. I do know there was a time when I wondered if I would ever be able to have children and that was a despairing feeling. I can only fully know how difficult I found my own losses and I can never know exactly what anyone else is going through.
As a clinical hypnotherapist I work with clients with a wide range of problems, many anxiety, depression and stress related. This includes clients who have experienced loss and grief for various reasons including fertility issues.
At the point where conception is feeling out of reach it is perfectly normal to have a wide range of diverse, competing and complex thoughts and feelings. These can be about your past, present and future. If you are considering fertility treatment you will have experienced loss in some form.
All of your feelings and emotions are valid.
There is no right or wrong way of how to experience the difficulties that your path has brought. It can help to allow yourself space and time to grieve the losses and to share those feelings with others who can support you. Grief is absolutely natural and normal after loss. The journey of grief has several stages:
Denial – A state of shock, believing, for example, that a diagnosis is wrong or all will be ok.
Anger – Feeling a sense of unfairness, maybe angry at yourself or at others including medics or your partner.
Bargaining – Behaving in a way to do your best to make it work, make it better.
Despair – Feeling grief, sadness and hopelessness; like there is no point.
Acceptance – Taking back control over your life. Exploring new options for the future.
Strong emotions are natural following loss. The feelings you experience are likely to change over time and include sadness, anxiety, shock, shame, anger, envy, guilt, regret, isolation, resentment and fear. Losses from fertility related issues include far more than the loss of a pregnancy or the inability to conceive. Reasons for loss can be emotional, physical, social, cultural or religious. For example:
being unable to conceive
one or more failed pregnancies
discovering you or your partner’s fertility issues
unanswered difficulties in being able to conceive
not becoming a parent
expectation about how you expected your body to perform
not being accepted onto a fertility programme
reduction in time frame to have children
expectation from others to become a parent/ have a child
having to have decided to use an egg or sperm donor
knowing that either you or your partner will not be genetically related to your IVF baby
Emma told me how she now understands that had she dealt with her emotional issues from her losses it would have been much easier. “Starting IVF cycles with so much sadness and anxiety was all consuming” explains Emma. “Using a double donor added another complex layer to what was already difficult for both me and Adam. I had no idea where to go, or who to turn to for support and was just keen to get on with treatment each time, which in retrospect was not a good idea for me. Since having my son I have had therapy for PTSD and PND, to help process my journey with Infertility and loss, which has helped immensely. I finally feel like my old self-again, a changed version perhaps, but one where I feel happy again ”.
Depression and grief can seem similar but they are actually quite different. Experiencing sleep difficulties, changes in eating habits and extreme sadness happen with both grief and depression. With grief these feelings tend to fluctuate and there may even be small moments of happiness. Depression involves more constant feelings of despair with negative thoughts of worthlessness or hopelessness. The body begins to shut down to protect the sufferer.
It may be necessary to address where you are now so you can move forward with your journey. If you are at the point of despair, or if you think you may be depressed, it is important to seek professional help. It is absolutely possible to get yourself to a point where you can heal. You can take back control over your conscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings. A well mind with positive thoughts aids your healing.
Dealing with loss is never easy. Here are a few suggestions to help.
Breathe. Just sit and breathe. Gently allow your exhalation to increase in length. Allow it to become longer than the inhalation. Release negative thoughts or feelings as you breathe out.
Do something for you that you enjoy. You may not feel like it but do it anyway.
Take time to be with the emotion you are feeling whatever that is. Learn to be with that feeling and get to know what it is. You may find it easier to sense its shape, colour, movement or location than what it actually is. This is about acknowledgement of the feelings and emotions that are present for you. You may like to label the emotion or name it. You don’t have to like them but the reality is they are there.
Begin a journal. Each day take time to acknowledge the feelings you have and write them down. Perhaps envy is felt as a gripping stone like feeling in the stomach and you label it ‘grip’, ‘stone’ or ‘envy’. It is a way of releasing the feelings from within you and letting them out after you have acknowledged their existence.
It may help to connect with the losses with a kind and caring ritual for each. They can be appropriate and unique to you. Maybe scattering petals in a breeze, throwing painted pebbles in a stream, lighting a candle and meditating or planting seeds. Be mindful about the process and repeat as you like.
Speak to a therapist. Professional support can help you to deal with your loss, manage your grief and support you to move forward positively with the next phase of your life. Find someone that you connect with and are comfortable talking to. Hypnotherapy works on the subconscious mind and is often a short term therapy. Hypnosis can be relaxing and a great cleanser to deal with the past with transformation being quicker than many expect.
Amy Brown, Clinical Hypnotherapist, uses tailored therapy with Hypnotherapy, CBT, NLP and coaching/counselling techniques. She works on many issues including anxiety, stress, depression, trauma, PTSD, sleep issues and OCD.
The Power of Your Mind, 07846 376306 https://thepowerofyourmind.co.uk/services/anxiety-stress-management/
Image Loss - A sculpture by Jane Mortimer Photo: K. Mitch