Fertility and Motherhood is Rarely a Straight Line

To be honest, up until January of 2020, I didn’t truly understand or empathise with fertility struggles. I was blissfully unaware of the many facets and layers of bringing forth babies into this world, as my first pregnancy was highly and boringly normal, apart from the hyperemesis. My sister had experienced an absolutely heart-shattering loss of her baby boy after he was born, but I knew her and her beautiful son’s situation was a very rare case and not the norm. I breezed through pregnancy as a healthy then 23-year-old, and I filed myself into the category of fertility being a straight line. Rinse and repeat. We will go again when we feel ready, and it will be perfect and uncomplicated.

As much as I think having a positive mindset helps pre-conception, pregnancy and beyond, I wish someone had told me and informed me of the facts. I also wish the topics of loss and infertility were not taboo or embarrassing and that women and men feel like they need to put a brave face on.

The stark reality is, it is extremely rare that the whole reproductive life of a man and a woman is a complete straight line. Neither is the parenthood journey for that matter. I’m sure there are a few, but there wouldn’t be THAT many people who fell pregnant with their children first try each time, experienced a beautifully-glowy-perfect pregnancy and then were blessed with a pair of unicorns. I’m just not buying that.

I reckon there are lots of couples who fall pregnant easily, but their children may suffer from really hard conditions earth side.

I reckon there are a lot of couples who experience loss after a loss, who can finally hold their rainbow in their arms today.

I reckon there are lots of couples who pray for years to even fall pregnant, and then eventually are blessed with two or 3 more surprises.

I reckon there are lots of couples who have straight forward first pregnancies, and then suffer from secondary infertility or pregnancy loss when trying for siblings.

I reckon there are lots of couples who have adopted children and are now a family.

I reckon there are lots of women who don’t struggle to fall pregnant but have a really hard time with breastfeeding or newborn weight gain.

I reckon there are many women who accidentally fall pregnant, and then become anxious about becoming a mother.

I reckon there are many women who struggle with an unclear endometriosis diagnosis and have no idea what their fertility even looks like.

I reckon there are many women who want children, but also want time to thrive in their career.

I reckon there are lots of couples who have a random miscarriage in their first pregnancy, but then go on to have uncomplicated pregnancies after.

I reckon there are many couples who fall pregnant easily without medical assistance but then battle postnatal depression or anxiety after their baby is born.

I reckon there are some women who are traumatized by their own birth story, years on.

I reckon that there are many women who find themselves fitting into at least one of those categories at some point in their fertility or motherhood journeys.

Many of the above statements aren’t recognised or known by the outsider. We are so tight lipped about anything we don’t see as normal to do with pregnancy and motherhood while all the while we don’t realise that all of these situations happen on a daily basis to so many women across the world, and even in our own backyard. The situations I have listed above (and there are a million other wavy lines to motherhood and beyond, trust me!) include nothing that you need to be ashamed, or embarrassed about. Just because fertility or motherhood was a wavy, zig-zaggy, fragmented, or tangled line for you, does not make you any less of a woman. You have not failed or any less of a queen than the next girl. Your story is unique to you, and we need to start celebrating the differences more than questioning them and pulling them apart to analyse and torture ourselves or even each other with.

Of course, you’ll come across a unicorn mum and her unicorn offspring at least once in your life (it’s all chance right?!) and you will feel like a potato next to her. Maybe it looks like her line was perfectly straight. Maybe her bump is a perfect basketball, maybe her birth was a majestic home birth with a professional photographer and her hair was in a perfect messy bun, with not a bead of sweat in sight. Maybe her baby slept through from 2 weeks old and she likes to tell you about it every day via Instagram stories and Facebook status’. Maybe she fell pregnant first go, while you were on your eleventh month of trying, knowing what next month meant. Maybe she tells you she had no trouble breastfeeding, while you heat your baby’s bottle in the microwave.

I strongly urge you whilst encountering these women, keep in mind, they 1000000% have something going on in the background that you don’t know about. Her relationship with her partner might be slowly crumbling even though social media depicts differently. She may be dealing with mental health issues as she transitions into motherhood but is not telling anyone. She might be struggling with handling a toddler and a baby but puts on a brave face to her friends. She may slap a Clarendon filter over her selfies to hide her dark circles. She may not be enjoying motherhood even though she is the first to organise baby play dates and catch ups. She may be absolutely dying to get back to work. These women need our love and support too, because they are really are each of us in the eyes of another.

I want to assure you girls, while our babies may not all be unicorns, we are all unicorn women. We are all trying our hardest to navigate fertility and motherhood, in amongst every other thing going on in our lives. Comparing each of our individual stories would be like comparing apples and oranges, which is counter-productive and proves nothing. No one is doing a better job than anyone else at falling pregnant or raising children even if it feels like unicorns are closing in around you. Be confident in your own story being written, no matter what page you’re on, even when it’s hard. Find your supports and know that you are treasured and that you and your story matters, is valid, and is beautiful. You never know who is looking at you and thinking massive unicorn vibes.

Also let yourself accept that things are hard sometimes. We don’t need to sit and surrender into the hard and set up camp there, but it is human and healthy to recognise that we are struggling, hurting or mourning. Just know you are not alone and there is always a way through into better times and better days.

Caitlin x