Back in August I had an NHS counselling session which I made through our fertility clinic. I had to wait about 6 weeks for the appointment and had absolutely no idea what to expect.
I wanted the focus of the session to be on moving forward and asked the counsellor if she would be able to provide me with any tools or coping strategies to feel stronger. I told her that I wanted to be able to speak about the miscarriage without crying. That it was important to me to be able speak about it without falling over my words or my voice cracking in my throat. Without my eyes leaking.
Well, my eyes leaked through the whole session. The whole 45 minutes. From the minute I opened my mouth to the minute I walked out the door, soggy tissues in hand.
We started the session with going over how I had ended up in the clinic, what had lead us to needing ivf, the miscarriage and the two surgeries surrounding that (she had clearly read my notes which was comforting as words failed me and she was able to fill in the blanks), we talked a bit about my family and the support system I have in place, if my husband and I might do something to remember the baby. It’s all a bit of a teary blur to me now. I remember leaving the session feeling like a weight had been lifted and my initial reaction was wow, that really helped. But looking back from where I am now, I’m really not that sure it did.
The counsellor was a very nice lady. But did she give me anything to work with, anything to help me with the next steps? No.
She did reassure me that I was ‘normal’, that my coping strategies were ‘normal’, that my continued and often unexpected feelings of sadness, anxiety and grief were, well, ‘normal’. But that’s not what I went for. I haven’t ever needed reassurance that I’m normal, whatever that word really means.
At the end of the 45 minutes she told me I was welcome to make another appointment if I felt I needed to, but really I didn’t. The way she said it and had gone on about how normal I was, made me feel as if perhaps I was wasting her time and NHS money.
So, if it taught me anything I suppose it taught me that I’m doing ok, really, in the grand scheme of things. Those anguished and raw feelings of not being able to cope, to move on or try again that I had so desperately wanted help with when I made the appointment for counselling, had already lessened in the six week wait to see her. As for the strength? I know this has to come from me, and as time passes I am feeling more and more like I am able to do this for myself. I still worry about strength and how strong I am. But how do you measure something like that? You can’t compare it or assess it against anything else. So I need to let go of obsessing over it. If I’m strong I will be strong, and if I’m not then someone will be there to be strong for me.
Above all I wanted, and still want, to feel about ivf how I did the first time around, like nothing is impossible. And really, all I can do to get back to this is trust in the timing of my life.
After all, what’s meant for you will not pass you by.