You’re not alone (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)
After her second miscarriage, Miranda Ward found herself online, scrolling networks where other grieving parents meet to share their stories.
‘I read in tears – comforting tears – because all these women had gone through this same thing and had messages of support,’ says the 33-year-old writer. ‘Knowing these people were out there was incredibly important.’
Miranda, originally from California but now based in Oxford, wrote a memoir about her experience of existing in a space where she simply didn’t know whether or not she would be a mother.
Adrift: Fieldnotes From Almost-Motherhood chronicles the six years in which Miranda struggled to conceive, experienced recurrent miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, an operation to remove her left fallopian tube and two cycles of IVF.
It starts with the decision she and her now husband took to have a child.
‘I hadn’t really considered that it might be more complicated than just making a decision,’ she says. ‘What happens when your body isn’t cooperating?’
Miranda wrote Adrift: Fieldnotes From Almost-Motherhood after her own struggles trying to conceive (Picture: Miranda Ward)
Miranda finished writing the first draft the week she went for the embryo transfer for the second IVF cycle, which resulted in the birth of her son, Felix.
‘It was important for me to end the book before I knew if I was to have a baby,’ she says, and that’s understandable given the book focuses on the not knowing: the hinterlands of parenthood.
‘Everyone around you seems to be having babies without any effort. You feel like the only person in the world for whom this is a struggle.’
Miranda hopes Adrift will also reach those who don’t have direct experience with infertility and baby loss, citing unhelpful comments such as ‘at least you can conceive’ and ‘at least you are young’.
Miranda’s book aims to show the reality of going through infertility and baby loss
‘The “at least” comments are people trying to find something hopeful, which is natural,’ she says. ‘But it’s unhelpful because it doesn’t cancel out the grief.’
Open communication around infertility is where the internet can help. Alice Rose, for example, quit her job to campaign for infertility awareness, something she does largely via social media: @thisisalicerose includes a campaign called ‘Think! What Not To Say!’
Meanwhile, James Kemsley, a male support consultant for IVF and baby loss who has personally experienced six failed IVF cycles and early miscarriage, works to improve support for men.
‘There are very few platforms for men to open up about fertility,’ says Kemsley. ‘Have you ever heard men discussing their fertility at the bar?’
Miranda concludes that swimming and writing about the sense of community at the pool helped with her sense of identity.
‘There’s something lovely about snippets of lives in changing rooms,’ she says. ‘They made me feel less isolated.’
Adrift: Fieldnotes From Almost-Motherhood (Weidenfeld & Nicholson) is out today.
Where you can find infertility support on Instagram
Erica M McAfee set up @sistersinloss to give black women a space to share their stories (Picture: @sistersinloss)
This space is a support system for black women sharing stories of baby loss and infertility, and recommending a whole raft of relevant media including podcasts and further reading.
Sharing perspectives on every aspect of fertility – spanning IVF, childfree living, surrogacy and more – and with a wicked appreciation of an on-point meme or two, this is an account that crackles with energy.
Chris from @ittakes_three gives his side of the story (Picture: @ittakes_three)
A man’s perspective on infertility delivered with honesty, humour and heart, and without any whiff of personal branding.
This online fertility magazine is run by two women with plenty of experience of both failed and successful IVF. They offer live Q&As and are committed to supporting men as well as women.
Do you have a story to share?
Get in touch by emailing [email protected].
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