I was so happy to be included in the blog tour as part of National Fertility Awareness Week for :
Dear You: A Letter to my Unborn Children by Tessa Broad
Written by someone who, like me, desperately wanted to have a family, Tessa embarked on the rollercoaster of IVF and experienced the hope & failure that inevitably comes with that journey. At the same time, normal life carried on around her and she had to navigate the complexities that come with just living, being in a relationship and learning to cope with grief and heartache. Treatment unfortunately wasn’t successful for Tessa. She had to grieve, heal and learn to live a life she never expected. As part of healing process she wrote a very honest and personal letter to the children that she so badly wanted, but never got the opportunity to meet.
On so many levels this book struck a chord with me. Entering the world of fertility treatment can be daunting and this book describes just what treatment requires of you, the impact on every aspect of your life, how we have to re-arrange our lives, put our lives on hold even. How we hit the low points when it doesn’t work and yet somehow find the strength to go again, and again. It describes perfectly how it wreaks havoc with who we are, our relationship, our sex lives, our diets, our careers, our friendships, well just about every aspect of everyday living. It took over her life and it became her ultimate focus, just like it did for me and many of those that I know travelling the same road. In explaining to her unborn children the lengths that she was prepared to go to get them, the number of times she put herself back onto the treatment treadmill, she shows just how much love there is for them, even though in reality they don’t exist. In her heart they do and always will.
As I read the book, I thought many times, she is describing me, what I’ve been through & how I’ve felt! It is so rare to find books that hit so close to home where infertility is concerned. Most end with the inevitable miracle baby, this book is the first one I have read where that isn’t the case. Tessa takes her unborn children on a journey through what she hoped their life would have been like, the values that she would have tried to instil in them & explores how she would have allowed them the space to grow with confidence into whoever they wanted to be. It is something that I too have thought about. What kind of mum would I have been? What would my children be like? How would we have raised them? It is a very brave step to write about a future that you so much wanted and yet no matter how hard you seem to try, it just didn’t work out the way you planned.
Tessa describes perfectly how it feels to be infertile in a very child focussed world. This quote struck a chord:
“…being with children didn’t soothe me as I had hoped it might, it made the ache to have my own even harder to bear”
I thought I was the only one that struggled to cope around other peoples children, even when I so desperately wanted to be around them, to spend time with them and to experience them in my life but yet for some reason I just couldn’t cope with it. Throughout the book Tessa describes how it feels to want to engage in life, but somehow it is just to painful, too raw and filled with too much heartache. And yet she managed to find the strength to keep going.
This book made me feel normal & less alone, so many times it described how I have felt throughout my own journey and yet I have struggled to express it to those around me. She reminds us of the lasting impact that infertility can have on us & the need for it to be acknowledged:
“…infertility is life changing. It is stressful, painful and deeply upsetting and to have it ignored or brushed aside, diminishes the experience.”
Tessa continues her story through the highs and lows of her relationships & ultimately to the point where she realised that there would be no children in her future. It wasn’t the path she had planned to travel and yet she has managed to get to the point in her life where childlessness doesn’t define her. In writing to her unborn children it felt like she was in fact nurturing them through the life she had planned for them and then through her love for them she let them go, in return she allowed herself to pursue a very fulfilling and worthwhile life. I can only imagine how hard this book must have been to write and yet at the same time it feels like she allowed herself to move forward from the havoc that infertility had created.
This book is a brilliant example of life happening whilst we are busy making other plans, we don’t always know where it will take us, but that’s ok. We may not have the life we had planned but that doesn’t mean to say we can’t still live a rich life, full of great experiences and find passions for things that we never thought possible. She also reminds us to put ourselves first and to try to be kind to ourselves, always.
A must read for anyone trying to navigate the world of IVF and perhaps wondering what happens if it never works. I can guarantee that this will fill you full of hope and make you feel less alone. Tessa managed to continually find strength through her infertility journey and beyond. A huge thank you to Tessa for sharing her story.
Dear You is written by Tessa Broad and published by RedDoor