16 March, 2020

No Kidding 2020 Project: Day 8 - Write

When I went through my ectopics, I would struggle to sleep. I’d feel exhausted, from all the emotions, but when I would put my head down on the pillow to try to sleep, it would all churn around and around in my head. The what-happeneds as well as the what-ifs kept me awake. My second ectopic in particular took a long time to resolve with multiple hospitalisations and procedures, and trying to keep track of those, and so many blood tests and results and appointments, made it hard for me to let my brain stop thinking about it all. I had this tremendous need to remember it all. The same thing happened during IVF, and later as I began living with the definitive knowledge that I would never have children. Although there can often be relief from this decision, the grief and the what-might-have-beens and should-I-have-done-mores can be overwhelming. My brain did not find it relaxing!

During my ectopics, I discovered that simply writing down the details of my appointments and results and what was said or what happened that day helped relieve me of the need to remember. Later, I found that just emptying my thoughts onto paper – or computer screen – helped me to breathe out, and relax. Many people are very private, so writing (or maybe even just talking into your phone to record your thoughts) is something they only want to do for themselves. Others – like me, back in the early 2000s – find message boards or Fbk groups where we can share our experiences and fears with others who know what we’re going through. The ability to do that anonymously is also helpful for those who are nervous about having a public presence. Talking to others, helping those who might be a few weeks or months or years behind us, helps us feel less alone, and helps us help others. Being able to do that feels good, and I needed that. We all need that.

Later, as I began volunteering, and then eventually began blogging here, I found that responding to a question or issue someone else raised often helped me figure out what I thought. And by writing it down, I didn’t have to hold onto it. Being able to have relief from intense emotions or feelings of loss or failure is really important for our recovery and mental health. Being able to put those thoughts away for a while, or being able to figure out what we think, and what is important to us, really helps. I found that learning to understand myself and my emotions helped me regain control over them. All of this helped me fully re-enter society after loss, find my new normal, and embrace my life as it is.

Writing – or more accurately, recording, or perhaps expressing yourself (choose which fits best for you) – might start as simply as jotting some test results down. Or listing frustrations, or things that people have said to us that we want to remember, but don’t want to go over and over in our heads. It might stay at that level, and if it works for you, that’s great. Or maybe just venting once to a good friend might be all you need to sort things out, or to express hurt or frustration. Or maybe you might find other ways to heal, through craft or art or music or dance, for example. Perhaps you’ll follow a progression, as I have. Perhaps you’ll go further – some people have turned it into a calling, with articles published in major newspapers, or turn it into a business or career, turning loss into purpose. It’s different for all of us. But I do think it’s important to have an outlet, even if it is just a scrap of paper with a list.

I write about other areas of my life too. It stops me going over and over events, to myself, or – quite often – to my husband! If I can get something down on paper, it stops me fuming quite as much as I might otherwise. Last week, my 2020 Blogging with Friends project asked me to write an advance eulogy or note of appreciation to someone who is still living. I wrote about my father-in-law, but found it difficult. As I would write about something nice, I would remember things that had hurt or frustrated or confused me. I fumed and decided I wouldn’t write about him at all. But at least I had it all written down in draft, and I could let it go. By the next morning, I knew I could edit most of the negative stuff out, and focus on the positive. It was, as I wrote here on A Separate Life, a lesson in kindness, if not understanding. And you know what? I feel better about it – and him – now.

So it’s a lesson I keep learning. I have a number of draft posts written, about a whole range of issues – about childlessness and not about that at all – that I might never post. But the act of writing them, of really developing and articulating my thoughts, feelings and beliefs, almost always helps. I highly recommend it.


  1. So true for me, as well: processing something with words helps me clarify, release, and heal. Doing in on my blog also helps me feel not so alone.

    And also like you: lots of draft posts!

  2. So true! Even just writing down stuff to get it out of your head, listmaking, is such a great way to alleviate anxiety. I am keeping a Pandemic Journal right now, with info on our food stores, and what's happening in terms of cases and closures and local info, and it does calm me (once I stop freaking about the numbers going up up up). Writing saved me during the infertility/adoption years, and writing to connect with others was a game-changer. Great post! Loved the part about the lesson in kindness, too...using writing to discover good things nestled in with the bad that you might otherwise not see as clearly.

  3. I am late to comment on this one, but it is all SO TRUE. I have not kept a formal journal for years -- I always thought I would keep a pregnancy diary, but for some reason, I did not. :( But I did write about my pregnancy in detail on my blog, 10 years after the fact. I did keep a diary with the details of my fertility appointments & drug intake, etc., what the doctor said and so forth, & later used them as fodder for a blog series too. I think posting to listservs & message boards, and then later on my blog, has taken the place of journalling for me. Whatever works, right? And writing, for me, definitely helps, no matter what the forum!