Infertility and Loss: Sleeping With The Lights On

Updated: Nov 2, 2019

Written By: Nicole Stone

It is odd to reflect now as parents on the things we were afraid of as children. Our own parents assured us that monsters aren’t real, the thunder won’t hurt you, and there’s nothing to be afraid of in the dark. But can’t most fears be categorized together, as fear of the unknown? As adults, we experience this all the time, usually phrased in our over-anxious brains as “What will happen if…”

As a child I don’t remember being afraid of the dark specifically, although I did often worry about ‘bad’ things happening (the details of the ‘bad’ falling under that unknown category). So it is strange to find myself, a 30 year old adult, sleeping with every single light on and wracked with fear. My pillows are propped up in such a way that I can see directly into the looming cradle beside the bed, and my glasses are getting more twisted each night as I sleep with them glued to my face, for fear that even the moment it would take to find them would be too long.

‘Sleep’ is perhaps an overstatement here, I am mostly drifting in and out of a state of high alert. The object of my fear is tightly bundled, sleeping soundly within arms reach, not making a peep. He is close enough that I can see his chest rising and falling. And it is still the most terrifying sight. Conceivably there are elements of post-partum anxiety and overwhelm that lead me to this intense set of sleeping circumstances. But I think it’s more than that…

Looking back on that time now, I hear this phrase in my mind – infertility doesn’t go away. It had lurked just under the surface throughout my entire pregnancy, sneaking into my thoughts at the slightest hint of concern in an ultrasound or an appointment. Now, with the intensity of these newborn weeks, all my defenses are down and it has burst through to take its rightful place – infertility says, you can’t have the thing you want.

So I live this short period on high alert, ready to defend against… what? I’m not actually sure. As we stumble through this murky season of new parenthood, sleeping with the lights on is a way to feel in control; to shed light on any ‘unknown’ that may lie in wait. We are navigating a new chapter where there is nothing, and yet everything, to be afraid of. Infertility can feel relentless, but we are the parents now, and we must be stronger than that fear.

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