I decided when I realized I had a road of infertility ahead of me that I didn’t like to be forced into feeling sad about things I was “supposed” to be sad about or even “expected” to be sad about. I worked on seeing the hope of what could be and focusing on the advancements in medicine. If you hang out with me long enough, you may hear me exclaim when I hear of something super cool that was invented ..”Wow! I love living in 2020!” (er maybe 2020 is a terrible year to celebrate but I am implying that it is awesome to live in a time where you can know something like the gender of your babies before they event transfer them into you. LIKE WHAT! How cool is that?!)… However, the reality is that even though I work to stay out of the stereotype emotions that come with infertility that doesn’t mean that I don’t have dark days.
Actually, 2019 was my darkest day. Yes… you heard me right. I am literally lumping 365 days of 2019 into what I would consider my worst “day”. LOL. It. was. awful. I know 2020 has been a terrible year for a lot of us with the pandemic, schools shutting down and just things aren’t normal anymore. 2020 has been a hard year for sure. Personally though, for me, 2019 was worse.
I am sharing this because I had someone reach out to me at the beginning of this year (2020) and say “How are you so happy when you’re struggling with infertility?” She couldn’t find joy or hope, just frustration and disappointment. Keep in mind, when she asked me this, I had just miscarried my girls 1 month prior. Admittedly, the stereotype expectation of that would be that I would be a MESS on the floor and someone would be like “Clean up on isle 9”! LOL Although I was struggling and losing my girls left me empty and filled with grief and pain, it was nothing like the totality of 2019 and the darkness that came with it.
The darkness came because I kept trying to understand “why” infertility was happening to me. WHY did I have to go through this? I am a good person, or I am always trying to be a better version of myself, didn’t that mean I qualified to be worthy of a baby? WHY couldn’t my body just figure it out? WHY was I turning 32 and still childless? THIS WAS NOT HOW I SAW MY LIFE. The more focused on why me and why it was happening to me, the harder my year became. I distanced myself from friends and family. I ate my feelings at times and checked out every night into the abyss of FRIENDS (Bless FRIENDS for being the easiest show to watch).
I was a mess.
I had given up.
I was very tired of fighting this fruitless battle.
At one point in the middle of 2019, I had been so obtuse in a conversation with John that we got into a disagreement for 7 hours on a road trip. Imagine that, we were locked in the car, while driving on the road and couldn’t walk away to cool down. It just got worse and worse and lasted SEVEN WHOLE HOURS….Can you guess that looking back on that I have no idea what we argued about? LOL I couldn’t even tell you. It didn’t matter. What matter is that I just argued and fought with him because I was so frustrated with my current reality of being childless that I took it out on him for no reason. And can we slow clap for John? HE IS A CHAMP because he patiently worked through it with me. He didn’t give up on me and told me he loved me even when I said mean things thinking it would make me feel better and it didn’t.
I remember texting my therapist a few days later after I came up for air after the 7 hour argument hangover. I texted something to the effect of…”I need help. I am enslaved by the expectations of what I thought my life would be.” I was specifically talking about the expectation of thinking I would be neck deep in children and all the ups and downs that being a mom brings.
Talk about big emotions. The worst part of infertility is that it really is disappointment after disappointment of expectations being let down and us girls can only take so much. Amiright? To get your hopes up every single month only to have a let down every single month takes a toll on your heart and your mind. You begin to see the glass half empty. Your once clear, positive outlook transforms into this dark, scarce view where you can only see a few steps ahead into the darkness that surrounds you….
There are some things I did to get out of the darkness and there are some things I still do when I feel the darkness approaching again.
The main thing I did was recognize that I was afraid or had big emotion. I would say it out loud, like, “I am afraid my body won’t work and that I will never have children. I am afraid that there is no way around this and that I have to just go through it and I don’t want to.” No matter how crazy that might sound to an outsider looking in, it felt VERY real at times. Recognizing my fears was important for me to actually let them go. Saying them out loud took away their power and I then was able to release them. It changed me.
Part of saying them out loud is also acknowledging the pain that may flow from the fear or emotions that you may have. I learned to sit with the feelings for a little while and let them teach me something. They taught me what I was afraid of. They taught me that if I acknowledge the emotions and give them space in my heart for a minute, I can then release them and move on from them. If I don’t acknowledge them, then they keep pestering me and it just makes things worse.
Another thing I did was work with a therapist. Not all therapists are created equal. Do your research and find one you connect with deeply. I chose a woman because I knew she could actually grasp the pain and heartache of my longing for children. On my very first visit with her, as I was crying and telling her the weight of my pain and how it all felt, she cried with me. I asked her why she was crying and she said, “I am human too and to see another human carrying this kind of pain is hard.” It was so tender to me. I advise you, if you are struggling deeply, find a therapist who you connect with and get some help getting your mind right. I needed a healthy mind to navigate 2019 and she helped me get it right. If you can’t afford a therapist, find your tribe of women who can be there for you. If you don’t have a tribe, then please, please, PLEASE message me and I will be part of your tribe. No one should go through this alone.
I also realized this infertility journey wasn’t really about my babies. I mean, having babies would be incredible! However, at this point, my pain and anger was so great and my heart so empty that I have come to realize there is a lot of healing I have needed to do to take care of myself. The darkness had come in like a fog - slow but thick and at one point I couldn’t recognize myself. I didn’t know I could be so emotionally despondent and weak. I am normally brave and ready to take on a challenge. I had grown weary and I knew that this grief I carried at the expectations failed over the years had taken a toll on my heart and my mind and emptied my emotional bank account. I realized that I need to focus on filling my emotional bank account with changing my focus from myself to my focus on my relationship with God. As I have changed this focus, my emotional bank account has become completely full, nearly over flowing! But that is a blog post for another day. :)
Today, when I get discouraged (and I totally did just a few days ago on Saturday) I find that I follow the same path I mentioned above. I woke up feeling sad and when my husband asked me how I slept, I responded with saying the words out loud, “I feel sad today”. I then tried to ignore the feelings (how have I not learned to not do this already lol) and got my workout clothes on and yet I couldn’t find it in me to exercise. Instead, I sat on my couch and cried. I acknowledged the big emotions I was feeling and then I turned to my tribe. I needed to express what I was feeling, get it all off my chest, and make space for it. My tribe helped me see that it was ok to be sad and it was ok to not be ok. Then I turned to God and asked him to give me strength…. I wasn’t miraculously happy after all of that, but it felt good to let out my sad feelings about my struggles with infertility that I still have.
Just know that when the hard days come, you aren't alone. If you feel lost as you are navigating big emotions, try acknowledging the pain, sitting with it and learning from it, turning to source and then letting your tribe help you an embrace you through those big emotions. That is what helps me and I know it will help you.
The greatest lesson I have learned with hard days is that there is never a quick fix to big emotions that come on the hard days. We have to acknowledge them, give them space to teach us and then learn to release them and move on.