With everything that’s going on in the world right now there may be a tendency to reduce our suffering or tell ourselves that there are bigger things going on. Maybe that leads you to feeling that you shouldn’t feel the way you feel.
When you hear stories about it being a risky time to get pregnant, how does that make you feel? It’s hard to hear that as well as the talk about the expected baby boom in 9 month’s time, isn’t it. People who don’t get it can be so flippant about pregnancy (this is still a trigger for me).
Fertility can be a long and winding path of uncertainty, this is particularly true right now. There are many setbacks we come across. Everything from each month when your period arrives to having treatment cancelled indefinitely. Maybe it’s yet another pregnancy announcement or disappointing test results.
But how do you pick yourself up again after each knock? Do you find it’s getting harder as time goes on to get back up? I know I did. It can be so hard to have dared to dream of what you so desperately want, to allow yourself to believe it’s getting closer, that you are on your way to motherhood, just to have those dreams crushed again.
You can regain control of your fertility journey. I know that may seem hard to believe right now.
Hope vs. Fear
Do you still allow yourself to get your hopes up? Or have you stopped as a form of self-protection?
I hear this such a lot, that we don’t allow ourselves to hope because of the fear of disappointment. But does not allowing yourself to hope really stop the pain of things not happening the way you wanted? I don’t think it does. It hurts just as much. What do you think?
I wish I could promise you that all the disappointment and setbacks were in the past, but infertility doesn’t work like that does it. Just as you think you’ve got it together, feeling positive, feeling strong, bang there’s the Facebook post announcing yet another pregnancy. And your mood spirals downwards again leaving you feeling so flat. All those good thoughts out the window.
So, what do you do? Maybe you keep busy, pretend you’re fine, distract yourself from those difficult feelings that keep creeping in. Or do you switch to self-sabotage, grab the bottle of wine which at least stops the pain for a little while. Or perhaps you shut down, let the feelings overwhelm you and take to your bed, shut out the rest of the world because you’ve had enough.
Any of these coping mechanisms are ok to use some of the time, but not as the only way you have to deal with difficult feelings or setbacks. If any or all of these are your go-to method of coping you’re probably finding that they work ok for a while but those difficult feeling come back faster and faster each time.
Plus your energy reserves for coping with other stuff is reducing too. You’ve become short tempered, snapping at little things you used to be able to cope with. You’re not as patient as you used to be.
So how do you pick yourself back up each time? Here are my top tips for doing just that.
1. Allow yourself to feel the way you feel
Rather than suppressing difficult emotions acknowledge them. Name them and find the message it is trying to give you.
Maybe its anger? Anger that this is happening to you when it’s so easy for everyone else. Anger isn’t the negative emotion it’s made of to be. It is there to make sure you are being treated fairly. What you’re going through is not fair, and you have every right to feel angry about that.
Squashing down anger only makes it worse. Believing that feeling angry makes you a bad person only adds another layer of difficult and unnecessary feelings onto what is already painful enough. If you’re not able to feel happy for others because you’re having such a hard time that’s ok.
2. Give yourself time
Struggling with infertility is a grieving process. We are grieving not necessarily because of loss, but we grieve the picture we have in our mind of what we thought our family would look like. This is a dream we have for such a long time and the uncertainty of when or even if our dream will become reality is heart-breaking. So, give yourself the time to grieve.
3. Allow yourself to cry
Crying is so therapeutic, who hasn’t felt loads better after a good cry? Tears release hormones which are healing, so let it out. Crying is also exhausting so give yourself the time and space to rest.
Ok so now those are done we can think about moving forward.
4. Write it down
I’m a big fan of journaling. Getting words onto the page that describe how we’re feeling and possibly even why we’re feeling that way. Sometimes what comes up is surprising, sometimes it reveals how we really feel, other times it helps resolve feelings allowing you to work it out in such a simple way.
One journaling technique I discovered recently which I have used and love is this one. Name the difficult emotion you’re feeling, maybe its anger/sadness/fear/anxiety/stress/guilt/shame.
Then at the top of your page write the following: Hi (name emotion). You’re safe and welcome here. I’m here to listen. What are you trying to tell me?
Then write whatever comes to mind, until you’re done.
When you’re finished put on your favourite upbeat song and have a dance and sing to let those difficult feelings go and lift your mood.
5. Get support from someone who gets it
This might be a friend, colleague, someone in your family, maybe the fabulous online ttc community, or maybe specialist therapeutic support.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say they regretted getting therapeutic support. But people often regret not going sooner. I often wonder when looking after our mental health and emotional well-being will be seen as important as taking care of our physical health. Asking for support at a difficult time is not a sign of weakness but of massive strength.
Just before I go I want to remind you to be kind to yourself particularly during this difficult time. Your feelings are valid and what’s going on in the rest of the world is irrelevant to how you are feeling in relation to your fertility. I hope you are safe and well, sending lots of love.
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