“What meaning CAN this have in my life”?
Difficult conception has a way of chipping away at our physical, mental and emotional bodies like nothing else I can think of. Whether one has a specific diagnosis or not, the first emotional reaction is one of disbelief and hesitation in grasping that this very basic human right is being denied you. At the very least, it’s not happening in the way you imagined.
The lucky ones conceive early in this endeavor. The rest would like to wish them well, and truly do. At the same time there’s a sense that it should happen for me that way. Why should it be so easy for others when we have to work so hard and at such expense?
Fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, high FSH, low AMH, unexplained or male factors don’t quite answer ‘why’ either. But if we change the question, it may lead to insightful discoveries.
There are approaches and questions that are helpful AND useful.
ACKNOWLEDGE – ACCEPT – TRANSFORM
Difficult conception (NOT infertility, see below*), is where you are right now. You may not understand. You may be angry, confused, annoyed, resentful or anxious. You may believe that it’s a result of something that occurred earlier in life or a congenital condition inherited from your parents. It makes many women feel “less than” or somehow broken. These are all pretty normal reactions.
The real danger comes with being stuck in any of these reactions: staying angry or anxious, blaming others or blaming yourself, obsessing or moving at some undertermined pace towards depression. All are understandable. But none are helpful to you, to your situation or your life.
This may seem very basic, but we must first acknowledge the situation, as it is. Here’s where I am and this is what’s happening. If there is a specific diagnosis, you have decisions to make about what to do about it. Then you have more decisions to make. Asking why doesn’t help. Why keeps you stuck. The “story” about why adds fuel to a slow burning fire that consumes your energy, energy that you need to stay healthy, make plans and live your life, even in this difficulty.
This is NOT to suggest that you ignore or blast through your emotions. The emotions that go along with all this are necessary. It’s important to acknowledge that you feel angry or anxious. These are your teachers, not the enemy. Ignore them and they will fester and erupt. Acknowledge them and they can move through you, leaving some treasure, some wisdom in its wake.
Once acknowledged you’re more able to accept, exercise choices and move on. OK then, I have high FSH. Now what? Or OK, I’m unexplained, where do I start? Acceptance says Yes to the situation as it is. No stories, no self-judgement, no punishment, no reasons. This is it, now what?
Acceptance does not suggest that you embrace the situation. That’s a bit much to ask. It’s not even about being positive which is also difficult, especially if you’ve been on Fertility Road for a while, perhaps incurred substantial losses. It’s more about making peace with where you are, right now. It’s about befriending who are right now, no matter what. When you can be your own best friend, you can get through anything!
This is where the shell breaks away to reveal the pearl, the treasures gleaned from a difficult journey.
I’ve been given permission to share something here about the current Fertile Mind-Fertile Body group, now in its 6th week. I was away last week on vacation. They decided to meet while I was away, even though they all have very busy schedules and could have done anything else they wanted. They have developed a deep and intimate connection over the weeks and chose to strengthen it. They are all in different stages, have been TTC for different lengths of time. Some have conceived and are tenderly holding themselves together, some are in the two week wait, some are in-between and figuring out what to do.
Over the weeks, I’ve seen agitation soften into a calmer presence, fear of the unknown become a more curious journey, self-criticism become insight, and strangers become friends. None of these women walk away empty-handed. Wherever their own fertility journey takes them, they have skills to maneuver the emotional entanglements and they have compassionate friends to call on when they need.
Wisdom, self-awareness and intimacy with self and others. These can be your treasures.
How long does this take, you might ask. I’m in a hurry. The clock is ticking and my eggs are getting older. Yes, well. No matter what you do, you’re getting older. The question is, how are you doing it? It’s a quality vs. quantity question. Harboring anger and resentment only add to the difficulty, consume your energy and dampen your spirit. Not to mention what that does to your body and your relationships. If you can invite an openness,
curiosity and a spirited, passionate approach to your journey, your mind, heart and body, your life will respond.
You may not discover what meaning this struggle has been to you for years to come. But I’m pretty sure that the discovery can’t be made with clenched teeth, eyes wide-shut and sprinting to the finish line. There are friends to be made, inner landscapes to be explored, strengths to be called on and skills to be learned that will last you a lifetime. Right now, this moment. What are you waiting for?
Come to Fertility Road this Tuesday (weather permitting) and next Tuesday (after you’ve voted!). If you like what we do here, you can register for the Fertile Mind-Fertile Body Workshop in January.
*Very few women are infertile. There are many women who are struggling, have challenges or have not
yet figured out how to have their child. The language we use to describe our situations and lives
influences how we move through it.