I’m going to share with you how you can move through infertility a little smoother. With less resistance. More flow. Less conflict and internal battles.
I have spent a large portion of my life battling my emotions and thoughts. Yes – me literally arguing with my mind. And considering the fact that I’m nearly 45 years old, that’s a freaking long time. It escalated when my husband and I started trying to conceive.
The first battle was the picture I had in my head and the comparison of my current situation to how it was “supposed to be”. I could not accept that this was my path. I resented it and became angry.
I also struggled with the lack of control and uncertainty. I was a control freak and couldn’t work out why my HARD WORK to fall pregnant (and I was working my ass off), wasn’t creating the result it was supposed to. I couldn’t predict the outcome and it was driving me insane.
Infertility consumed me. And being the driven person I am, when I set my mind to do something, it was all or nothing. I would either do ALL the things at the same time, or do absolutely nothing. This backwards and forwards mentality was exhausting (and I’m sure it was confusing the hell out of my body too).
I was in complete denial of any feelings that were happening inside me or around me. If it was negative or weak, I ran from it. I flopped between hopeful and hopelessness. I tried to be positive and block out the negative feelings and thoughts. I pushed down the pain and the fear and put a double barrel padlock on it. If anyone asked how I was, I told them I was FINE.
Over the 7 years that we struggled with infertility; I created some very unhealthy habits for myself. The most predominant was the way I dealt with (or didn’t deal with) my emotions. Numbing for me came in the form of wine and work. I threw myself into both of them to distract myself from the pain.
On reflection, I can see exactly how I made my fertility journey way harder than it needed to be. It makes me a little sad. But because of that, it also makes me more determined to ensure that you don’t make the same mistakes.
Today, my approach toward life, thoughts, feelings and the bumps in the road are very different. Over the years, I have been honored to speak with and learn from some amazing people in the space of fertility and mindset. And today I teach women, like you, how you can stop suffering on your path to motherhood.
This blog post is inspired by a recent conversation I had with Dr Rebecca Ray, Author, Public speaker and clinical psychologist. I wanted to share a few of the things we spoke about with you now.
Acceptance is such an important part of this journey. When we are battling constantly with that picture we had in our head, its easy to get stuck in the past. Let me clarify – the word ACCEPTANCE isn’t about saying you’re ok with the path you’re currently on. It’s not about saying that you’re good with everything that has happened so far on this journey to get you here.
Nor is it about getting rid of your difficult feelings or making them go away or transforming them into something more palatable. No one is ok with uncomfortable feelings. And trying to get to a place where you like your uncomfortable feelings is an impossible task.
Acceptance is about reaching an understanding and acknowledging that the feelings we face on our fertility journey are hard, hell, being human is hard. And rather than trying to change the hard parts, it’s deciding that we will show up and face those uncomfortable feelings regardless. It’s about allowing those feelings to exist, instead of fighting against them and struggling to stop them or turn them off.
Whether you are still struggling to conceive or are currently pregnant and suffering underneath fear, acceptance is about accepting the discomfort, fear and risk as part of this journey.
You see, my first reaction was to fight my emotions and push them down. And you may want to do that too – you may want to numb them, shut down, or run from them. But what I didn’t realise was that the harder I fought them, the harder they pushed back. Like a tug of war.
I didn’t realise that there was another option. Another way to respond to them. Psychological acceptance means that you drop the rope.
Of course, dropping the rope doesn’t mean that the emotions go away. They still stay there and tempt you to go over to the dark side and sit inside them.
But acknowledging their presence and moving forward anyway without engaging with them, is the best way. Accepting ensures that you’re not throwing fuel on the fire, and keeping those emotions burning at full heat.
This journey is filled with uncertainty. No arguments there, right? One of the questions that screams the loudest in our heads when we’re twisting ourselves and our lives inside out like a pretzel is, will this all be for nothing in the end?
Uncertainty is not something that we’re comfortable with. And on this journey, the stakes are higher than any we’ve ever encountered, and the investment is greater. And I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big gambler.
But we search endlessly for some type of certainty. Even going to the extremes of saying to ourselves after a failed month or cycle – I knew it wouldn’t work. Yes, we crave certainty even if it’s in failure!
We search for certainty in other people’s stories – if it happened to them, it couldn’t happen to me. Other people’s stories can give us comfort, but more often than not, they breed fear and comparison.
It’s natural for us to have expectations of what our path to motherhood was supposed to look like. These are usually based on the picture we have in our head, and also the experience that others seem to have (which isn’t always true).
And when you don’t have the experience that you expected – when it doesn’t feel like we thought it would, we wonder whether we are doing it wrong. Especially when we see others posting about their pregnancies. It makes the uncertainty stronger because we expected an experience and it didn’t happen. Our expectations weren’t met. So, we wonder, what ELSE isn’t going to go the way we expected it? What else is going to go wrong?
The truth is that there is no path to pregnancy, or pregnancy experience that is the same. When you rely on the outside world to provide you with what is a “normal experience”, it can make you feel like there is something wrong with you. It’s another time your body is failing you. It intensifies that feeling of – my body is a failure and I can’t trust it anymore.
But when you allow your path and your experience to just be what it is – sometimes the uncertainty can be alleviated. Rather than it being good or bad, it just is. Honoring our own unique approach to it and finding gratitude in the things that show up that you didn’t expect, is what will allow you to survive.
Look for the glimmers. Your experience may not look the way you wanted it to. But it is important not to blame yourself. There is no perfect experience. You’re not doing it wrong. You have to get through it in whatever way works for you at the time.
Is it possible to get to a point where you’re ok with uncertainty? In short, no. But you don’t have to keep butting heads with uncertainty and not knowing how this will end.
I used to flop between hope and hopelessness. Honestly, the only time I felt hope on our fertility journey was at the lowest points. I know that sounds weird. But a positive pregnancy test never gave lasting hope – it was always blocked by fear. But after a miscarriage, when there was no where to go but up, I saw hope.
What I didn’t realise was that I was waiting for hope to find me. I thought it either existed or didn’t. I either felt it or I didn’t.
But HOPE is something that can be practiced. Like working a muscle, it gets stronger the more you use it. And hope needs energy to be put into it. It doesn’t just exist. All emotions are transient. So, if you wait for it to come along, you might be waiting for a long time.
We all know that there is a risk of disappointment and loss on this journey. But when we don’t feed hope, we rob ourselves of the chance to live into the colour of life because we’re too focused on the black and white.
There is no amount of worry that is going to change what’s going to happen. So, you can sit and stay in the worry, and do nothing but worry – or you can understand that it’s going to be there, and open yourself up to the possibility that this could actually work.
This journey can be filled with some magical moments, so it’s important to make space for your rainbow even though there are some difficult colours to process. Because when it does turn out, you don’t want to have missed out on the experience, because you were too afraid. Because you were too busy sitting on the edge of hopelessness, assuming it was only going to turn out badly.
How would it feel to be able to feel hope again? To stop resisting and holding onto your worries and fears so tightly. How would it feel to let go of that picture you had in your head and the impossibly high expectations you have of yourself and those around you? To start floating with the current, instead of swimming against it. And stop the constant battle with your mind and your emotions.
It is possible. If you’d like to know how you can work with me, inside my 1:1 signature coaching program, head here.