Are you blaming yourself for not having a crystal ball?

Feb 13, 2023

Infertility and pregnancy loss can be heavy.  There are so many mixed emotions that we’re faced with.  But the heaviest thing that we all seem to carry, is guilt.  We punish ourselves for so much.  We have regrets.

But a lot of the time, we blame ourselves for things that aren’t in our control, and aren’t our fault. The only thing we’re guilty of, is not having a crystal ball.

So what if I told you that you could put down that bag of guilt, self-punishment and blame you’ve been carrying? How would it feel to move forward feeling lighter, and being kinder to yourself?

Firstly, let me ask you – are you blaming yourself for your current circumstances? 

If you are, then this blog is for you.

For me, there were a number of things I blamed myself for consistently, so I’ll cover these here. The most common guilt for a lot of us comes from not starting sooner i.e. I wish I hadn’t waited so long.

My husband and I were 33 years old when we got married and decided we were ready to start our family.  Looking back (over a decade later), it seems so young.  But at the time, everything (ok, google) told me that my most fertile years had already passed. And I blamed myself for waiting too long to have a baby.

But here’s the thing – I only met my husband when I was 31, so it wasn’t even a possibility if I wanted to do it with a partner.  And there are millions of 33 year old women who get pregnant quite easily (and they seemed to be all around me at the time).  Plus, it may not even have been my age that was the cause of my infertility and losses. In fact, our tests showed that my husband’s sperm wasn’t fantastic to begin with.

So my question to you is – are you blaming yourself for waiting too long – even though it wasn’t in your control, and may not even be the cause of your issues?  Are you blaming yourself for not being able to predict the future?

Another thing I blamed myself for was being on the contraceptive pill for a LONG time before trying to conceive.  I started taking it when I was 18 to regulate my period (ha ha), and clear up my skin (ugh!). It was prescribed by my doctor at the time, and I trusted that he knew what he was doing.  I was on the pill for 15 years straight – with no break, and I even used to skip the sugar pills so I didn’t bleed during my cycle.  No one told me I could potentially be harming my body by doing this. 

And other people take the pill for years, go off it, and get pregnant with no trouble.  Yet I blamed myself for not knowing the effect that it would have on my body.  I blamed that 18-year-old, who went to the doctor with a problem and was given something to fix it.  From a medically trained doctor, who I had no reason to doubt.  Because surely, he wouldn’t be prescribing me something that could cause infertility! I blamed that 18 year old who it was drilled into from a young age – all you have to do to have a baby is have unprotected sex – so I made sure I kept taking that contraception religiously because getting pregnant so young is the worst thing that could ever happen to you. 

We don’t know the effect that these things may (or may not) have on our body.  It’s not our responsibility (and not realistic) to research the long-term effects of every single medication we take.  

Another common source of guilt is not seeing a fertility specialist sooner, or doing IUI for too many cycles, when you should have just done IVF to begin with.  We blame ourselves for the wasted years.

But once again, you are blaming yourself for not having a crystal ball.  What if you went and saw a fertility specialist up front, when you could actually do this yourself?  What if you moved straight to IVF, when the next IUI could have been successful?  We’re talking hypothetical scenarios here.

And I have the big whammy here.  We decided to go down the path of surrogacy and spent 2 years putting my husband’s sister (who was our surrogate), through absolute hell.  We did a ridiculous number of egg retrievals and transfers, and she even experienced a miscarriage.  Not to mention the amount of money we spent.  And two weeks after she gave birth to our baby boy, I got pregnant naturally myself. 

I felt a huge amount of guilt because we had put her (and her family) through so much trauma, yet apparently I could do it myself.  But I didn’t know that at the time.  And we don’t know whether it would have happened if we hadn’t gone down the surrogacy route. 

But this is what we do.  These things are impossible to predict.  If you had told me this would be our story, I’d have laughed at you.  You can’t make this shit up.  But here we are, blaming ourselves for not knowing any better.

The simple truth is that we make our decisions based on the best information we have at the time.  The only thing that makes a decision right or wrong, is hindsight.  And last I heard, none of us have a crystal ball. 

So it’s time we all (me included), stopped blaming ourselves for –

Not knowing how our body is going to react to something.

Not being able to predict the future.

Not researching things that aren’t our responsibility to know about.

Not knowing the unknowable.

It’s time to let go of that baggage and the guilt.  Because it can eat you up inside.

Now of course, I’m not going to say to you – just stop feeling guilty – because that isn’t helpful.  Plus it’s not my style.  I’m all about taking action.  So let’s walk through a simple exercise you can do to help you release the blame and the guilt.

Firstly, grab a journal and write down the answers to these questions  – What am I blaming myself for right now?  What am I holding onto?  What am I punishing myself for?

And then ask yourself – is this realistic?  If it was your best friend, and she was punishing herself for the same thing – would you say this is her fault also? Or would you tell her all the reasons why it isn’t her fault.  Are you holding yourself to a higher standard than anyone else?  Is your expectation of yourself realistic?

Finally, write yourself a letter.  I know that may seem a little uncomfortable or weird.  However this is the best way that I have found (both for myself and my clients), to release the blame and guilt.  To see yourself as someone else, and show yourself the kindness you deserve.

I did a similar exercise in my book, The Injustice of Infertility, and it was a pivotal moment for me, to forgive all the things I’d been punishing myself for.  You can check it out HERE.

Write your younger self a letter, forgiving her for not knowing what was ahead of her.  Give yourself the advice you wish someone else had given you.  Because when we see ourselves as a younger, more naïve and innocent form of ourselves, we also take on the protector role.  All of a sudden, you’re not punishing yourself, you’re seeing yourself as a human. 

Give yourself a little grace.  Because you deserve it.

Guilt and blame are not necessary on this journey.  They keep us stuck.  If you can learn a lesson from the experience, that’s great. But you don’t need to punish yourself any longer.  You are human and you’re doing the best you can based on the information you have right now.  

Would you like to know more about how you can work with me, so you can get back control of your life and start moving forward?  My 1:1 coaching program is packed with information, tools and support. Find out how you can get on the wait list now.  

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