Handling the emotions of infertility using cows and buffalo’s as inspiration

Sep 27, 2021

“Infertility was not my first rodeo - but it was the first bull I ever rode that bucked me off and laid me on my ass. It broke me open and created scars that never really healed.” - The Injustice of Infertility.

Yep, there is a LOT of beef analogy in this week’s blog post. 

Infertility is a rollercoaster of mixed thoughts and feelings, isn’t it?  It’s heavy and navigating our way through the ugly emotions can seem impossible.  So how do you make the pain and the storm clouds leave, to lighten the emotional load you’re carrying?  How do you handle infertility?

I’d like to share some practical tips on how you can do all of this, with a little help from some livestock.

Today I’d like to tell you a little story about Cows and Buffalo’s.  No, I have not lost my mind.  I heard this analogy a long time ago, and it captures perfectly, the different ways in which we process our emotions when we’re struggling with infertility.

So let me start from the beginning.  When they’re grazing in the paddock, and the storm clouds start rolling in, cows and buffalo’s react differently.

The cow, upon seeing the storm heading toward it, promptly turns and starts running away from it.  Now, this is a cow, and they can’t run very fast.  So of course, the storm eventually catches up with them.  And when it does, the cows find themselves running with the storm, inside the crazy weather.  And because they’re running with it, they stay inside the turbulence for a really long time, because they have to wait for the storm to overtake them, until they see the sunshine again. 

On the other hand, the buffalo sees the same storm, and charges toward it.  It faces the storm head on.  And because the storm is going in the opposite direction, they’re able to run through it and out the other side a lot quicker. 

Can you see where I’m going with this?  Yes, the storm is our fertility journey and the barrage of emotions that come with it – which captures it perfectly.  And we are either a cow or a buffalo.

Which are you?

I was a cow.  For 7-years I tried to outrun my pain and pushed down every emotion that came up.  Yes, I ran away from the storm. I pretended I was ok.  I put on the fake smile.  And I was afraid to feel anything for fear of it consuming me.  I thought that I could run faster than it. But I couldn’t.  I thought that when I got off the rollercoaster I was on, it would disappear, but the rain clouds stuck around.

Our natural reaction when we see something uncomfortable, is to run in the opposite direction.  Which is completely understandable.  We’re told to be positive, and happy, and grateful.  Those are the emotions that we feel comfortable with.  But when infertility hits, we’re facing a tsunami of sadness, jealousy, fear, anger and resentment all that the same time.  And no one wants to feel those emotions.  We would never choose them. 

Those emotions however are part of this rollercoaster.  And the more we run away from them, the louder they scream.  The longer we are on this journey, the heavier they feel. 

So how do you turn and face them, when you’re already feeling so raw and exhausted? 

I’m going to share with you a 3-step process I use with my private coaching clients. 

The first step is to give yourself PERMISSION.  To feel the ugly emotions.  These feelings are completely normal, because this path is filled with grief and trauma.  This is the toughest thing I have ever gone through.  And feeling sad, angry, scared and frustrated does not make you weak or a horrible person.  It makes you a human – congratulations!

Set aside some time to feel it – you can wrap yourself in a bubble, lock yourself inside, watch all the sad movies, grab a box of tissues and a tub of ice-cream and allow yourself the space to feel shitty. 

If you’re scared to allow yourself the time, don’t be.  I promise that you can feel them without becoming them.  We are not our emotions or our thoughts.  They will not consume you.  You can step inside them, and then step back out at any time.  And the more you do this, the more resilient you will become.

The second step is to find a healthy way to PROCESS or create AWARENESS of the emotions and thoughts.  And I say a healthy way, because my way of “processing” the emotions when I was deep in my fertility journey, was via a bottle of wine (or two).  It never ended well, and made me feel even worse.  If you’re not sure how to create awareness or process them, here are a couple of healthy ways –

Journaling – it may feel weird at first, but this is a great way of getting the horrible thoughts that have been swirling around inside you for so long, out.  Grab a cup of tea, sit in the sun in your backyard and let it rip.  You’d be surprised how much comes out when you provide yourself the space and the permission you deserve. 

Talking – find a friend or a someone you can talk to about everything that you’re going through.  This needs to be a safe environment where you can be completely honest and raw without fear of judgement.  Saying what you are feeling out loud is a great way to identify your emotions, acknowledge them, and also make sense of them. 

Now that you’ve opened the flood gates and created a little awareness of what’s happening inside you, the final step is to RELEASE them. We do this by sorting through the different thoughts that have come up.  Our brains are like a giant filing cabinets, and thoughts take up space.  Not all of them are helpful, so this is about decluttering our brains and removing the things that aren’t serving us.  Remember – just because you think it, doesn’t make it true.

The most common “unhelpful” thoughts begin with WHAT IF, IF ONLY or WHY ME?

If only we had started trying for children sooner. 
What if this is all for nothing?
Why is this happening to me, when other people accidentally get pregnant?
What did I do to deserve this?
Is this a sign that I’m not meant to be a mum?

These questions usually don’t have an answer.  And even if there was an answer, it wouldn’t help you in your current situation.  THESE are the thoughts that you can get rid of, because they are harmful and pointless.  They result in you feeling guilty, punishing yourself and having regret.  And this journey is hard enough without you carrying this too. 

You can write these questions on a piece of paper and burn them.  And every time they come up inside your head, catch yourself and change the narrative with a more helpful question.

Instead of WHAT IF?……..WHAT IS.

Instead of WHY ME?…….WHAT NOW.

You did nothing to deserve this.  And this is not a sign. Let go of the self-punishment, guilt and regret, and you’ll feel a lot lighter.

Now, this 3-step process may sound simple in theory, but it’s not.  It’s continual work.  But it’s worth it.  You’re better off being a buffalo, than a cow.  And facing the hard things, and moving through them quicker, rather than staying stuck.

If you’d like some help to unpack the heavy emotions, learn how to process them in a healthy way, and start to feel more like YOU, click HERE for more information on my 8-week private coaching program.  It’s a complete game changer!

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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