How can you “just be grateful” when you’re struggling with infertility?

Dec 06, 2021

"Just be grateful", they say.

But how can you possibly be grateful for anything, when you’re struggling to conceive?

I’ll be honest - the concept of gratitude pissed me off when I was on my fertility journey.  I had so many people telling me to just be grateful for what I had. 

Firstly, it annoyed me because it made me feel like I was a horrible person.  There were other people out there who were struggling worse than me – they had cancer and were dying, or had lost their job, or were going through messy divorces.  And here we were - we had a lovely home, I had a great job, we travelled and had the financial freedom to go and do anything we wanted (apart from have a baby of course!).  I felt like an asshole, whining about our insignificant problems.  I should just be grateful, right?

The second reason why it pissed me off is because it was insulting.  It made me feel like I was actually being UNGRATEFUL.  Because when people tell you to just be grateful, it insinuates that you aren’t currently grateful.  At the time I didn’t understand that it’s possible to be grateful and want more at the same time. 

Those suffering from secondary infertility get this a lot too.  But you already have one child – just be grateful for her/him.

Of course I was grateful for all the things I DID have.  But I wanted a baby, and that in itself didn’t make me ungrateful.  Later down the track when we were pregnant via a surrogate, I felt guilty for not being entirely grateful. I felt ungrateful……for wanting to carry my own baby.

And lastly, how the f*ck can you be grateful when you’re knee deep in IVF needles, drugs, surgeries, miscarriages and negative pregnancy tests?  And how can you be grateful for all the crap you’re doing, when your girlfriend who already has 3 children, drinks like a fish, doesn’t take care of herself, and is a less than stellar mother to her existing children, accidentally gets pregnant?

Always looking for the silver lining has never felt good for me.  Because it completely diminishes what we’re going through.  And then we enter the “at least” category.  We hear it all the time from well-meaning friends –

You’re going through IVF……..at least you can afford it, right?  There are some people who can’t. 

Are you telling me that I should be grateful that I have to inject myself in the stomach every single day, have copious amounts of strangers looking at my vagina and telling me that my eggs are too old?

You have unexplained infertility……..at least there is nothing known wrong with you.  There are some people who have lots of issues that they can’t cure......like cancer.

Oh, I should be grateful that there is no medical reason for this happening, and feel comforted that it’s just gods will that I can’t have a baby?

You’ve been struggling to get pregnant for 5 years……..at least you’re young and have plenty of time.

I should be grateful that I have plenty of time, despite sacrificing everything I have, putting my life on hold and going through 5 years of grief month after month?

So, you can see how the concept of gratitude may have left me a little jaded. 

Today, however, I believe it’s one of THE most powerful practices you can use on your fertility journey.  To get you back in the present, improve your emotional resilience and calm your nervous system.

How did I make that transition and create it into something that feels good, yet doesn’t diminish where you’re at?  With a few simple tweaks. 

First of all – gratitude isn’t about discounting the pain and injustice of this journey.  It isn’t about being grateful for everything or trying to see the silver lining in a shitty situation.  It’s about creating space for both.

Gratitude isn’t a matter of JUST......BUT......or AT LEAST. 

JUST be grateful. 

BUT you have so much to be grateful for.

AT LEAST it isn’t worse.

Gratitude is a matter of AND. 

I’m going through IVF, and I hate it. AND I have a loving family that I’m grateful for.

I have unexplained infertility, which is so freaking frustrating. AND I live at the beach which I’m grateful for.

One doesn’t have to cancel out the other. They can co-exist.

So now that we’ve made that mindset shift, how do you create and implement a gratitude practice into your life that feels good?

I’m going to share the technique that I use, so this isn’t just something you tick off your to-do list (because someone told you it could help you get pregnant).  It’s important that the things we do actually make you feel better.  Otherwise, what’s the point, right?!

A couple of years ago, I started writing down 5 things that I was grateful for every day.  And by the end of the first week, I was bored.  I kept on listing the same 5 things each time.  I was grateful for my home, my job, my partner, my family, my friends etc etc. Same shit, different day. And because of that, it seemed like a waste of time, so I stopped doing it.

Then I discovered a new way of doing it that worked for me, and I'm going to share it with you now.....

Each day I write down 5 MOMENTS I’m grateful for, as opposed to 5 things. That way it isn’t so superficial. And then I get even more specific.  I choose moments that happened over the last 24 hours.  Which makes it a little more relevant. It could be a great car park at the grocery store, watching a beautiful sunrise, seeing a shooting star or a rainbow, a walk on the beach, that first sip of coffee in the morning, reading a good book, a sleep in.  Even on the hardest days, there are still small moments that you can find.

Then when I write them down, and I take a minute to feel the beauty I felt in each moment.  I let it wash over me, breathe it in, and sit in that moment of gratitude.  And it feels great.  It isn’t just ticking something off the to-do list – I feel better instantly.

What happens then is that you go out in search of those moments.  When you set the habit of writing them down at the beginning or end of the day, you’re more likely to recognize those moments as they occur.  So, when you see the sunrise, a little voice says, I am grateful for this moment. 

And THAT helps you appreciate the little things, without discounting how hard this journey is.

This is just one of the tools I use in my private coaching program.  If you'd like to know more and develop your own tool box so you can start feeling better on this journey, send me an email at [email protected].

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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