Open letter to God

Dear God,

I have talked to you frequently about these struggles in fertility.  While I do feel I have been open with you, I wondered what might happen if I expressed myself in the form of a letter.  I understand that everyone has challenges.  When things get tough, I remind myself that things could always be worse.  I remind myself that I have many things to be grateful for–and I do, I absolutely do.  Yet, I want to take this opportunity to be honest about how I feel….

Why?  I have dedicated much of my life to preparing my world, myself, my career to bringing children into the world.  My line of work is with children, I’ve switched to a position that allows flexibility and part time work as necessary.  I have learned and grown from life experiences, including this one.  I have been really, really patient.  At varying times and degrees, I feel frustrated, disheartened, depressed, angry, devastated, confused, insecure, and the list goes on.

So, why do I see what seems like everyone around me getting pregnant and having babies and moving on to the next phase of their life, while I continue to struggle to even get pregnant?  How is it even fair that people get pregnant accidentally, or even worse, get pregnant and not even want the baby?  What am I supposed to learn from this that I will look back on and see much later in the future?  I wish you could just tell me, so we could move on with this already (okay, my patience may be waning).

We are about to meet with another fertility specialist for a second opinion later this month and likely will be kicking off more treatments.  So, know that I will be in your ear a lot more about this.  In addition to praying, I will be meditating and writing more.  I cannot, will not allow myself to fade slowly into depression like last time.  I know now that ignoring my feelings only made them stronger.  So, get ready God.  If you don’t want to listen to my, let’s say increase, expression in emotions, than let me have a baby already!

Thanks for your time as always.

Lidnsay

3 ways to find peace in infertility

Let’s talk about life not going as planned… Perhaps you are a planner like me.  Most of us have some idea about what we want in the future, albeit marriage, career, kids, whatever. If so, you may be in the same boat that not having kids when you planned to is quite a curve ball.  In fact, I even planned for it to take a while…just not this long.  So, how do we cope with this?  You’ve prepared your household, career, marriage, your life to move on to having kids and…nothing.  Now what?  Well, through my struggles I have found three things that have truly helped me find peace in infertility (see what I did there?).  Here goes…

1.  Notice the positives.  Whether you call them blessings, silver linings, etc, notice the good that is happening as a result of your infertility struggles.  Perhaps, you notice that your marriage has only strengthened and you realize you wouldn’t want to go through this with anyone else.  Maybe you have time to address things like finances, buying a house, moving, or helping others with their struggles.  Or maybe (as much as this doesn’t seem like a positive at the time) you realize you are unsure of your marriage as you go through this and you have the opportunity to either address this in therapy or find the right person before trying again.  Whatever it may be, there are ALWAYS positives and this can be VERY powerful if you really take the time to appreciate it.

2.  Pursue other ventures.  If the universe is giving you the extra time without kids, why not try to take advantage?  Would I rather be focusing on my own baby stuff this weekend?  Sure.  But, since that is not in the cards for me right now, my husband and I are going to maybe go get a beer, some dinner, or even do something spooky (it’s October right now).  Do something outside and enjoy the weather.  Plan a trip!  Reach out to kid-less friends and get together with them.  Or even (gasp) go out and party (we did this last weekend and it was a blast!).  All this while not having to worry about a babysitter, getting home late, or having a hangover.  Okay, maybe a little concern to avoid the hangover is a good idea…

3.  Keep perspective.  This one was hard for me and going to therapy helped me to achieve it.  But, keep it all in perspective.  Yes, I would like kids now-like now.  But, I also have relaxed into the concept that it will happen at some point, one way or another.  If we decide to try IVF and have to save up, okay (we are not one of the lucky ones that has insurance coverage for this).  If we decide to adopt, great.  Or maybe, just maybe, it will happen as I try to focus on being happy and healthy and doing other things.

Lastly, if you have any kind of spirituality, I think you’ll appreciate this.  I recently heard a saying that there are three answers to prayer: yes, no and grow.  I have chosen to believe that I am getting the answer “grow” in response to my prayers for a baby, which has given me comfort as well.  As hard as it may be at times, I have to pay attention to the messages life is giving me and try to make the best of them.

3 ways to navigate social implications

Today I’d like to discuss the social management aspect that comes with infertility.  By this, I am referring to fertile friends and family, insensitivity, and putting on a brave face to be “happy” for others.  HA!  No, but seriously.  How about those people that want to give you advice?  You know, the ones that either have never been through it or have and are so removed that it seems mental extraction has occurred and they no longer recall what it’s like in your shoes now that they have their perfect angel.  Or family or friends that seem to breath and get pregnant?  Or having to attend one more baby shower before you have (another) meltdown?

Perhaps you are more receptive to advice, or don’t take these things personally. Recently, my sister in law texted me (unsolicited) that a couple of her friends are going to this specialist in another major city two hours away from me.  Where my sister in law lives, an hour outside of this major city, this makes total sense for her friends.  Since I live in a major city and have received treatment from a nationally recognized specialist, I think I’m good.  While I get that she is trying to help, I didn’t ask for her advice.  In the past, comments such as this could easily send me spiraling into either a deep sadness or a ranting anger.  Fortunately, now I just roll my eyes.  So, how do we get deal with this?  I know for me personally, there are three things that have helped…

1.  Get support! Other couples with infertility issues or that have gone through it and remain sensitive to it are a great start.  Also consider individual therapy, group support, online, or simply talking with others that are sensitive to this.  My therapist has helped me immensely in cutting myself some slack and forcing me to confront my feelings with compassion.

2.  Decide your stance on sharing.  So, this may seem to counter the getting support concept, however what I mean is make a decision with what you want people to know, who you want to know, and stick to it!  If I’ve learned one thing, there are many people that can be callous in this process.  So, I am careful with who I open up to and how much.  While I do not deny infertility issues, there are some people I brush off quickly and there are others that I share more.  However, my line with all but my husband is general terms (i.e. “this cycle I am doing…” but not getting specific about dates).

3.  Let it go.  This last one takes a long time and if I am honest I am still working on it.  I am talking about not comparing your journey to others.  Allow yourself your feelings of envy and jealousy when others celebrate this milestone, but then let it go.  We each have our own path and have to have faith in our own journey.  One of my favorite verses is “Jesus replied, ‘you don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.'” John 13:7.

If I focus on my life and control what I can (career, home, health), I have found some peace in these three concepts.  I hope this is helpful for you and encourage you to share it as needed.  Please feel free to write comments below!

Emotional challenges

In my introductory blog post, I explained a little about what I hope to share throughout my blogging experience.  After some consideration, I think I will begin with some emotional challenges I have faced.  Especially since I have found these to be the most unexpected piece of this whole process.  I myself tend to be a “Type A” personality.  Now, I am not as extreme as others I know (hi, mom!), but I do like to have a plan and prefer that it be followed, am fairly clean and organized, and pride myself on my efficiency.  However, with mental preparation (cue: Just go with the flow, Lindsay), I can roll with changes and upsets in my normal day to day.

Now in the light of my need for mental preparation, I told myself and my husband it may take up to 1 to 1 and a half years for us to get pregnant (we are now 2+ years in).  So, imagine my surprise that in spite of this self served warning, we were only 7 months in when I had my first bought of depression.  Now, this was post miscarriage…though it was a very early miscarriage (not that this negates it, just that I believe that sometimes the earlier it happens, the easier it is to deal with).  One of those “chemical pregnancies” as they call them.  I then struggled off and on with depression that came to a low point this past winter where I finally sought out therapy.  (You[‘d think being a therapist I would have done this sooner, but hindsight is 20/20!)

Infertility is often one of the loneliest emotional experiences due to the nature of people generally opting for privacy as they are trying to conceive (myself included).  I have had to learn how to share and open up in a way that I feel comfortable without sacrificing my desire for some privacy.  It’s great to be strong, but I tried so hard for so long to be strong on the outside that my foundation was crumbling inside.  I only figured this out when I realized I was tearing up at random things that challenged the self doubt I was experiencing as a result of depression.

While I still experience this at times, going to therapy, seeking support in others with relate-able situations, and acknowledging and sitting with my emotions, even for just a few minutes, has worked wonders.  Know that it is okay to not always be strong…

Introduction to the blogosphere!

Hello and welcome to my blog!  This is my first official post…I am both excited and scared. Will anyone ever read this?  Maybe not.  If nothing else, I guess I hope it is therapeutic for me (though let’s be honest, I would love it if someone read it because maybe then it would help others as well).

Let me begin by explaining my plan for this blog…I hope to share (take a deep breath) the in’s and out’s of interventions I’ve tried (both medical and natural), interventions I’ve heard or read about, the emotional up’s and down’s, the challenges of having so little control, conflicts with others on a different path, the compassion I’ve found for myself, how it has strengthened my marriage, and the humor I’ve found along the way (whew, that is a mouthful!).  I also have the perspective of being a therapist myself, who has had to go to therapy as a result of…let’s say the emotional challenges of infertility!

One thing that has caused me to hold back on doing this a long time ago is the fear of people in my life knowing exactly where I am at in this process.  Don’t get me wrong.  My family and friends are aware of our difficulties and things we have tried, but having them know exactly what is happening when is too much pressure for me.  As a result, I plan to share real and heartfelt blog posts that are not necessarily specific to where we are currently.  Perhaps, I will change my mind along the way, but this is the way I feel comfortable proceeding.  Anyway, I hope you find this blog as both a resource and a support!