This week, it’s Thanksgiving in the United States. This is the day we celebrate the bounty in our lives by eating as much as we can, watching football until we pass out, and indulging in Black Friday shopping sales.
The true meaning of Thanksgiving, however, lies in its name. The holiday is not really so much about the guttony as it is about giving thanks for the abundance in our lives.
Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what we can be grateful for, especially on the fertility journey. The raw emotion and gut-wrenching ups and downs of this path can lead us to the depths of despair, a very dark and lonely place where we can feel that the world is against us. Because we don’t have the baby, we have nothing.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The biggest setback of the fertility journey actually helped me realize this.
I got pregnant my 2nd month trying. I was over the moon and couldn’t believe my good fortune at getting pregnant so quickly!
Until a month later, when I went to the doctor and learned that it actually wasn’t as easy as it might seem. When the doctor studied the ultrasound monitor and uttered the words, “there is no heartbeat, I’m sorry” – I felt like the world came crashing down.
Five days later, I hopped on a plane to London.
I dreaded the trip that I had scheduled with such anticipation just 2 months before. It was supposed to be our “last big trip before having a baby” trip. Now it was a, “pick up the pieces and figure out how to move on” trip. I publicly told everyone that I was thankful for the change in scenery, but the truth was that I just wanted to spend the week in bed with the covers pulled over me, hiding from the world.
Something happened to me in London, though. Or more accurately, on the flight home.
I thought about our trip to Westminster Abbey, where we lit a candle for the baby we had just lost. I thought about how special it was to be able to honor our lost child in this meaningful way.
Then, before I could stop myself, I started thinking of all the amazing things about the trip: a fantastic bike ride through the city; eating the best fish and chips on the planet; seeing terrific theatre; feeling the city’s excitement at anticipating the Olympics and the Queen’s diamond Jubilee.
When I turned to my husband to say, “we’re so lucky that we got to take such a wonderful trip when we really needed it” — I was flooded with gratitude that I had him by my side to help me through the most enormous loss I’d ever experienced.
I was literally bowled over by all the things I had in my life, even though I didn’t yet have a child.
I started documenting at least one thing to be grateful for every day. Some days I really had to think long and hard, but it was awesome to discover that there truly is something to be grateful for each day.
And the awesome thing is, once you start looking for even the smallest things to be grateful for, magic happens.
You find more and more things to love about life, with hardly any effort at all.
It gave me the strength and faith to continue on the fertility path, without knowing how long it would take or even if my dream to be a mother would ever come true. In my heart, though, I knew it would.
I still think about the baby that I lost. If it were alive it would be 4 years old this December. I wonder what kind of personality this child would have.
But if I had that child I most certainly wouldn’t have my son, who came along just a year later. I can’t imagine my life without him. I know in my heart and soul the higher purpose in my miscarriage was to help me see how blessed I really am.
So this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for:
- My little family. I thank my lucky stars for my husband and son every day, not just on Thanksgiving.
- My health. As you know, I’ve made physical fitness a priority this fall. I’ve made great strides and feel great, in just a few months! I can’t wait to keep going and see how much more I can do.
- My dad. I lost my mom suddenly and unexpectedly 3 years ago and still miss her every day. I know my dad does too. I’m grateful that he’s still here.
- My sister. Two years ago, she was battling cancer and in the hospital at Thanksgiving. I’m grateful that today, she’s cancer free and thriving.
- My favorite gray sweater. I’m thankful for the friend who gave it to me too.
- My annual beach vacation. These trips with our family have given me previous memories over the past 7 years, and now we’re creating lasting memories and traditions for my son.
- My house. I try not to get too hung up on material possessions but I seriously love having such a lovely, warm, cozy home to spend Thanksgiving and all my days.
- My cats. I have two of the coolest cats in the history of humankind. Taking care of them is sheer joy.
- Chocolate chip cookies. That’s pretty self-explanatory.
- My friends. In all honesty, I wish I had more friends, but I’m incredibly grateful for the ones that I do have. I love them for being with me through all of the peaks and valleys of the fertility journey.
- My clients. I’m lucky to get to serve amazing women and help them achieve their dreams of becoming a mother. I’m happy to have the chance to write for you here at B-Method every week too.
What are you grateful for??
[originally appeared in B-Method, 11/23/16]