The other day I was trolling on Instagram, and the following showed up in my feed:
I get what this is saying. Life is often about the journey and not just the destination. When we focus too much on what we want to accomplish, we often can miss out on the fun in getting there, or the lessons we learn along the way, or even (dare I say it) finding the positive in the situation if we DON’T accomplish our goals. By choosing to focus on the how in addition to the what, we can actually have a better chance at achieving our goals, and we’ll be all the happier for it.
I get it. And I do believe that this applies in most areas of life.
But I couldn’t help but think that the person who came up with this quote obviously didn’t struggle with infertility.
The “process” of trying to get pregnant, in a word, sucks. Like, seriously SUCKS. Every bit of it sucks, things like:
- Trying to pinpoint the best times to do the nasty, then figuring out you got it wrong and you have to keep doing it for another week.
- Taking your temperature every single blasted day as soon as you wake up, before doing anything else, and trying so hard not to pee in bed before that thermometer beeps.
- Fixating over said temperatures and if they’re telling you that this month is the month you finally hit it.
- Obsessing over every little cramp, bout of nausea, fit of hunger, wave of fatigue, and other supposed symptom and wondering, could it be? Did I get pregnant this month?
- Abstaining from drinking, eating all the junky foods you love, and some not-so-junky foods you love that aren’t unhealthy but not recommended during pregnancy or trying to conceive (sushi, anyone?). Okay, I have lots of terrific suggestions to help you with this one!
- If you’re doing fertility treatments, the endless parade of medications, injections, doctor’s appointments, blood tests, ultrasounds, not to mention the physical and emotional exhaustion, and financial stress, that fertility treatments wreak on a couple.
- And, not at the very least, all the sex you have to have! Morning, noon, night, before work, after work, before bedtime, quickie in the afternoon, it’s utterly exhausting. You just want to clock anybody who says that with getting pregnant, “at least you can have fun trying!” Honestly, babymaking sex is a chore, not in the least fun, and by the end of it all, you don’t even want to look at your partner anymore, much less have sex with him. On his end, he’s probably not super psyched either to get that text from you, again, saying, tonight’s the night!
And you can endure all of this, knowing that it’s temporary. But after months of trying to conceive, months that can become years, it feels like the new normal, anything but temporary. You get worn out, discouraged, devastated, and angry.
When we were trying for our son, I got overwhelmed at the process of trying to conceive. We were fortunate, for us it only took a year of trying, but what a year it was. I couldn’t believe how hard it was, and often thought of my younger days, when I was trying so hardnot to get pregnant. If only I’d known how hard it really was!
Every month when my period would come, I’d know my hopes that month were dashed, and feel so defeated. After my miscarriage and D&C, I publicly declared that I couldn’t wait for my period to return so that we could immediately start trying again, but inside I was devastated, and not sure at all how I would get back on the trying-to-conceive horse. I berated myself for not starting my family when I was younger, when it would have likely been so much easier.
Three days after my D&C my husband and I hopped on a plane and went to London for a pre-planned vacation. While I was there I thought and spoke often about the little baby we had just lost, and we lit a candle for him/her in Westminster Abbey.
I can’t say that I enjoyed that vacation, but while we were there I told my husband several times how thankful I was to have had the opportunity to go on vacation, and to such a vibrant place, after the pain of the miscarriage and D&C. During the flight home, I thought about all the things I was thankful for on the trip: a wonderful trip to Bath where we ate the best fish and chips on the planet, gorgeous weather, sleeping in every day, the delicious meals we ate (yes! In England!), seeing fantastic theatre, spending an afternoon and evening with friends who live in Oxford, doing a fun bike tour of the city, seeing the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, and feeling the city’s excitement as it prepared for both the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
Reflecting on all of this I learned that being in a different setting had been good for my soul, and I felt much better about returning to my life and picking back up with trying to conceive.
I felt so much better that I decided to start finding the things that I’m grateful for every day, and write them down or capture them in photos. In the beginning it was a challenge, I really had to hunt for things. One day I wrote that I was grateful that the restaurant I ate lunch in that day had coke products so that I could have a diet coke. Like, seriously? But it helped.
It eventually got easier to find the things that made me feel grateful to be alive – my husband, my family, the friends who support me, the beautiful home I get to live in – and I found that as I adopted a mindset of gratitude, I felt as though I had more and more to be grateful for. Now I have my amazing son Charlie to add to the list. I don’t think that’s an accident.
I’ve created a gratitude journal to help me reflect on the bounty in my life, and I’d love to share it with you! If you would like to have your own place to document your healing journey, where you can write your thoughts, intentions, and loving thoughts, send me an email at Stephanie@yourfertileself.com and I’ll get you copy!
Embracing gratitude didn’t make me fall in love with the process of trying to conceive, but it helped me endure the process, appreciate the people I have who supported me through it, and value all that I learned about myself, which helps me be a better mother to the rainbow baby that I now have.