Combating the End-of-Year-Infertility Blues
The end of the year is upon us and December tends to be a month that signifies closing one chapter of our lives and making room for a new one to begin. For some of us who are trying to conceive though, this is a period of mixed feelings. On one hand, you feel excited by the sense of possibility that comes with shedding the old and ushering in a new year. On the other hand, you may also feel disappointed to reach the end of another year without the baby you’d hoped for, especially if you started 2019 off on a high note, confident that this was finally your year. It becomes difficult not to feel as though you’ve invested so much energy, time and money in enhancing your fertility, in fertility treatments, trying to get pregnant and stay pregnant, only to reach this time and place exhausted by an emotional rollercoaster ride that tosses you between being hopeful and living through moments of frustration and disappointment. So, it’s not uncommon to experience a case of the ‘end of year blues’.
For much of the duration of my personal fertility journey, I started out telling myself that this will be our year – this is the year we finally have our miracle baby. Alas, it was quite deflating to reach the close of year without that dream being realized, especially when it involved a pregnancy loss. Since age is always flagged as a significant factor in the context of fertility, it was also hard not to be overcome with the sense that my life was slipping away or that I am running out of time. However, I’m always aware of how being a life coach is one of my saving graces. This is because it’s given me insight into and access to tools that help me to shift my perspective or focus my energy in ways that empower me rather than feeling completely defeated by the challenges. So, in the last couple of years I’ve tried to look at how I can reframe my thinking around that familiar bout of end of year blues, because I didn’t want to keep falling into negative spirals of melancholy. I’ve found that it does take a lot of effort to keep your mind focused positively when everything around you reminds you of your perceived inadequacies. But through allowing myself to try and view my situation differently, I’ve noticed that I am better able to surrender what I can’t control and cultivate a more grounding sense of inner peace. At the end of the day I guess I’ve had to make a habit of reminding myself that – Yes, there is little I can do to change my reality at present and that sucks, but I can create sanctuary for myself regardless of what I’m currently facing. Whenever I ask myself: What would I rather be feeling – down in the dumps or centered in peace?” The answer is almost always that I want to be at peace and feel less like I am wrestling with all kinds of inner demons because of my fertility journey. So, I’ve learnt to consciously allow myself to surrender, create more space to celebrate the positives and then review and release whatever isn’t working out so that I move forward into the New Year with a greater sense of clarity. Again, I’ll say that it’s definitely not easy, but it is an approach that has helped me in so many ways.
If this is something that you also grapple with, then here are a few pointers that have been helpful in steering me towards a more positive mindset:
You are Not a Failure
When things don’t work out, we tend to internalize the failure. Remember that even if your TTC attempts, fertility treatments, IVF cycles or pregnancy did not work out, it doesn’t mean that you are a failure. You are an individual at the center of a series of some very unfortunate and heartbreaking circumstances. This is not a character flaw on your part. In a previous post I wrote, where I spoke about Restoring Self Worth When Subfertility Erodes Your Esteem, I highlighted that it is helpful to learn to separate your sense of worth from your fertility and to remember that although you may very well be facing challenges, you are NOT defined by them. The same principle applies here – the circumstances that you face do not make you a failure.
Surrender the Things that You Can’t Control
If there is one thing in this life that has taught me to surrender, it’s this fertility journey. You put yourself under a lot of strain when you try too hard to change or control factors or outcomes of things that are essentially outside your realm of control. At times we have to accept that while there are situations in which you can take empowering actions to move forward, there will also be times that you need to surrender what you can’t control. Take a moment to acknowledge, release and surrender the year that has passed. Ask yourself: Where can I surrender more? And, how can I remain open to a new path forward, even if I can’t see what it is right now?
Celebrate Your Wins and the Things That Are Working
Although your path to parenthood may look different to what you imagined, it is still important to allow space to celebrate the good things in life. Evaluate the progress that you’ve made this year, the things you’ve learnt and the new experiences that you’ve had. Celebrate both your small wins and great achievements. Acknowledge where you’ve grown and express gratitude for the blessings you’ve uncovered along the way. As you review the current space that you are in, it is helpful to ask yourself – What is working and what isn’t working? Doing so will give you an idea of what you may want to cultivate more of, or which energies, habits or experiences you may need to re-evaluate and let go of in order to invite a different outcome next time. Bear in mind that in life and often in the context of fertility some of your goals my take longer than others to come into fruition. Don’t beat yourself up if certain things don’t fall into place as quickly as you’d like. Focus instead on celebrating your victories and trust in divine timing.
Releasing What isn’t Working
What are you ready to release from your heart and from your life?
When you did an examination of what is and what isn’t working. What did you find? The end of the year is a good time to review and consider if there is anything that you feel ready to let go of in order to make room for new experiences going forward. Take the opportunity to weed these things out. Take a closer look at how you can do things differently so that you steer your path towards the things that you desire most. Investigate what needs your attention right now. In some cases, certain things will simply need you to apply a different approach. And in instances where something isn’t working for you at all, then it could be time to release it completely. We can easily end up feeling stuck and stagnant when our plans or intentions for the year don’t work. Know that you always have the power to change up the energy in your life. Declutter physically, emotionally and mentally. Let go of the old – old things, old fears and old emotions. Release what isn’t serving your best life to make room for fresh energy that supports your wellbeing and your fertility instead. Examine the approaches, beliefs or habits that may be contributing to a situation that you’re currently unhappy with. Is there something that you can do to change it? How can you shift this? Take a deeper look and then explore creative solutions to these problems. Making changes can be a scary process sometimes. However, remember that things don’t have to stay the same if you’re not satisfied with the direction that they are taking you in.