Falling down hurts, but bravery is getting back up
Cheers, dear readers,
There are days in the infertility journey that can bring you to your knees. I know first-hand. I’ve been there. Those days can be followed by days where you don’t know how you will pick yourself up and get out of bed. None of us ask for the infertility diagnosis, or all of the testing and needles, prodding and poking that happens after that. But if we decide to pursue treatment in an effort to build a family, we are definitely signing up for the potential success or possible failure of treatment. We wonder… How will our bodies respond to treatment? Will my eggs fertilize? Can I get through this? What if all of this is for naught? Can my husband’s slow swimmers fertilize my 40-year old eggs? What will the outcome of all of this work, heartache, and physical and emotional pain be?
A healthy newborn baby is our hope, our dream, our legacy. We hang our hat on that and charge forward during the process.
On our journey, after two highly unsuccessful IVF procedures, Eric and I made the tough decision to discontinue treatment. We are both quite analytical, and it seemed to us that treatment wasn’t working. It was just depleting our savings, our emotional reserves, and our hope of having our own children.
Shortly after Eric and I decided that discontinuing treatment was the right thing for us, we decided to move on with our lives sans biological children. We bought our dream house. We moved in. We renovated, decorated, and enjoyed having something to do that wasn’t about trying to conceive a baby. That endeavor was just making us feel like failures, spending time, money and energy on a non-workable solution for us. In our specific case, treatment just felt like a waste of time. We were good with our decision to stop. We were ready for the next chapter of our lives.
I was at this point in my life re-teaching myself how to be happy again. Trying desperately to find joy and passion in my life as I had used to feel in the past. I was crawling my way back out of the hole I found myself in. “I could do this,“ I told myself. I can move on… and I can be happy. Each day was a struggle but every day got just a little bit better.
Then it happened. I got news that hit me sideways and knocked me off of my feet. One of my very good friends told us quite excitedly that she and her partner had gotten pregnant on the VERY FIRST TRY! Like… in a matter of WEEKS! Naturally! Wow! They were over the moon excited! Yet a bit shocked at the same time.
Well I can tell you that I was shocked. I was shocked by how upset this made me. I was also very confused…
You see I was truly very happy for them! I want my good friends, the loved ones in my life to find happiness and joy! I want them to smile, and dance and sing, and get everything in life that they could ever dream of for themselves! Of course I would never wish difficulty with getting pregnant on anyone! EVER! So why did this hit me so hard?
A few reasons I would say. Right when I was starting to heal emotionally, this news was like ripping open a fresh wound. Ouch! That hurts! Also, as humans, it is natural to feel all kinds of emotion. In this case ENVY was cropping up. I was envious that for some people – including my friends that are close to me – getting pregnant can be a “cake walk” – so darn easy. Some would-be parents don’t have to chart their cycle, wonder month after month why they keep getting a BFN (Big Fat Negative), or pay out of their noses for treatments that they don’t know will ever work. Some lucky people (frankly it seems MOST people) can easily conceive without much effort. They immediately get to feel joy, excitement and elation at their good fortune, excitedly telling their friends and family when they deem it the appropriate time. They get to have some control over their bodies, their destinies. I had no control it seemed over virtually anything, except maybe what I was having for breakfast that day. I felt hopeless. Out of control. Desperate. And frankly a little ticked off. I was angry with my body. Why had it let me down? Why do other people’s bodies seem to flawlessly do exactly what they are supposed to do? Yet “all the king’s horses and all the king’s men” couldn’t get this gal pregnant! How unfair! Why me? Woe is me!
Yeah, there was a lot of the “woe is me” feelings going on as well. Feeling sorry for myself. What a crappy feeling.
Lastly, my friend knew how we had struggled with infertility. And as she excitedly told me about conceiving their child easily in a mere few weeks, it was hard not to think… “How cruel. Look at her gloating. Ouch how insensitive. Does she care about me and my feelings at all?” But within that same thought, I felt guilt for even thinking it. She is expressing to me her experience. I want her to feel joy. I want her to be happy. I was having some major emotional turmoil. How confusing this all was! Should I be upset with her for her lack of empathy towards me and my circumstances? Or should I be overjoyed at her amazing experience and the awesome future for her growing family that was unfolding before her? How do I feel those both at the same time I wondered?
After she left our house, I was a mess. I emotionally fell down. I cried for hours and hours. I could not keep myself together. My husband couldn’t console me. He just held me and let me sob. I couldn’t even articulate everything that I was feeling. After I was able to let the emotion course through me and work its way out through my tears, I worked at remembering that at the end of the day, this isn’t about me. This news is about her. I am happy for her. I was happy for her. I also forgave myself for being human and for having the reaction that I had. That was natural and didn’t make me a bad person. It meant I was a feeling, caring person who had survived a bad experience. And I had not completely healed yet.
The quote I shared here really speaks to me:
“The truth is that falling hurts. The dare is to keep being brave and feel your way back up.”
I fell down that day. But I knew there would be other days like that. Other pregnancies that I would be told about. One way or another, I had to find a way to survive through these announcements. I had to learn to be brave. I had to feel my way back up out of the hole, every single day. And you know what? I did. I’m living proof that you can. Today I am happy. I am healed (mostly – the scars always remain and forever change you). Next week, I will share with you more about picking yourself up after a fall. Always remember that we are here for you. And you are never alone. We are with you side by side.
Please join me next week to hear more about my personal journey down the infertility path. I look forward to speaking with you. And I wish you the best on your journey.