The first blog post that I wrote for the Slow Swimmers and Fried Eggs blog made me think a lot about who I was before trying to conceive and what it was like at the beginning of my fertility journey. It’s safe to say that my experiences along the way have changed a lot about me and the way I view the world. I’ve discovered many unexpected lessons. I’ve grown and gathered insight in ways that I’d never imagined. It’s definitely taught me to trust myself, to surrender more and be grateful for the blessings that I do have in my life.
A few weeks back, I stumbled upon the idea of writing a letter to your pre-TTC (Pre-Trying to Conceive/Pre-Subfertile) self as a form of writing therapy. The aim, I guess, is to reflect on what the journey has taught you thus far and to bring a sense of closure to the person that you once were.
It got me thinking – What would you as your ‘present self’ say to the blissfully unaware ‘past self’ who is yet to begin their path down the road you currently find yourself on?
I decided to give it go. I sat down to reflect and here is the letter that I ended up writing to my pre-TTC self:
I’m so sorry that things won’t be as simple or as easy as you think they will. I wish I could say that I’m writing to you from the other side of it all – baby in arms, your beautiful dreams finally made real – but alas, I’m only halfway through this journey and what a long winding road it’s turned out to be. Regardless of the fact that this fertility experience has not been the easiest path to walk, there are a few things I want you to know.
First of all, I am so proud of you.
I know that you fear the possibility of heartbreak and disappointment so much. I know that you don’t think of yourself as strong. So, I want you to know you are about to discover just how strong you actually are. You are so fierce, so patient and resilient. In fact, from where I am standing, I think that you’ll be blown away by the might of your personal strength.
There are so many things that could break you, but they won’t. With each unfortunate curve ball that will knock the wind out of you, you’ll learn to quietly take a moment to gather yourself, breathe deeply and recover before taking another step forward. The tough parts of the journey are unavoidable. Each pregnancy loss will crush your heart. But, there’ll also be many gifts that you will gather along the way – one of the key gifts being a greater sense of self. It will take a lot to reach deep into your bag of tools or inner resources and it will be testing to put all that you know into practice in order to rescue yourself from slipping into depression. If there is one important bit of advice I could offer, it is to go easy on yourself, be a little kinder and learn to trust yourself more.
There will be days that you feel lonely and abandoned by the world. Some of your friendships will shift or fall by the wayside because not everyone will understand or be compassionate about what you are going through, and that is okay. It may take a little bit of time, but new friends will come, meaningful connections will be made and you’ll find the support of an incredible network of TTC sisters within the fertility community. And of course, you are so blessed to have an incredibly loving and supportive husband who will be with you every step of the way. Lean on him when you need to, and remember to support him too.
Know that you deserve love, support and kindness, things that seemed hard to come by in the beginning. Know that you deserve to be a mother too and I honestly believe that you will be an amazing one when the time eventually comes. Look for the lesson at each turn and be open to doing things differently. Remember to soften, exhale and hold yourself without judgement.
When you can’t see a way out of your worst moments, know that there will come a time when you’ll feel both humbled and empowered to stand in a place beyond the worst case scenario, a place where all the things that you fear have come to pass and to witness yourself still standing in spite of it. So, as much as I can’t go back to smooth your path or change what you will have to live through I want you to know that you will be proud of who you’ve become and how you’ve grown through it all.
Lastly, I also want to encourage you to take comfort in the fact that you will find your way not just to live this journey for yourself, but you’ll do so well at synthesizing your personal lessons and turning them into meaningful tools to guide other women going through similar. That is a really incredible and compassionate way to add something of value to the world.”
I was pleasantly surprises at how therapeutic writing this letter felt. It also gave me a lot of perspective on how my experience has shaped me in recent years.
When you reflect back on your own experiences, what would you write to your pre-TTC self? Do you have any words of advice or comfort that you would share? How do you think you have grown through your personal fertility journey? It’s worth taking a moment to explore this to see what comes up for you.
This post is also available in: Arabic