"Infertility was shaming for me because it was a lonely feeling. I felt as if no one else could understand my pain, especially all those around me with children. You feel as if something is wrong with you or that you are somehow being punished for something you've done wrong. You wonder in the back of your mind if this is somehow the 'plan' because you are unfit to be a mother." From the book "I Thought it Was Just Me (But it Isn't)" by Brene Brown
As I read this excerpt I immediately went back to that place of hurt and loneliness during my years of struggling with infertility. Those were some pretty dark days for me. I wanted to be able to struggle well, find joy in my circumstances and "move on." But the truth was I wasn't able do any of those things. I was stuck in my grief, angry at my circumstances and my struggle was less than graceful. Now looking back I recognize that was all part of the process of grief. I was "OK" with where I was in my struggle. Any heartache that we go through is going to be messy, awkward and not pretty. I wanted to put on a facade that I had it all together. I feared that if people saw under that guise they may see that "I'm not enough" or "I don't measure up." I wish that I had given myself grace to take as long as I needed in my process and allowed myself to be awkward in that journey. I wish that I allowed myself to opt out of baby showers, births and Mother's day celebrations.
Along with helping clients process their loss I tell them these things:
- Give yourself time to grieve and process your loss. You have the right to take as long as you need.
- Allow yourself to have a new normal. For others, normal may be going to baby showers. For you it may be skipping them and sending a gift or doing something that nurtures you and reminds you that you matter.
- Find your community of support. Are there others who are struggling with infertility that you can meet with? They will understand your hurt, sadness and loneliness. Meet or call them when you are under the weight of overwhelming feelings. Don't isolate yourself!
- Make sure you are taking care of and nurturing yourself. Be healthy in your eating habits and exercise. Take care of yourself spiritually and write a "Thankful List". Meet with others who support and encourage you and hold you accountable.
I affirm you and support you in your journey. You are not alone.