“A Letter to the Woman Trying to Have a Baby” | myMindBodyBaby
I see the twinge of sadness as you walk by a pregnant woman.
I see the hint of jealousy as you sit uncomfortably through a baby shower.
I know the tears you are holding back when you see a little girl holding onto her mom’s hand.
I feel the ache in your heart when your best friend announces her pregnancy.
I feel the knot in your stomach every disappointing month.
I understand what it feels like to want something more than you could ever imagine wanting…
I see, feel, and understand you, because I was you.
My story probably started off very similar to most other people. I got married, started trying for a baby and then realizing a year later that it was not happening, sought medical support. Fast forward through cycle monitoring, medications, too many blood draws, and ultrasounds to remember, and failed IUI’s we finally landed on IVF. For me, this process was literally life-changing. After transferring our 1 and only embryo I learned I was pregnant. Unfortunately, due to low beta numbers, I was told to expect a miscarriage. However, being this was my first pregnancy, I wasn’t aware that the light spotting I was experiencing was in fact not a miscarriage at all, but an ectopic pregnancy. A week and a half later I was rushed to the hospital for emergency life-saving surgery to remove my right fallopian tube and drain the 6 liters of blood that was pooling in my system due to the burst tube.
*Learn more about ectopic pregnancies here and how to spot them.
We all have a story. Some might not be as dramatic as mine, but every person struggling with infertility has their own important story. I think it is within these stories that each person can find the validation, the support, mentorship, lessons, and even a little peace that helps them along the journey.
Here’s what I have learned
I’m not going to start this by saying anything cliché like, ‘this will pass’, and ‘you are strong and will get through this’ – because really, these sentiments don’t help, despite being true.
What I really needed during my journey was the acknowledgment that I wasn’t imagining things – that this very long ride towards having a baby really was the hardest f&*$ing thing I’d ever done… and maybe would ever do. Having my inner circle understand that (as best as they could) gave me a sense of peace. It allowed me to put down my dukes and soften into the big feelings I was having …just a bit… because now I didn’t feel AS alone.
I think it’s important that you figure out exactly WHAT you need in order to get through this messy process. Is this validation? Is this control? Understanding your unique needs will enable you to better seek out the support you need. It might also help you process some of the seemingly odd and conflicting thoughts you might be feeling during your journey.
Here are some of mine.
P.S. If it’s control you are yearning for during your journey, we’ve put together an awesome toolkit of nutrition, fitness, and mental well-being resources here for you!
You probably feel cheated of the “normal” conception process
I know I did. As each pregnancy announcement came and went I felt angrier and angrier that here I was getting poked and prodded every month, and everyone else had a seemingly easier time getting pregnant. Even when I did finally learn I was once again pregnant (spontaneously) with my daughter (now 22 months), I was resentful that I had to go through hell and back to have her. I remember chastising myself for thinking this – I felt crazy.
Since then I’ve learned that this is a common feeling to have, and it’s ok. I think many of us grow up imagining things will go a certain way- especially those big moments in life – and when they don’t it can be really hard. Give yourself the space to grieve the way you imagined it would be.
Most people won’t understand what you are going through
Although those who love you will do their very best to support you, unless they have personally experienced infertility, they will never fully understand. In this case, you might feel, like I did, that you aren’t getting the support you NEED from them. This can lead to anger, frustration, and maybe even shutting them out.
To help, I highly recommend finding someone who does understand what you are going through – whether that is a friend, family member, or someone online that you can confide in and get the support you need. There are plenty of Facebook groups you could join and even some companies that are pairing up mentors and mentees in order to fill the need for support amongst those working through fertility challenges.
Prior to starting myMindBodyBaby, Lyndsey was my unofficial mentor. She played a pivotal part in my ability to cope during my 2-year journey and I’m thankful every day for her friendship. Find the person who gets ‘it’, they will be your rock.
Taking a break isn’t a waste of time even though it probably feels like it
I needed a break well before I actually took one, and in retrospect, I wish I didn’t continue to press on as hard and as long as I did. I was just worried that any missed months were just going to set me back that much longer from achieving my goal. However, the constant push eventually left me feeling physically and mentally exhausted, and because of this, I feel like I did more damage. Research clearly shows the impact stress can have on a body. It messes with hormones, energy, sleep, motivation – and can ultimately impact your fertility… the list goes on. And there is a lot of stress that comes from infertility – to read some of the top worries other women have reported, plus some tips on how to manage them yourself read here.
So, if I can give you some advice – if you think you need a break, you probably do, and it’s time. This break can be as short or as long as you’d like, but take it. Try to forget the needles, the follicle count, and the timelines that you have created in your head. Take the much-needed break to just be you again without the extra stuff. Because I can promise you, when you are ready again, your mind and body will be stronger because of it.
And, if you feel like you want to still be working towards your family goals outside of the clinic, use the suggestions in this article to make the most of your break.
After the baby arrives, you might still carry the scars of infertility
The emotional toll (and in some cases like mine, the physical toll) that infertility can have on a person doesn’t necessarily just go away after you conceive or have a baby. It’s been almost 2 years since I conceived and those feelings of sadness and anger still well up from time to time. Sometimes I get all the feels when hearing from one of you, other times, I’m triggered by a movie or commercial – I never know when it will rear its ugly head. Lyndsey and I refer to this as the “infertility hangover”.
I was also TERRIFIED for my entire pregnancy. What if I miscarried? What if something goes wrong late in the term? I was fearful that EVERYTHING I had gone through would be undone and I’d have to do it all again. I wasn’t sure I could.
Later in my pregnancy, I felt like I wasn’t allowed to complain or grumble about any discomforts I was experiencing. I felt almost like I should be MORE grateful than someone who didn’t struggle with infertility.
So I did a lot of yoga…A LOT. To be honest, I mostly just loved the part at the end where I could just lay there and breathe deeply. I found this helped me cope with everything. To this end, I had Lyndsey, our resident fitness expert put together a yoga flow for positivity. I hope you download it and try it!
Overall, I wasn’t at all prepared for the worries and the lingering feelings post-conception and baby. It wasn’t until I spoke with others and I realized this “infertility hangover” was a real thing, that I was able to make a little peace with the idea that all of this was just going to be a part of my story.
What is your story?
We all have one for which the battle scars are unique, and each story comes with its own lessons, craziness, timeline, and path. You’ve heard mine, what’s yours? We’d love to hear it!
In the meantime, take a breather and make these super yummy (and healthy) 5-minute cookies. If nothing else feels right today, these certainly will.
5 Minute Cookie
- 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup natural peanut or almond butter
- 1/8 cup dark chocolate chips
- pinch sea salt
- Combine all ingredients to a large bowl, mold into 8 cookies and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes on a sheet pan.