GUEST BLOG POST: How My Infertility Empowered Me by Heather Step
Infertility can make a person feel profoundly weak and powerless in the face of repeated failures, the passing years and a loss of hope for the child you so long for. Some of the events that can feel like a shot to the gut include your period arriving again, or the announcement of a pregnancy as you plod on with your seemly endless journey. It might seem strange to think that misfortune can bring power to your life, but I have found that in every struggle lies the seed of a steely determination to succeed in the face of devastation, and an opportunity to dig deep into the strengths you did not even know that you had.
So how do we reclaim our power from the relentless cruelty of failed cycles?
Appreciate small achievements. If I look back on my two IUI cycles I can see the growth in how I approached them and how my resources grew. For IUI #1, I drank two cups of coffee on the day of insemination. I was pretty clueless back then (2007). For the second one in 2010, I was doing acupuncture, dieting, going to a homeopath and to a better gynecologist. Even though both procedures were failures, I learned so much and made better choices for my planned IVF cycle in 2011. I chose a better clinic, did more blood tests and asked more questions. I was better informed, but only because of the mistakes I had made in the past.
I think celebrating even one small thing, like identifying another health problem (e.g. my thyroid) is huge because you know it will get you closer to your goal.
Find support. It helps to know you are not alone. You can join a support group (e.g. Resolve in the USA). You can chat in online forums. If, like me, you find writing therapeutic, you can blog. Mel, at stirrup-queeens.com, has a whole community of infertility bloggers you can join up with.
Find a way to manage your emotions. Infertility can be a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute you are hopeful with your new doctor and treatment process, the next you are gutted by the failure of the cycle.
Everyone needs to find ways that suit them to deal with the mind, because it definitely has an effect on the body. I found the Circle Bloom visualization mp3s really helped calm me down. I also made my own audios, which you can find on my blog, that use Emotional Freedom Techniques (which is like acupuncture without the needles, using affirmations as you tap) which also helped me. However you can also utilize breathing, yoga, exercise, or any other relaxing activity that you find helps you get through the tough times. This lesson has stayed with me as I parent a toddler, because making time for yourself and calming yourself down as they explore the world and throw valuable things around definitely requires emotional strength!
Look for the funny side. This is a lesson I learned from my husband, who always seems to break the tension in the worst situations with an off the wall remark. I remember when I messaged him that the second cycle had not worked, he immediately offered to get takeout for supper and talked about how the dogs are our babies. He also cracked a joke “Did Coffee kick you in the night?” (Coffee dog sleeps with us).
I also collected a number of witty answers to that rather irritating question: “So, when are you going to have kids?” which you can find on my blog on the Infertility Survival Kit.
I hope these small steps will prove helpful for you if you are working through the journey of infertility. Although I now have a child, I will have to climb on the rollercoaster all over again when I try for baby #2. But this time, I will not allow the infertility monster to control me, and if all else fails, I will also know when to throw in the towel. Knowing I am more experienced and have more resources this time round will only make me stronger.
ABOUT HEATHER Heather Step is a stay at home “later” mom to Nicholas, born June 2012. After enduring five years of infertility, he was totally worth the wait! When she isn’t following him around, she likes writing and blogging at http://onestepatatime.co.za. Heather also used to be a Grade One teacher and has an interest in children and psychology. She has a BA (Hons) degree in Psychology and is also an Emotional Freedom Techniques practitioner. You can read more about that at http://healwithheather.com. She lives in Johannesburg, South Africa.