I experienced secondary infertility at the age of 21. That’s not what doctors call it when you’re 21. When you’re in your 20s, they call it “Ah, you’re just fine” or “Oh, give it time” or “Just relax and it’ll happen” but they rarely, at 21, call it infertility. Fast-forward four years and I was pregnant (without fertility treatments) with baby #2. But, the doctors considered the pregnancy high risk at that point because, at 25, they said, “You have a history of infertility.” Ok… so now they admit it? Baby #2 arrived when I was 26 and I rushed to go for baby #3. I figured, “I’m not getting any younger and if it’s going to take 4 years, I might as well start now.” So, when baby #2 was weaned at a year, I began the infertility journey… only to get pregnant 2 months later. Easy breezy, right? Not exactly. Somewhere in second trimester, a test came back indicating that baby #3 might have Downs Syndrome. I nearly had a nervous breakdown. From the uncertainty of it all (they can’t officially tell you if your baby has Downs until he/she is born) to the lack of care on the part of the medical industry (at one high tech ultrasound, they asked me if I wanted to abort the baby- SERIOUSLY?), I was a mess. And baby #3 was born PERFECTLY healthy… I was 28.
Fast forward 7 years and I am now the mother of 3 children: 15, 8 and 6, remarried, and, at 35, anxious to experience motherhood again… only this time I will have to use in vitro to achieve it. So… back to that wonderful infertility diagnosis? I guess so.
One of the greatest lessons of this entire infertility experience has been to accept what I cannot control. I’m a recovering perfectionist, a Type A on one hand and a Type B on the other. I like to have what I want when I want it. Who doesn’t? But going through infertility taught me that some jobs are God jobs. There’s no planning it, programming it, demanding it or willing it into existence. It occurs in its own way on its own schedule. For a woman breadwinner who’s so clear on how to achieve any and everything, this is one of the hardest lessons you will ever learn. With 14 years of the infertility rollercoaster under my belt, here are some tips I’ve acquired in how to NOT go crazy over the miracle of conception, pregnancy, labor and deliver you CAN’T control:
Tip #1: Be selective about who you share your infertility journey with. Not everybody gets what it’s like to want something so badly, to see other people have it so easily, and to not be able to do things like go to baby showers without crying or watch movies about new mommies without doubting whether that will ever be you. While you may want to let everyone know what you’re going through or have people comfort you, not everyone is capable of doing that. In fact, some people are downright callous when it comes to infertility or they say stupid crap that plants more seeds of doubt in your mind. Do not allow it. Guard your heart, guard your mind, and be selective about who you share this journey with.
Tip #2: Stop blaming yourself for this. Nobody knows why most infertility occurs. No matter who’s got the issue (and many times, it’s a husband related or male factor problem), blame will not get you what you want. Guilt is a wasted emotion. Instead of blame, shame and guilt, use your Type A, overachieving strength to find all of the information you can on your options and find a way to see this experience as bringing you constantly closer to the miracle of life you seek. Your faith that this will happen is the strongest asset you own. Do not remove your focus from that. Remember: focus on your assets, not your liabilities.
Tip #3: Go on with life. I spent far too many years putting my life on hold waiting for a baby to come. I put too much energy (esp. in the beginning) focusing on what to eat, prepping a nursery for a baby who wasn’t even here, and all of the stuff that I thought would make me “ready” for a child. Don’t do that. Your life is meant to be lived, enjoyed, and it’s supposed to be fulfilling, whether or not a child ever shows up. Live your life for you and, at the same time, keep your heart open for the space that a new life will fill. Children choose their parents so whichever soul is supposed to come to you, they know you by name. They never believe that you’ve forgotten them or that you have no room for them. In fact, they know exactly when they are supposed to show up for you. Trust that and go out into the world truly loving and enjoying the life you have right now. When I was going through infertility, one of the clear messages that came to me was this: You’ve been given time; cherish it. Three children later, I can’t tell you how powerful that wisdom was. Between girl scouts, cub scouts, swim team, college prep, and every other part of life, I no longer have the time now that I had back then. Cherish the time you have.
Tip #4: Be happy for those who have the blessing you seek. This is a tough one, especially when you’ve worked so hard in your life to do everything “right”, to be fully “ready” for a child and you turn on the news and here’s another story of a teen mom who drops her baby in a garbage can or a crazy mom who has eleven babies she can’t afford. It’s enough to drive a person crazy! However, that energy will not bring forth new life. What you give out comes back to you. Whatever it is you seek, you have to be willing to give. No matter who it is, when you see someone who’s pregnant or just had a baby or has small children, think in your mind (and believe in your heart): “Thank you God for this sign that if it can happen for her, it can happen for me.” Amen…
If you use these four tips, your life will be filled with peace, love and joy. You’ll usher in new life with more ease and a greater sense of well-being. Woman breadwinner or not, infertility is not something you can control but it is an experience of life you can receive a lot from. Be open to it and cherish the time you’ve been given. After all, dirty diapers and 2 hours of sleep a night waits for no woman!
Tell me about your infertility journey.
Where are you in the process?
How are you coping with wait?
What keeps you strong?
What are you struggling with most?
I’d love to hear from you!