I consider myself an optimist, but during our walk with infertility, I have found that it can be difficult to keep my glass-half-full attitude. In fact, the thing about infertility that makes me the most angry (even more than the not-having-babies part), is that it has the power to make me feel less than—less than womanly, less than happy and less than hopeful. Fertility struggles, especially during treatment cycles, put me in an eternal winter.
I've always been a summer gal. My first job was as a lifeguard, and I would wear flip-flops all year long if it these Chicago winters wouldn't freeze my toes right off. Give me a maxi dress over a parka and sunkissed cheeks over wind-burned any day. But I live in the Chicago suburbs, where it actually snowed in mid-May. Snow and cold are inevitable, and I stay bundled up until spring comes and I can finally breathe again. When spring arrives with its tulip and daffodil goodness, I feel more like myself instantly. I am happy, hopeful and barefoot as soon as the ground warms up. I dance in the yard with my son and sit on the patio with my husband. Spring is summer's big opener, and I take full advantage of it.
But like I said, treatment cycles put me in a winter state of mind. I feel dreary, on edge and barely able to happily function. I get cranky and can only see the dark. I can't stand the way it makes me feel, and this time I am resolving to change that. I don't like feeling like all hope is lost and that I have to keep my heart so guarded from disappointment that I am unable to feel like my happy self. There has to be a balance, and this time, there will be. Here are a few ways that I am planning on keeping the wintry feelings away this July when we head off to our reproductive endocrinologist to start our first in vitro fertilitization protocol.
I will take care of and honor my body.
To keep the cold feelings of failure away, I am going to keep up my yoga practice. I will also try to consciously recognize and thank my body for being healthy when I am doing everyday things, like playing tag with Jackson, riding my bike and cleaning my kitchen counters, because my body is not defined by my fertility challenges.
I will let myself be hopeful.
Anytime I feel a little sick to my stomach, even when we aren't in the middle of a cycle, I always wonder "what if." And then the "winter" part of my brain starts the ridiculing self-talk, and I feel silly for even entertaining the thought that I could be pregnant. This time around, I am going to let that part of me think "what if" and tell the other part of my brain to shut up.
I will not lose who I am.
I see the brighter side of things. I see things to be grateful for. When my injections and ultrasounds begin, I will not lose that part of me. Good things can happen to me; good things do happen to me. I will not let myself forget that.
I will let myself lose control.
I am a control freak. So much so that last week I googled "will summer 2014 be a long one" because I just needed to know that sunnier days were ahead. It wasn't my proudest moment. I need to know everything that is coming up so that I can control it as best as I can. As a Christian, I talk a good game about giving my worries to God, but walking it out and actually giving up control to Him is very hard for me. You can bet that I'll be spending more time in my Bible and in prayer so that I can give up my sense of control with this whole fertility issue.
I will ask for help.
Are there any women who are really good at asking for help? I would like to meet them and ask them how they do it. As I give up control, I am going to need to be vulnerable and ask for help. When my medications make me sleepy, I need to ask my husband to take Jackson to the park for an hour so I can sneak in a nap. When I am feeling negative and dreary, I need to call my mom or girlfriends and ask for encouragement.
I will enjoy this season.
There is something exciting about standing on the doorstep of building our family with one more baby. This summer, I am going to slow down to soak it all up—the treatments, the hope, my 4-year-old's bare feet, and tomatoes from our garden—all of it. Because even if I don't get pregnant with Baby No. 2, there is still plenty to enjoy during this season of my life.
So, this is my pledge. I'm going to have a spring heart—a hopeful heart—this summer as we start our treatments. While I am sure that a winter and cynical attitude will creep in eventually, I will beat it down with my flip-flops. This is a new day and a new season for me.