Growth in Learning…

I can’t count how many times I have said this in my blog, but infertility is hard at every corner.  I also can’t put my foot on what the hardest part about struggling with infertility is-there are just too many!  However, I can name a few of the things I struggle with most with infertility.  I struggle with its uncertainty and never knowing exactly what is the best and right decision or where to go next.  I struggle with the heartbreak, stress and anxiety that this causes.  I struggle with the general public I encounter on a daily basis and how to act around them. The lack of understanding and lack of compassion with this subject really upsets me and I don’t know weather to pity other’s ignorance and try and accept it or educate/explain to them when I can in hopes they learn from what I am telling them or just distance myself because they simply just don’t understand and probably will never have the capacity to do so.  I struggle with self care and doing what is best for me and my mental and emotional well being without worrying if I am going to to hurt someone else in the process.  With all the struggles that have come my way with this one BIG circumstance in my life, have come a lot of random things that I am learning along the way too.  I hate infertility, but with anything there has been personal growth in learning from all this struggle is teaching me.  A few of the things I am learning along the way are:

  1.  Self care is important. This could involve taking time to do something you enjoy, taking a break from treatment or even  making choices that honor your own happiness like avoiding triggers that lead to upsetting you. I haven’t mastered self care 100% but I am slowly starting to do things that don’t hurt me further, rather benefit my mental and emotional well being.  For example:  This weekend I was invited to a baby Sprinkle but I kindly declined the invitation.  Instead, I dropped off a gift in advance and had a nice 1:1 visit with my friend.  I originally had all intention of going to my friends sprinkle, but the day before her party I happened to end my week with another failed month. You can imagine I was pretty down in the dumps, yet I was so torn and worried because I didn’t want to hurt my friends feeling or appear selfish by not going to her party. I am really happy for my friend, but I knew by going I would be really overwhelmed and my anxiety would be on full force due to being stuck in a room surrounded by people talking baby talk, playing games, etc. It wouldn’t be fair to my friend or myself to go, so I decided it was best if I simply didn’t go. This had nothing to do with not being excited for my friend or not wanting to be there for her.  I was completely honest with my friend as to why I wasn’t going and to my surprise she was very understanding and very supportive of my decision. I was incredibly humbled by her actions in that she allowed me to do what I needed to do without taking offense or judging me.  She even reached out and said she was in my corner with any decision I made for myself and was there for me in this. I was completely grateful to her for her understanding and support.  The old me would have just went and suffered through her party in fear she wouldn’t understand, but the new me is working on doing what is right for me and learning that those friends that are 100% my friends will be supportive of my decisions, understand and not be offended by the decisions I make to take care of myself. Part of self care is not worrying so much about what others think and letting that aid in your decision in what is truly best for you at this time.
  2. Sometimes being selfish isn’t a bad thing.  Being selfish ties in with self care as sometimes being selfless can be very damaging to someone struggling with infertility. Being selfless can just be emotionally and mentally draining.  Decisions made along the way are between me and my husband with also thinking about our daughter in the back of our mind when we make decisions and we are slowly learning to not think about others.  This is our life and we only get one shot at it and we need to do what is best for us without involving the opinions of others.  One example of this is when we first started our IUI procedure we had to look at the calendar and say would this be a good time to do an IUI-it’s so and so’s birthday or a holiday was coming up etc maybe we should push it back, etc.  Towards the end of our procedures, we wouldn’t take in account any of that.  We just needed to do what is best for us.  I mean for those of you that do not struggle with infertility I’m sure you don’t look at a calendar when you are planning to add to your family you just have sex and if you get pregnant if the due date falls on something “important” you just go with it and don’t have to think twice.
  3. Overthinking is not healthy.  It’s the clutter in your brain that makes decisions hard.  When you start to listen to all of that clutter, you become overwhelmed and can’t possibly make decisions that are best for yourself.  Happiness also can not be achieved when you are fighting the demons in your head.  Stop and think about what you really want or need and don’t let the other things get in the way, and this includes the opinions or how someone else perceives you.  It will be much easier to just keep things in perspective and not worry about all the other crap.  There is no point in dwelling on something that can’t be changed.  To be free from that, you need to just accept that life goes on from this.  Some of the greatest battles will be fought within the silent chambers of your own soul.”-Ezra Taft Benson  This is a huge struggle of mine and overthinking things is something I am constantly aware of and a work in progress.
  4. I am much stronger then I originally thought I was.  There are days I feel like I can’t function or the heartache     and stress of this becomes all to overwhelming.  Then somehow, I wake up to a new day and think, “Wow, I made it through yesterday.  I am still struggling, but I did it.”  There is no doubt that this circumstance is overwhelming, but I am living it and learning from it all the same.  I may not be the person I was, but I am stronger because of it. In the back of my mind, I also know someway some how I will get through this.  Why?  Because I am one tough cookie!
  5. Those outside this realm, who have never experienced infertility, will never fully get it.  You can talk about it until your face is blue.  You can write about it endlessly.  However, like any circumstance in life, if others have never gone through something similar they won’t understand what you are going through to their entirety.  With that, I have learned that I can’t expect them too either.  My journey through this is unique and it is important to have a trusted group of people who have gone through similar circumstances.  This type of support is especially important in getting through from day to day.  These are the people who just get it, without judgement or added drama.
  6. It will affect all relationships in your life, including your marriage.  A big part of why this affects relationships is because of misunderstandings of infertility.  Others need to remember to not take offense and what I am going through is complex and affects me to the core.  The hurt is real  and it’s raw and it starts to affect your every single day…because you at times have to be selfish and focus on self care it constantly can make you look like the bad guy to other people who do not understand the grief you go through on a daily basis. Some of these people will walk out of your life and some will be a beacon of support.  It’s those who support and those who stay with you through the ups and the downs that are healthy for you and help you succeed in this journey.  As far as marriages go…you vow for better or for worse and this is testing our every day together.  We have our good times with this and our bad days and I am learning that leaning on each other for support during this time is what is the most important factor in making it through this dark hole. Communication is very important for trying to stay on the same page.  Being honest and open with your partner in how you are feeling is healthy.  They won’t know how you are feeling unless you speak up and tell them.  Infertility will also change your sex life.  Sex becomes something other then enjoyable, which really is sad but it’s the truth.
  7. Having things to look forward to and staying busy help tremendously.  This speaks for itself, but I know the days I have something that keeps me busy or having something on the calendar to look forward to, helps get me from day to day.  Distractions from this are my best friend lately and also just simply enjoying others company is a huge relief to me at times.
  8. Infertility is expensive.  It’s important to know what you are getting into before you start procedures and medications.  Do your research!  There is nothing like being blind sided by a huge medical bill or the expense of a medication because you were not aware of the cost before hand.  This just adds stress to the already growing pot of stress.  There is definitely some big sacrifices that are made if you are going through this journey if you choose to try medications or different procedures.  This makes little things the big things these days!  It has made me get creative in finding ways my family and I can still have fun and learning to budget and cut corners where I can.  It is not easy and it’s not a fun way to live life, but you do what you have to do to get by.
  9. I can find joy in difficult times.  Choosing to focus on the things you can control vs. the things you can’t control makes the world of difference. A good balance is key.  I have my good days and my bad days with this, but a positive attitude makes a world of difference.  At times I feel like infertility consumes my every second, but I know that even though it feels that way…it really doesn’t and I am allowed to enjoy a movie or a date with my husband without having to think about infertility 24/7.  I still can embrace the joy that is in my life.
  10. Infertility changes everything.  When you go from trying to have a baby to struggling to have a baby it is a whole different ball game.  It’s not easy.  Struggles change you and mold you into the person you are.  From all the invasive testing and procedures to medications that have a million different side affects you will never walk out of this the same person that you were.  It is life altering. I know I have been forever changed.
  11. I am emotional all of the time.  I have never been on such an up and down and all around roller coaster ride in my entire life.  I am emotional over every little thing and everything makes me cry-infertility related, or not.  I am learning that it’s healthy and normal to release these tears either by myself or even with a trusted friend and even my husband.  Some of the emotions can be blamed on the medications but other times it’s just a normal release of everything I am holding in, on the inside.
  12. Baby fever is real.  When I was trying for my first I used to say I had baby fever.  However, that was before I experienced what infertility is like.  Now I know that I didn’t have baby fever then, I just simply knew I wanted a baby.  I know I have Baby fever now because I am physically, emotionally and mentally hurting over wanting a baby so badly. This is the worst fever I have ever had in my life, especially because I know trying for a baby is now a struggle and not easy to obtain.
  13. It’s important to focus on my blessings. No matter how much we want to control something or a situation, to a point most everything is out of our control.  As hard as it is, dwelling on what we can’t control only makes matters worse.  There are several days when I’ve been down and depressed where if I just try to revert my thinking to all the blessings in my life, a smile is at least brought to my face and the sadness can be overcome just a tiny little bit.  I try to remind myself that things could always be much, much, much worse.
  14. Opening up about my struggle was the best thing I could have done for myself.  I am always an open book when it comes to infertility mainly because I want to be an example that infertility is not something to be ashamed of.  Struggling silently (although there are many days I still do) is not healthy.  It also allows those around you to become more aware and also then the topic is less taboo.  It should be talked about.  The more we talk about this the more awareness is going to be brought to the table and it is my hope that by talking about it maybe there will be more though about changes on insurance covering infertility treatments.  By opening up, I also can not believe the amount of women, men and couples who have come forth and have shared a similar struggle.  It’s so much more common then one would think.  By opening up, it also takes the weight off my shoulders just that much more.  As much as talking about it doesn’t change our problem, it feels great that it doesn’t have to be kept as some big secret either.
  15. Deep breaths are important. There are countless reasons why deep breaths are important and I found a great article that explains some of these reasons.
  16. Being patient isn’t a choice.  Patience is something you have to have and stick out until the end.  It’s all about God’s timing and being humble about the cards you’ve been dealt.  It sucks but it helps to continue hoping and having faith in His perfect timing.  Now tell me to be patient and I will literally flip out on you!
  17. No decision is easy.  Decisions in this have been hard especially in deciding how far to take treatments.  It’s a gamble and gambling is something I just don’t do.  There are also ethical dilemmas in our decision making as well as religious ones.  We have to question if we should follow our head or our hearts on a daily basis and ultimately we have to make these decisions.  No one can do it for us.  There is also little guidance, even from doctors.  Infertility related decisions are not easy.
  18. There are no guarantees.  As much as you hope and pray for a positive outcomes there are no 100%’s in life.  Unfortunately, you can do everything under the moon to try and get pregnant and it still may never happen.  This includes treatments.  We’ve had 4 failed IUI’s and none of those failures have come easily.  Try making the decision to do IVF or not with there being no 100%’s…it’s really not easy.
  19. Depression happens in full swing and then there is a little word called anxiety that creeps in too.  I’ve been depressed before, I think we all can say we’ve been depressed at some point in our lives.  However, I’ve never experienced a depression quite like the one infertility has plagued me with.  It’s awful and lonely and dark.  There are days I can hardly put my head above water.  Then there is anxiety, something I never experienced before in my life.  When you have an anxiety attack is is one of the scariest things ever.  I literally feel like I can’t breathe, like my heart is going to beat out of my chest and like the world is overwhelmingly closing in on me.  The worst part of my anxiety is that I don’t always know my triggers and when it’s going to take place.  Oftentimes it happens so randomly.  Trying to find ways to cope with depression and anxiety are important to your health…I’ve been trying to get better about acknowledging this in myself.
  20. There may be more bad days then good, but there is always something good in your everyday.  If it’s the one thing you can do for yourself at the end of a very hard day.  It is to sit in silence and reflect on the good that was alongside the bad.  For every bad thing there typically is a good thing!  For me, my daughter brings me so much pride and joy.  She is the light of my life and is a reminder that miracles do happen…

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