For me Christmas was the second hardest time of the year, second to Mothers Day. I swore one year it would be our last Christmas without children. So how you your survive the season to be jolly?
It’s OK to feel crap…
On our journey I often found it difficult to allow myself to feel the pain and sadness of our childlessness. Part of me kept thinking but we have our health, roof over our head, a good job etc. there are plenty in the world that don’t have enough food to eat.
Then there are well meaning are friends and family trying to be supportive and saying things like ‘just relax and you’ll see things will be OK’. They just didn’t understand, so I didn’t feel able to open up and express how things really felt, ‘better keep it in as they just don’t understand’ I’d tell myself.
Then there is part of me that thought I had to stay strong, hopeful otherwise it would never happen. If I lose hope and fall apart, grieve it would mean defeat…I couldn’t imagine life without children and didn’t feel ready to start the journey of acceptance if it meant giving up. I had keep strong and hopeful at whatever cost because I was not ready to give up.
Accepting it is difficult does not mean you are accepting defeat – far from it. Accepting the reality of the situation is key to creating something new. When running a marathon the runner can accept the pain, how difficult it is, but it doesn’t mean they are giving up, far from it.
Accepting reality is part of the creating process. You cannot create anything without first accepting where you are now. When we try and pretend things are different, do our daily ‘positive affirmations’, we are kidding ourselves. If you wake up feeling tired, bereft, emotionally empty and you try and lift yourself be telling yourself ‘your ok’ you are kidding yourself. This resisting the truth is neither helpful or realistic. It is underpinned by a belief that it is wrong, unhelpful, dangerous or you are being a failure for feeling crap and you must ‘control’ how you feel to create the life you want.
I remember one of my first fertility clients many years ago had just completed her third IVF cycle which was not successful. She sat in my clinic just completely exhausted. Emotionally and physically. The indications from this cycle were the best yet and they were led to believe by the clinic that it could be better the next time. She felt under pressure to start the next cycle as soon as possible. Pressure from her ‘ticking clock inside’ and unspoken pressure from her husband and family. They view was they they were so close to be successful, so close to the finish line they just needed to keep going.
As we talked it through it dawned on her that she had just run three marathons only to get to the end of each one and be told she had to start again. She had nothing left physically and emotionally her to give. Her mind and body needed time to relax, to recover, to heal, despite the ‘ticking clock’ in her head. Her therapy was to send her home, tell her book a holiday, take some time off from her emotional marathon running, equipped her with some self hypnosis tracks and told her to come back when she felt ready to. I am pleased to say she took that to heart and returned two months later in preparation for her fourth IVF cycle the following month, which was successful.
Take a look at reality
A 1993 study by Alice D. Domar, PhD, and co-authors reveals just how distressing infertility can be. The Journal of Psychosomatic Obstetrics and Gynecology (Vol. 14, Suppl., 45-52) article reported that infertile women’s anxiety and depression levels equaled those of women with conditions such as cancer, HIV and chronic pain – an no-one tells them just to relax!
I liken the experience of infertility to the grieving process, grieving the loss of hope of having children. I can certainly look back and see how I experienced the emotions typically found in grief such as denial, anger, depression.
Often people grieving experience phases of these emotions followed by phases of resolution and peace. Then, as if from no-where their emotional upheaval begins again. Each time this happens the grieving person confronts a different aspect of the reality of the situation. Until they accept the all of the reality, the grieving person may is not able to move on fully in life. This can be true of infertility too. Moving on doesn’t mean giving up, it means continuing the journey from a very different place, a place of peace. I know it is hard to imagine being that way without yet being successful but it is possible.
- Accept reality. What you resist, persists. If you resist reality, it just gets stronger. If you resist what your emotions and body are telling you, it is not going to go away. They are there to communicate to you, to let you know you need to take some time out for yourself. Start by putting your hand on your heart and saying ‘I accept myself fully and completely’ out loud three times and then notice what you feel/think.
- Take care of yourself. We all know how to do this don’t we – eat well, get enough sleep, exercise, drink plenty of water – but it can be easy to forget, especially in the party season. You might be surprised how in just a few moments a day to be still and check in with yourself, you can really begin to notice a difference in how you feel.
- Breathe. It might sound obvious, but when we feel anxious or are stressed, the fight or flight mechanism that kicks in causes us to breathe shallowly, taking in too much oxygen. Give this simple technique of 7/11 breathing a go and see what a difference it can make.