Infertility. It’s something that you don’t expect to deal with when you think of your future. You get married, and then next come the babies when you’re ready. As I get older (and wiser with experience!), I’m learning that life has little surprises, valleys and hills along the way, and they help you learn and grow so that you can deal with the next hurdles with more grace.
My husband Tyler and I started trying to conceive and after a year with no success, we saw an infertility specialist. Three IUIs and 3 rounds of IVF later, we are at the other side with the arrival of our boy/girl twins, Harris and Goldie last year on July 13th! We climbed the mountain, we fell and got bruised and bled quite a few times, but eventually made it to the top. What I learned through the process is invaluable and I really wouldn’t change the experience because I know that what I learned will help me to be happier and more grateful for my life. It will help me to cope with my future challenges better. There are several habits that I developed to help me cope with the challenges of infertility, and I would love to share those with you if you happen to find yourself on this journey. I’m sure you never planned on it. It’s not something that you prepare to cope for, so I want to share what helped me get through it.
My first habit can really be applied to anyone, in any situation. It’s simple. Don’t get offended. You are the only person that can decide how you feel and how you let others affect you. Sometimes people don’t know what to say when you are talking about infertility, so they end up saying, well, really dumb things! One of the things I heard was, “my husband and I can get pregnant the second we start thinking about it!” For me, it was comparable to me telling them that I was struggling financially, and then having them retort with, “I am so rich!! I don’t even know what to do with all of the money that I have!” It's kind of funny when you actualy think about it. Here’s what I thought to myself when I heard someone say insensitive things: First, their intentions were not ill-willed. Those who have not experienced infertility cannot possibly understand the heartache associated with it. I know I didn’t! I had no idea what it felt like until I experienced it, and it was a lot harder than I thought. In fact, after we started fertility treatments, I remember standing in my closet and sobbing for my friends who had struggled with infertility because I finally understood what they were going through. Be patient with others. None of us are perfect, and I would want someone to be patient with me because I’m sure I have said insensitive remarks in my lifetime without the slightest awareness that I had. Another thought? Even if a comment is ill-willed, who cares! I’m not going to give someone else the control over my happiness.
My second habit is to decide to be happy! I learned a lot going through my first 3 IUIs and first 2 rounds of IVF, so by the time we did IVF for the 3rd time, I gave myself a break a lot more. We only get one life, and I didn’t want to regret looking back on my 20s wishing for the days ahead. I want to look back on my life without regrets and I don’t want to waste it because I can’t rewind time and get it back. There is something good in each day, and I chose to look for those good things. I chose to focus on what I could do without children that would be more difficult to do if I did have them. My husband and I bought dirt bikes! Yes, I’m serious. We had a lot of fun during that summer while we took a break in trying to conceive. We only get today. We only get right now. Those are adventures that I am so glad I had with my husband. Every single person in this world has trials, and it’s how we choose to live in those trials that defines how happy we are. I decided that I wasn’t going to be a miserable person, and that was that. This does not mean that you can’t allow yourself to have bad moments or even bad days. You can cry and you can get mad. But then I want you to bounce back because you have the control of your life and you will get through this. In the end, you’ll look back, like me, and realize how much you learned. It will make motherhood even sweeter. Trust me in that. It's so much sweeter after having gone through infertility. That’s the interesting thing about trials. Only through going through them can life’s experiences be so much more joyful and appreciated.
My last habit is to look around you for all of the incredible kindnesses of your friends and family. I was amazed by how many people reached out when they found out that we were struggling with infertility. If you aren’t comfortable telling many people, at least let a few close friends or family stand by your side to help you through the process and you will be so grateful at the love and support that you see around you. Going through something difficulties allows your eyes to be opened to some unbelievable goodness and I was so grateful that I got to see that. In return, I would suggest that you spread kindness to others as well. Like I said, it’s hard to remember sometimes, but every single person is going through something hard. If you focus on brightening someone else’s day, it helps you to look outside of yourself and it lifts you up in return. It’s strange that helping others really helps you. So… if you’re feeling selfish and you want to feel good, go do something for someone else!
I’m honestly grateful for this challenge because I was stretched and pulled and found myself to be a happier, more understanding person on the other side. We all have challenges. Let’s help carry each other through them and live this one beautiful life that we have been given.
You can read all the details of our infertility journey on my blog here.