As I’ve expressed in previous newsletters, I believe all relationships and life experiences serve the purpose of teaching us by bringing up for us what we most need to work on and heal in ourselves. One of my biggest periods of growth came through the experience of infertility.
At 29, I became pregnant for the first time. My husband and I were thrilled to be the first of our friends to start a family. We shared our exciting news with our friends and family and enjoyed the first months of anticipation of bringing a baby into the world. But at the end of the first trimester, we discovered that the fetus had stopped developing. I can remember vividly the look on the nurse’s face when she looked at the sonogram, and I can still feel the emotions I felt at hearing the news. Of course, I felt afraid, and then sad, but then what set in was embarrassment and shame. I felt embarrassed that we had told our friends before we knew that everything was ok. I felt shameful that my body had betrayed me, and I felt that it was my fault the baby hadn’t developed and that I must have done something wrong. More than anything, I wanted desperately to get pregnant again quickly, so I could wipe the slate clean and prove to everyone that I was capable and worthy of having a baby.
Apparently, life knew I had more to learn. Instead of getting pregnant again immediately like I had hoped, I got to experience almost four years of waiting, while watching all of my friends have babies before me. I know there are countless women who have experienced this particular life struggle and know firsthand the intense range of emotions that accompany it. For me, it was one of the most challenging times of my life. Each time I would find out that someone else was expecting, I would feel the embarrassment and shame all over again. Having to endure going to baby showers, receiving pitying looks and hearing insensitive comments felt like more than I could handle. I felt trapped in a state of limbo, and I questioned everything in my life.
During those years, I also went through the physically difficult and gut-wrenching process of fertility treatments. I was diagnosed with endometriosis and ovarian cysts that had damaged my ovaries. I had surgeries, procedures, doctor’s appointments and too many fertility drug injections and blood tests to count. The most difficult part of it all was not knowing if I would ever get to be a mom. I remember thinking if I could just know the end result, I could be patient and wait my turn. It was the unknown that tortured me.
Thankfully, I had some tools I used to get through this time. The most helpful thing I did was to look for the positive gifts that came through the experience. I frequently asked myself, "What lesson am I supposed to learn from this?" and "What good is coming to me by experiencing this?" Although the answers didn’t always come to me in the moment, asking the questions was comforting; I found that it shifted my perspective and helped me throughout the process.
I know now that the infertility journey taught me patience and that I can't control everything. It helped me to learn to let go of what I can't control. I know that because of that time of uncertainty, I have an incredible depth of appreciation for my kids, a deep gratitude for my body and what it did for me, and a conscious feeling of thankfulness for all the gifts in my life. It taught me more compassion for others and it helped me to create deeper friendships. I learned to express myself better and to open myself more to the people in my life. It also challenged but greatly strengthened my marriage. Above all, it taught me to trust life, to believe that life is always working for us, not against us, and that there is good even in the things that we label as bad.
Clearly this story has a happy ending. After four years, I finally gave birth to my son. Two years and another IVF procedure later, we had our daughter. Today, I can say with honesty that I’m grateful I went through that experience because it shaped the woman and the mother I am now. What about you? Is there a challenging situation in your life that you can apply this outlook to? Have you experienced a difficult journey that you’re now grateful for? Let me know! I’d love to hear your story.
Love and light,