The Gifts of Infertility
This is going to be a quick one, friends. I’ll admit, I’m a little short on creativity lately as I’m committed to other things and deep in the mama grind. But this conversation felt important to me, especially now that we’ve passed Mother’s Day, my first true Mother’s Day, and I’m quickly approaching my daughter’s FIRST birthday. The day I birthed her. The day that birthed a mother: me. One full, blessed and special year with her...I’m getting teary writing that. This upcoming milestone and my last blog post, featuring other women’s voices and their raw journeys with infertility, have been heavy on my heart. So, I felt it would be special to write about what I believe are the gifts of infertility.
The nighttime routine, creating a play space for my little one, and connecting with coworkers that are also new mom’s are moments that take me far away from those feelings of ‘failure’ due to my inability to conceive. It can be hard to shake off these deep, dark feelings and to engage with the joy of motherhood. Infertility does that. But the truth is infertility, I’ve learned, has influenced every part of motherhood for me, from how I raise my daughter to how I view myself as a parent. The role of “mommy” has been the most rewarding, yet disorienting thing I have ever experienced. So, here is the takeaway, what I deem as “gifts”...what motherhood post-infertility has given me (and what I’ve gleaned from the vulnerable voices of women who have walked the same path):
It’s okay not to be okay sometimes -- You may still be triggered by a pregnancy announcement, a holiday, etc. Maybe you still have some depression, anger, resentment, or other feelings to work through; your feelings, whatever they may be, are still valid. Check in with yourself. Talk with your partner or a close friend...maybe seek out a therapist. Give yourself permission to have that good long cry. Just because you’ve gotten your miracle doesn’t erase the trauma of infertility.
It’s given me perspective and a bit more resilience -- Everyone is struggling on some basic level. A change in sleeping habits. A stressed relationship. Financial concerns. Addiction. Miscarriage. Divorce. Death of a loved one. Grief is universal. I’ve learned that everyone is doing the best they can (even if it doesn’t feel that way). I am a whole lot less likely to complain because I don’t know who around me is struggling with what. It’s made me more aware of triggers others may experience at my expense. I attempt to hold my judgement. I’m also still a sensitive soul. My skin has thickened a little, but I know, for example, when my daughter is acting out, it is not about me. The same goes for others. It’s 99.9% not about me; I can only control my actions.
It's given me more patience -- Anyone who knows me well, knows that I am not a patient person. It’s been the crux of my life. However, when it comes to parenting, I’m more intentional. I check in and breathe when I feel my impatience building. I move a little slower, and in that way, I attempt to have more imagination and to see things from my daughter’s eyes. Additionally, I have more patience in my timeline of life. Two years used to be my scope. Now, my horizon of time, and thus, patience, has expanded. With a kid, it’s 18 years, minimum, of decisions that “should” be focused on your child’s future. My outlook these days is more like the next five to 10 years to build upon what I want for my little family.
I’m learning to set clear boundaries -- or in other words, I’m becoming more assertive. I’m more willing to say “no” to things. Emotions don't have to be mutually exclusive. I can say no and still be a good person. It’s been liberating in ways. I still feel hurt or the disappointment from others' unmet expectations; however, I’m more inclined to be a little selfish and advocate for my needs, those of my husband and those of my daughter. I’m more internally focused since she came into my world.
Most importantly though, or the greatest gift, for me personally, is that infertility has inspired me to embrace my story and share it so that I can empower and educate others. That is what inspired me to start this blog, after all; my infertility journey was the first thing I wrote about.
Love to you all.