Looking back, I see a real irony in my struggle with infertility. While I was devoting huge chunks of my time to creating a child, I was completely losing sight of my inner child – the one who was scared, angry, and vulnerable.
I wouldn't hesitate to be patient and kind to a child consumed with sadness or fury, but in the emotional tsunami of infertility it was easy to forget that I also needed to give myself some extra attention, kindness, and patience.
I bet most women struggling with infertility can relate to that neglect and to the place we put our energy instead – becoming our own worst enemies. When our fertility quest is not successful, rather than caring for ourselves, we beat ourselves up for almost every step of the process – from not starting early enough to having feelings of jealousy or anger toward those who have what we yearn for so deeply.
Now that baby-making is no longer my constant preoccupation, I see with more clarity how important it is to reassure and soothe yourself when you are coping with infertility.
Here are a few tricks I picked up along the way:
- Give yourself permission to be emotional. If you try to downplay or ignore your darker emotions, the energy associated with those feelings will find a less productive (sometimes damaging) way out.
- Channel your frustration in a healthy way. If you need to scream, find a place where you can do it – I always found that sporting events were a great time to shout out all of my pent up anger. If you feel the urge to punch something, unleash on a punching bag or pillow. If you need a good cry, have one. You'll feel better for allowing the release. Breathe deeply while you're at it.
- Acknowledge the toll infertility is taking on you and your relationships. Even in the best of times, we're all human and we say and do things that can be misunderstood. Ask for a time out or give one to someone else who may be contributing to your angst.
- Establish a safe zone. Carve out a time and place during the week to intentionally nurture yourself. Tune into some music or a TV show or movie to escape the emotional chaos.
- Remember that you're not alone. Infertility can be alienating, but fortunately there are many counselors and online forums where you can let go and be heard. Here are a few of my favorites: