I remember the extreme loneliness I felt at times once I found out we were not going to be able to conceive on our own. I felt the mounting pressure of our situation being my fault, I was broken, I’m the reason my husband doesn’t have children, I can’t give my husband and our families a baby. I would internalize, shut down, and become a recluse. This negativity I created began to seep into my marriage and affect every aspect of my life. So…I began to pray and I asked God for strength, courage and all the positive energy and love he could give me. It was a changing moment in my approach to our situation, and I found a few practices that completely changed my outlook.
- Communicate – do this often! If you find yourself over thinking something, getting emotional, perhaps you discovered some new research material, or if you just want to share what you’re going through, DO IT!! It’s so important to keep the lines of communication open with your spouse. While going through IVF, I discovered that my husband often had a different perspective, a unique approach to situations or he was still processing his feelings from all of the information we were receiving, which put us on different pages. We both had to learn patience to allow each other to process in our own ways, but to communicate what we were going through. I couldn’t get frustrated or upset when he didn’t react the way I expected him to. As long as I let him know where I was emotionally, mentally and physically every day, and he did the same, it brought us closer together. And I know sometimes you just need a break from infertility, so escaping and not talking about it is perfectly okay! Just tell your spouse, “I am just feeling like I need a break from infertility today. I love you and acknowledge you, but today I really need to have a break.” If your husband or wife tells you this, please respect it and receive this request. It will create an argument, tension, and stress if it’s not respected and received. Communication doesn’t always mean discussing a topic, its about letting your spouse know where you stand on a continuum.
- Don’t Point the Finger – I have found that once a diagnosis is reached, which names the issue and who the carrier of the issue is, it tends to be a situation of blame. The ironic part is that most commonly the person placing blame is the person who has the diagnosis causing infertility. Don’t point the finger at yourself!! I cannot stress this enough. This behavior can cause you to victimize yourself, cause strain between you and your spouse, and invite the negative energy in. You took vows to love, protect and honor each other, and you are in this together. Approach this as a team and a united front. My PCOS diagnosis was the one and only factor preventing us from having children, and for a brief moment I was saddened that it was my body that was broken. My husband never once blamed me for our situation or made me feel responsible for our situation. For that I am thankful and blessed beyond words.
- Create Positive Energy – This was a game changer for me. I often times was lost in the sadness and sorrow I felt, but I knew I needed to keep myself out of that black hole. I researched positive affirmations and really worked hard to apply them to my life on a daily basis. I ordered a copy of 365 days of positive affirmations from “The Secret”. I would read my daily affirmation each morning, take a photo of it, and send it to my husband and mother-in-law. It helped me have support in surrounding myself with positive energy each day. It also created a space of finding the joy in each day and sharing it with my husband.
- Have Empathy – having the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and try to understand their perspective, will have a profound impact on your relationship. Taking down your walls of defense, relinquishing your tools of attack, and allowing vulnerability to be a part of you, will invite a new level of love, respect and trust to your marriage. One of my most vulnerable moments was when I found out one of my closest friends was pregnant. I was in the office of our home wrapping Christmas gifts when she called to tell me. I was so happy for her and I shared in her joy, asked all of the questions a good friend should, and genuinely shared my love and happiness for her. But when I hung up the phone I broke down completely in sadness for myself. I couldn’t finish wrapping the gifts, and I just sat on the floor crying until my husband came home. He asked me what happened and I was afraid and embarrassed to tell him that I was sad for myself because of this wonderful news my friend just shared. He hugged me and told me he understood. He allowed me to be sad. Once I caught my breath, he incorporated creating positive energy by telling me that our time will come, and that we have to be able to be happy for other people when it happens for them. This entire experience made me feel utterly safe.
- Make Each Other Feel Safe – No matter the opinion, the feeling, the approach, the reaction, try to not pass judgement. It’s so important for each person to feel like they won’t be judged if they share what they are experiencing, feeling, or thinking. Creating a safe space for each other to be open and honest is extremely important. I often times felt afraid to share what I was really feeling with my husband, but he received me with open arms, an open mind and his positive energy. It made all the difference for me.