I am part of a facebook group of women who are going through infertility. Recently, someone wrote a post asking for advice on how to have the strength to go on after multiple failures. I wanted to respond, but didn’t feel I had the right word s to share, but still really wanted to say something.
I attended an event organized by the Teaneck Yoetzet Initiative and one of the speakers really impacted me. The topic was not specifically about infertility, but many of her lessons resonated. I left the event CHARGED and MOTIVATED and wanted to share her thoughts with you in those hopes that they will help.
I need to give credit where credit is due. This amazing woman’s name is Shera Dubitsky, MEd, MA and she was charged with giving tools to “take care of your MIND.” She works for Sharsheret, and helps those navigating diagnosis with ovarian and breast cancer, but these tools are applicable for the infertility community and others, as well.
Here are some of the points she made, and my commentary on how it can help the mindset of those navigating infertility.
- The Three Little Pigs and The Big Bad Wolf:
The Big Bad Wolf’s refrain during this well-known children’s tale is “little pigs, little pigs, let me in, or I’ll huff and I’ll puff and I’ll blow your house in!” The pigs, as we know, don’t let him in, and in fact, the wolf DOES blow their houses in. Now, what would happen if we let the big bad wolf in? Invite him in, offer him a drink or some cookies, let him put his feet up on your ottoman. Perhaps, by letting him in he doesn’t come off as so scary.
When diagnosed with infertility, one must not hide scared in a house alone, or even with your husband, it is really helpful to face it head on. Invite the diagnosis in, learn what you can from other “little piggies” who may be afraid of the big bad wolf. Have a party and invite the wolf! If you face this fear head on and let others know, they can be there for you every step of the way.
If you want to face the “wolf” but are afraid to try, there are many small steps you can take to dip your toe in the pool.
Yesh Tikva (www.yeshtikva.org) is a wonderful resource to help you at whatever level you want to join this Jewish Fertility Community. If you want to learn about an infertility diagnosis, look no further than the “Insider’s Guide” tab where you can read “What to expect.” If you want to read how you are not alone, you can read other people’s stories and gather strength from it. If you want to join a support group but don’t know what to say? Call into the “Live with Dvora” support groups. You can just listen and don’t have to speak until you are comfortable. If you want a buddy to be there every step of the way, Dr. Talia Hindin will find you the perfect “Fertility Friend’ based on your needs and wants. And if you are really brave, tell others what you are going through so they can support you, and not inadvertently say hurtful things.
- G.P.S – Recalculating Route
When you get in your car and put your destination in google maps or waze or whatever method you like, sometimes you take a wrong turn and you hear “recalculating route.” Don’t let that stress you out, the navigational system will get you to where you need to go. It may not be the original way you thought you would get there, but you will reach the destination in another way, and possibly a little later than expected. And if you don’t like the path you are being guided on going, you can get off at the next exit and try and navigate yourself.
Infertility is a tricky diagnosis. It is not black and white, not everyone reacts the same way to the same protocols and there are different ways to achieve your family. Whether through both parents biologically contributing, or using donor egg or sperm, or adopting, or choosing to live a childfree life. They are all roads one can take. How we get to the final destination of our choosing is not set in stone. We can always chose to take another route, and the journey only ends when we are comfortable with the results. You are in the driver’s seat, not your parents, friends, or even doctors. Be your own best advocate because at the end of the day, you need to be ok with all you have done.
- Cigarettes – Kick the Habit
We all know that smoking is bad for our health, so we don’t do it. Also, avoiding someone who smokes is ideal so we don’t inhale second hand smoke. Mrs. Dubitsky labeled negative thinking “emotional cigarettes.” When you are down and negative, it’s like you are smoking emotional cigarettes. And the second hand smoke from that can harm those around you.
For example, you are taking hormones, they are making you tired, creating weight gain, making you snap at those around you. You are not in a “happy place.” You know the reason internally, but perhaps mindfulness of the situation will help. You can talk about it with your loved ones, rather than building the smoke up in your lungs, and unloading the toxic smoke on those around you.
The path to parenthood is a frustrating one. The constant waiting and hoping and “what ifs” are a cyclical process since, if not successful, just repeats. If you are upset by a diagnosis, or a negative pregnancy test, try not to inhale all the bad because once you exhale, you will harm those around you who are just trying to be there for you. So try and be honest with your feelings and open up about them before they build up inside. Because when you exhale, you not only hurt yourself but those around you.
The speaker even gave a tip to help increase your awareness to prevent “emotional smoking.” Put a band-aid on your shoulder where a nicotine patch may be. When you look over or feel it, it will remind you to “kick the habit.”
- The Monkey Bars at the Playground
Upon observing little kids on the playground, you can see that in order to move forward, you need to face your fears, and let go of the rung behind you. When one hand is released, you have to gather your strength to put your other hand forward.
Though it may be one of the most difficult things you do, in order to move forward you have to let go of the past, the failures and miscarriages, and even some falls you may have had and get back up again. I know it is easier said than done, as many of the pitfalls one experiences during infertility can be devastating. But the only way to move forward is to face your fear, get up, let go of the rungs and press onward. Though it is hard to see it now, there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Each person gets there at a different time and in different ways. Something that I have learnt on this journey is whatever doesn’t break you makes you stronger. And I have faith that you are strong.