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Top 5 Lessons Learned Over 2 Years of Infertility

I am the type of person who feels better after I am able to talk through my issues to figure out solutions. That’s why I love the idea of this blog because it gives me a place to express myself and get things off my mind. I used to keep a personal blog for years when I was a teenager and in my early twenties but life got busy and it sort of fell by the wayside. It has been just a little over two years since my husband and I have tried to have a baby. I think it might be good for me to take a look back on the lessons I have learned throughout this whole process. Honestly I am really freaked about about sticking myself with needles and I am doing everything I can to stay positive through this. I thought maybe if I take a look back at those moments of growth, maybe it will help me to feel a little stronger. Plus I thought maybe it might help others out there who may be reading this.

 

1) So many people have experienced what you have, and you are definitely not alone.

 

Many of us have heard the statistic that 1 in 4 women will experience a miscarriage in their lifetime. After I slowly started opening up about my miscarriages I was shocked to realize the majority of the women in my life have experienced my same loss. Some would bring it up in conversation before I had mentioned anything to them, and this helped me to feel more comfortable to share my story. I have so much respect for those in my life who brought up this topic first and helped me to feel okay about sharing too. I was feeling so disconnected and alone in my struggle. Even if you cannot verbalize your pain to anyone yet, sometimes just reading or participating in online forums about infertility and miscarriages can help you tremendously. I’ve been able to learn a lot from others that helped me with my treatment plan as well. A family member told me about her miscarriages and how it was possibly due to low progesterone levels and suggested I look into getting tested for this. Although it wasn’t my main issue with my losses, my doctor did find that my progesterone level was a little lower and included it into my treatment plan. Had I not had that conversation with my family member I probably would not brought it up with my doctor. There are so many potential reasons why a woman may lose her baby, or why she cannot become pregnant, each person and each pregnancy is different. But why not have those conversations with others who feel comfortable talking about their experience, because it may ultimately help with your treatment plan as well.

 

2) There are also people who will not understand your struggle, and that’s okay too.

 

The depth of the pain I felt with my first miscarriage was so debilitating that it threw me into a deep depression. Not only was my first miscarriage the most physically painful out of my four miscarriages it was also the most emotionally painful. My husband was also very sad and probably very scared to see how deeply effected I was. But, as I have learned from others, many husbands/boyfriends have at one time or another have said, “We will just try again” and did not seem as emotional as their partners. This can be confusing and isolating for women. I can’t speak for all women, but I’ve been mentally preparing to become a mother my whole life. It’s the one thing in life I wanted more than anything. And it may not even be a difference between the male versus female perspective that can make your partner not understand. It could be related to something entirely different.

 

I am very inquisitive by nature and I felt like there was something more to why my husband could easily move on from our loss than I could. What was it that made it easier for him to cope? All of our miscarriages were due to loss early in pregnancy. The main difference between how we coped differently came down to our fundamental beliefs on when a baby develops a soul, or when life begins. I believe that life begins at conception but he believed it started later in the development. His reaction to the miscarriage made so much more sense to me, plus it also made more sense to him why I was feeling so strongly about it. I felt like I understood him better, which helped me to feel closer to him. When I continued to have more miscarriages I could see that he was beginning to understand how hard it was for me, and he was becoming more involved in the process. He would go to more appointments, he too was opening up with family, friends, and coworkers who shared our struggle of infertility, and he was there for me to try to cheer me up.

 

3) Develop a good Coping Skills Toolbox.

 

I’m a psych major and I do social services related work so I tend to use different therapeutic terminology, such as Coping Skills Toolbox, in other words, the collection of actions that are healthy and helps someone process a difficult situation. I like trying new methods of coping to mix it up because there are some days where it seems like nothing will make you feel better, unless you try something new. Whether it’s listening to music, exercising, spending time with friends and family, or losing yourself in a good book, find what works for you. Sometimes it feels like the coping skill that normally helps just isn’t working, well try something different. When I was very depressed I would binge-watch funny movies or stand-up shows. I would do that with my husband and we both started feeling good, those feel-good chemicals were going off in our brains and even if I wasn’t laughing at first I started to really get into it. Sometimes a good distraction is a way to pull yourself out of those terrible feelings. I used a combination of coping skills, often at different times depending on which one was working in that specific moment. I decided to go back to college and signed up for an online class, just one, which was just what I needed to get my mind off the depressing thoughts I had. I threw myself into my studies and it felt pretty good. It was something challenging for me that occupied my mind, and that I really enjoyed. The bigger your Coping Skills Toolbox the better, these can be for prevention as well as when you are in the midst of a terrible situation.

 

4) Sometimes people will say things about your miscarriages/infertility that will make you upset.

 

I’m sure if you’ve already opened up to people that you already know people can be surprisingly hurtful, and even more surprisingly not even realize it. There are many reasons why certain comments will just really rub us the wrong way and may bother us for a while. I think a combination of things are happening that lead to this issue some including; 1) Sometimes people don’t know what to say because they’ve never had the experience of infertility/pregnancy loss, 2) Our expectations are too high for the empathy or sympathy we would want to receive, 3) People are often misinformed on the topic, or 4) someone’s religious beliefs about the situation may upset you, 5) People can be distracted by their own life to be able to listen to you and to therefore give you proper support.

 

There are many potential explanations for the off-putting comments we receive when we share our experience. Although it may be cathartic to vent about the rude things people say, we need to limit focusing on this. If all of us gathered up the idiotic comments we received from people and put them together, we would develop a real hatred for humanity.  But please remember, almost always people have good intentions, either that or they are a just a dumbass. Remember to smile and tell yourself, “Forgive them for they know not what they do,” whether your thinking this in a genuine or sarcastic way, keep telling yourself this. It’s exhausting having to educate every single person about how their comments are hurtful, so just don’t do it. Your focus should be on yourself, not what others think. Who cares what others think? For me at least, my goal in sharing my experience is to find the people who are supportive, and to figure out quickly which ones won’t be. Sometimes you have to wade through the weeds to find those amazing flowers of inspiration and inner beauty who will help you on your journey.

 

5) You are incredibly stronger than you realize.

 

Simply put, you have no choice but to be strong. Even when you don’t feel like it, trust me you are. After my fourth loss I began to feel kind of numb. I was able to talk about my experience with someone who had their first loss. She was at the end of her rope. She could not fathom having to go through her experience four times over, like I did. I was able to give her advice as best as I could, but ultimately it was up to her to make healthy choices for herself. Most of my friends have stopped trying to conceive after one loss. I’m kind of surprised how easily people give up, but each person needs to decide for themselves where their limit is. I keep pushing my “limit” further and further each time. I thought my world was coming to an end after my first loss. I told myself I’d stop trying after three. Here I am after my fourth loss and I am trying IVF here in the next few weeks. You have to live moment by moment in a way. Looking too far ahead is just too damn hard, and something you don’t have control over. All you can control is your next decision, even within a single day. Whether it’s a simple task like the blood draw you need to do that day, or the one shot you need to inject for IVF that day, focusing on the one thing you need to do in a day that brings you closer to your goal is the best way to get where you want to be. Bite-sized plans only for today are much more manageable than trying to plan out your entire future family tree, because God could always throw a wrench into your plans anyway. One day at a time will help you to feel more in control and will help you to look back and see you are incredibly stronger than you realize.

 

I would love to hear the lessons you have learned through your infertility/pregnancy loss experience. What advice would you give your good friend who is just starting on their journey? What are your most helpful coping skills you use that work for you? Thank you for reading.

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