On my birthday, I reflect on my life so far. I remembered my first life choice point with my husband when we were in our late 20s, early 30’s. I was very driven and ambitious. We had done everything we needed to do in our minds to be “ready” to have children. As the time ticked by without a positive pregnancy test, I was so confused. I was used to setting my mind on something, creating a plan, and getting it done! Well, my body had other ideas and my getting pregnant was not happening on my timeline. I had what was called Unexplained Infertility which is super frustrating for someone who just wants to know what it is and get it fixed. So, I doubled down and decided I was going to go to school on all I could control. I started Acupuncture, I took prenatal vitamins, I ate a ton of beets because the naturopath told me that would help, I gained some weight because the infertility doctor said that might have been a consideration… I did everything I could to control my body. Still nothing. I questioned whether I was meant to be a mom although my heart ached for a child, I had to look away when I saw a beautiful pregnant woman at the store, it became quite painful as many of my friends were starting to have children of their own in what seemed to me as an “unfairly” fast process.
Ultimately, I had to release that I was not in control and that I had to seek support and treatment. This is also when I sought out my own therapy. I ended up having to educate the therapist about the infertility process. She then educated me on stress management and mindfulness meditation. I learned to live in the present moment more and notice my body’s gifts and need for more yoga and less intense exercise. After years of struggle, a miscarriage, and emotional, spiritual, financial, relational, and physical exploration and questioning, we were successful in having our sweet daughter (who is now a teenager) and two years later my son arrived (again, with some infertility treatment to help it happen).
After enduring this painful process of Infertility, I became committed to supporting individuals and couples who struggle trying to conceive. Through the years, I have learned that there are some couples that navigate it smoothly and don’t have the life crisis I had. I also strongly believe that there are a ton of people struggling with infertility that are still needing to be seen and understood. People who are struggling to navigate having a child and being parents is an area that needs our community and our culture to be more informed, more aware, and more sensitive. For example, when you ask someone if they have children that alone can trigger a punch in the gut to somebody who’s been struggling to get pregnant. Telling someone they should “just relax” and “go on vacation or have a glass of wine” does not help! Being someone who is safe for the person or couple going through the process to share their experience is the biggest gift you can give. It’s about helping them not feel alone, not helping them figure out a solution. Although I have gone through infertility, I don’t know what everyone’s individual and relational experience is. I don’t make assumptions but I do understand on a very deep level how it impacted every facet of my own life.
So, when I sit with a client or couple that is moving through infertility, I ask them what the biggest impact is on them. When I was going through this with my husband, he wanted children but not with the desperation and the deep longing that I was feeling. When we tried treatment, we were constantly being questioned on things we had never even spoken about and being asked to make decisions on things we had never thought of before let alone talked about! There is no “right” way to navigate infertility. There are many paths, many options, always hope (in my opinion), always grief (again, my opinion).
As I share my own life experience with infertility, I’m struck by the vulnerability of sharing at this level a very sensitive and personal time in my life. I feel confident that my sharing will also help someone who might be in the midst of their own infertility struggle, to be seen and understood. Please help me in creating more dialogue and safety for this group of people to share their experiences with us, to help us increase our sensitivity and awareness. I promise that the result will be that they won’t feel so alone in it. Although it won’t bring them a child, it will help with the pain of the process they are enduring.
This Post Written By:
Rachel Thomas, LMFT – Therapy With Heart
8737 E. Via De Commercio, Suite 200
Scottsdale, Arizona 85258
Phone: (480) 888-5380
Fax: (480) 203-2881