I did my first session nearly a full week ago now, and am gearing up for the second one tomorrow night. Week one was great, but tough. I was so excited to get stuck into this and enjoyed the first session. I said last week that I need to take more of an active role in tackling our infertility issues head on. I think a large part of that is just being equipped with the right information and then making a clear plan about what we’re going to do from this point onwards.
Looking at some of the research around stress and infertility has been really helpful. I’ve always had a nagging feeling that my incredible propensity for stress and anxiety has something to do with our problem conceiving, but to see it spelled out makes it more ‘real’ and – even though I know that there are other things contributing to my infertility – makes me feel a little vindicated in a funny kind of way. I think it’s mostly because part of the challenge for me is trying to overcome the overwhelming sense of hopelessness that things might never change... that we’ll be stuck in a never-ending cycle of anticipation and disappointment. On the other hand, knowing that there are other everyday things we can do to greatly improve our changes makes me feel much more in control again. Now, I’ve just got to find the willpower to stick to the plan!
I think I’ve done pretty well this week. I’ve been trying to practice the things I learned in the first session and have found my stress levels have, at times, been a bit better. But then life sometimes throws you curveballs and this week I’m still guilty of doing things I never thought I would do.
I’m of that age where lots of people around me are conceiving and bringing beautiful little babies into the world. This week I found out that another relative has just fallen pregnant. I am, of course, incredibly happy for them but there’s also a strong feeling of jealousy deep down that I just can’t shake. I’m totally ashamed that I would feel like this, but I find it very difficult to control; it makes it very hard to spend time around others. Sometimes I feel like I’d be happy to just stay home and not have to talk to anyone for fear of them announcing another pregnancy, or (God forbid) asking when we’re going to start thinking about children and offering up well-intentioned but unwitting advice: “You don’t want to leave it too long, you know?” Yes, I know! But I of course nod politely and try to change the subject.
One of the things that really stuck in my mind from last week’s session was that I should try to treat myself like I would treat my best friend. It’s so true and yet something I’m so terrible at.
I have always been incredibly hard on myself, so when I feel jealous or angry at someone else’s exciting baby news, it’s usually followed by a deep sense of guilt and anger at myself. My internal monologue is usually littered with things I would never say to another person and certainly not my best friend! This week I’ve been consciously trying to change that and reassure myself it’s okay to feel these emotions… that it’s normal and not something I need to be ashamed of.
Although this advice is ringing in my ears every time my mind goes to a bad place, it’s going to take time for me to really accept and feel okay about these sorts of emotions. It’s tough to accept a part of yourself that you’re not particularly fond of. But then again, it always takes time to change ingrained habits and I know that the first step is recognising that I’m not the only one feeling this way; that it doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.
All in all, I’ve found it a bit tough this week and have felt a bit down, but I also feel a nascent sense of optimism. My mind isn’t in a good place yet, but that’s exactly why I’m here. I know that if I stick this out, things might just get better.
Bring on session two!