I feel like we (Doctors…. society…. ourselves) grossly underestimate the emotional impact of infertility, the impact that infertility can have on our marriage, and the deep scars that infertility can leave on our self esteem. Infertility has a funny way of shattering our self confidence.
It tests our strengths.
It throws failure in our face over and over again.
It takes our marriages to depths they’re often not ready for.
Years after my experience with infertility, years after I first begun healing from the emotional impact that infertility had on my life, here I am, still healing.
But over the years I’ve learnt many ways to help work on myself to give myself grace, and to go easy on myself.
But I’ve been working with many clients recently who are at ground zero of self confidence. They’re feeling rocked. For some, infertility has been the crushing blow to their self confidence, but for others, it’s been a passenger in their lives for years, so today’s episode we are talking about how infertility can not only shatter our self-esteem, but it can also bring to the surface how badly we’re treating ourselves and how poor some of our body image and self-love can be.
When we’re on this infertility roller coaster it can feel like we are stuck in the ocean up against a rock..
And these big waves just keep battering us over and over again and we’re trying to get to the top of the rock but we just can’t get there, and every time those waves come and bash us against the rocks we feel like a failure.
You might feel like your self-esteem has taken a battering on this journey.
So I want to first acknowledge that you’re not crazy and that it is totally normal and completely valid for you to feel that way.
You don’t need to put on a mask and pretend that you are strong all the time. It is completely okay for you to feel vulnerable, for you to feel low when you are having those moments when you are crying on the bathroom floor because you just don’t know why this has happened to you. Don’t feel like you need to get up and brush it off and be strong. Allow yourself those moments to really grieve this process.
Sometimes feelings of sadness and hopelessness can feel really uncomfortable, but those feelings are a necessary part of life, they’re a necessary part of this process, and so we don’t want to cover them up. Allow yourself that opportunity to feel the way you’re feeling as your journey is unique to you. Your feelings are unique to you, and how you feel is just how you feel.
But I want to touch base and ask you, are you amplifying that feeling of failure?
Are you amplifying that message? One of the ways that you might be doing that is by not being your biggest cheerleader. So in my book Lessons From a Fertility Warrior, one of the lessons I talk about how to be your biggest cheerleader. You need to be the person out there telling yourself that, “This is not gonna last forever and I am gonna get through this, and it’s okay to feel the way that I feel.”
An example would be If you woke up from your sleep at 3AM in the morning, instead of saying to yourself like, “You’re an idiot. Get back to sleep. Come on. What are you doing? Come on. Come on. Come on.” What if you said to yourself, “oh I’m awake. What a peaceful night it is right now. How am I feeling right now? Feeling pretty anxious. That’s okay to feel anxious. It’s really normal to feel anxious. You know, it’s okay for me to just lie here and relax for a minute. Even if my mind doesn’t want to rest, that’s okay. I’m still resting my body and still looking after myself. It’s probably quite natural that I might wake sometimes.” Imagine how different the dialogue is if we talk to ourself in a really nice way!
Start celebrating the wins!
if you had a look at how often you celebrated some of the wins in your life compared to how often you would rue the failures of your life you would find yourself quite surprised and enlightened as to what is going on. So, the first thing that we want to do is look at how we’re treating ourselves. Start talking at ourselves as our best friend rather than as an angry, militant dictator, and recognize that your best is always good enough.
Let’s start looking at perfection
Hands up if you are a perfectionist?
Perfection is a myth. It does not exist. There is nobody out there, despite what their Instagram looks like, who has a perfect life. Nobody has a perfect life. We all have shit. We all have trials and tribulations in our life that is part of the privilege of being alive. But sometimes we can get into this mode of feeling like we’re so desperate to fall pregnant and have a child that we need to tick every single box that is out there. And I’m not saying do nothing if you’re genuinely trying to make an effort to fall pregnant and do the right things, then give yourself a pat on the back and stop telling yourself that you’re not doing this right because you’re not perfect.
Start cultivating some more self-love
You’ve heard me talk about self-love, and affirmations, but more than one person has said to me “Robyn, you’re dreaming if you think I’m going to look in the mirror naked at myself and say that I truly and deeply love and accept myself. That is so far away from where I am at right now, and I can do all the things you suggest, but that is one thing that I cannot do.” So, I’m about to give you some advice that I cannot take credit for. It is from a lovely podcast called Unfuck Your Brain, which as I’m sure you can imagine is right up my alley.
The lady who runs this podcast had some really enlightening advice that I felt was 100% perfect. The first thing that she said as an affirmation was to say, “I am human.” You’re not a superwoman, you’re not a robot, you’re human. Humans have ups and downs and have failures and things that don’t go right, messing their lives, all kinds of things. Just look in the mirror now and say, “You know what, I’m a human.”
The second part of advice, was that you may walk down the street and see everybody with their perfect little Instagram feeds, and their beautiful skinny jeans, and model-like bodies, But I would encourage you to look at those people and think to yourself, “Everyone has suffering, nobody has a perfect life”.
Everyone has ups and downs, and that’s part of the privilege of being alive and even though we don’t want so many dark moments, that’s kind of part of the gig of being alive. Try to remind yourself when you see all these pretty, perfect lives, that everyone has suffering and own your journey. This is the story of your life. This is part of your journey!
So, I hope this episode has been quite powerful for you. I hope that you’ve learnt some realistic lessons to help you on your journey, and I hope that this has filled you with a little bit of inspiration.
If you’d like to know more about my journey, or how I came to change how I was processing this journey, check out my book, Lessons from a Fertility Warrior or my post on 6 Life Lessons from my Fertility Journey.
I certainly hope to connect with you in one way or another through future podcasts, our Facebook group, or even as a client of mine. Thank you so much for listening, and I am so happy and excited to chat with you on our next episode.
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