Ask Traci: I am a 32-year-old woman struggling with infertility. It’s the waiting and the not knowing that have been the hardest for me to cope with. I feel like it’s taking over my life. It’s all I think about—all I talk about. I don’t want to be this person I am becoming. How am I going to get through this? --A
Struggling with infertility sucks. Becoming pregnant is something most of us girls take for granted. When it doesn’t come easy, suddenly even every day things like going to the grocery store (where you invariably see 15 pregnant women and mothers with young children) becomes a minefield of examples of everyone else having what you so desperately want. Many of us feel varying shades of shame either for being “broken” or not giving our husbands what they obviously deserve or for wanting to scream and slap the next person who tells us their special news (even if it’s our best friend).
Yes, infertility sucks, and it often causes additional pain with all the fun side effects like marital discord, strained friendships, and financial struggle from infertility treatments that are not covered by insurance. I remember going home for Christmas two years in a row waiting on test results from a round of infertility treatments. Two straight years of making the flight there with visions of grand announcements only to make the return flight with nothing but emptiness, sadness, and regret. So, how did I manage to make it through?
I remember one piece of advice that really helped. A friend asked me to verbalize what was most important to me about becoming a mom. I told her that I wanted to share and wonder at life with my children—to teach them to enjoy the little moments. She looked me dead in the eye and said, “There’s your answer. It’s never too early to start parenting. ” It took me a while, but eventually I understood what she meant. If I wanted to be a parent who teaches my child to participate in life and enjoy the small things, then I needed to participate in my life now and enjoy the small things now.
I cannot tell you how helpful this was for me. Whenever I felt overwhelmed with fear or longing—whenever I wanted to scream at the unfairness of my 17-year-old pot head neighbor becoming pregnant, I would just focus myself on participating and enjoying something small. It continues to be what I do whenever I feel overwhelmed and full of fear as a parent of two adopted children.
So, if you do not want to be the person you are becoming, then my suggestion is to define the person you do want to be…and start applying it in the here and now. You want to be a patient parent? Then, start practicing patience with the waiting. You want to be a fun parent? Then, start having some fun. You want to be a caring parent? Then, start caring for yourself and others in your thoughts, words and actions. It’s never too early to start being the person you want to be.