How Will You Remember Infertility?
Can you imagine yourself at 65? It's not easy to do. Maybe try to imagine a 65 year old you know, a parent, or someone you've worked with, a member of your community. Think about how you imagine they spend their days. Hopefully they have friends, fairly healthy bodies, and hobbies they enjoy. Do you have these things now? Are you enjoying them?
How is it different being your today self versus your 65 year old self? Maybe the 65 year old is retired, but maybe she's still working. Both have meaningful ways to spend their days, but one spends a lot of mental energy trying to control something that is uncontrollable. Think about all the time you spend googling fertility cures, trying new diets, providers, reading and participating in forums, waiting two weeks for your optimum ovulation time, then waiting another two weeks to see if the test is positive. When you add it all up, there is only so much you can be doing in a month to try to conceive.
Up until you decided it was time to TTC, you've been really busy climbing the life ladder. Never before have you had so much potential free time on your hands. You were in school trying to get the degree you needed for the job you really wanted. You were dating trying to find the right person to spend the rest of your life with. Maybe you were waiting until after you found the right house or city with the best school district before you started TTC. So of course, once you have all of that, the next thing on the list is a baby.
You didn't think it would take this long. And some people don't get this time to further develop themselves before having children. As a grief counselor I often meet women grieving the loss of their husbands, and realizing much later in life that they don't know how to spend time alone. Even if they did have children, those children are grown, and have lives of their own now. These women would do anything to have what you have. You're in this strange place in life, with a young mind, healthy body, a loving partner, good friends, but you want it to be different.
This 65 year old self, does she tell people about how she spent her thirties trying to conceive? Somehow these years you are experiencing will become the past. How do you want to remember them? Once my clients realize the goldmine they're sitting on, they've created all kinds of variety in their lives. Things they couldn't necessarily have done while in school, starting a new job, or while consumed with dating.
Through infertility, I know women who have learned to play fiddle, banjo, guitar, piano, and flute, participated in a community play, joined a community choir, joined a church, written a book, started a podcast, learned to knit, learned to sew a quilt, found rewarding volunteer positions, traveled, made new friends, started a blog, ran races, taken dance lessons with their partner, started businesses, changed jobs, gone back to school, learned about local plants and medicinal herbs, written poetry, invested in relationships with nieces and nephews, learned a language, the list goes on. These women got to choose a rewarding experience to have while struggling with infertility. They took the opportunity to add to their lives now instead of waiting on something they can't control. Go back and read through that list. Can you imagine your 65 year old self wanting to do those things? If you get the chance to start today, it'll be that much more rewarding when you get to do it in your 60s too.
And years from now when you show off your ballroom dancing skills at your nephew's wedding, give someone a quilt you made, or sign up for another play, people will ask you how you learned to do these things. This is a choice you get to make now, to live your life as if you've chosen to be in it, regardless of the circumstances.
Allison Ramsey is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and fertility counseling specialist in the Asheville area. She’s a member of Resolve, The Infertility Association and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Contact her to start feeling better.