Today is an obvious day for reflection and goal setting, but it's also an opportunity to think about the way we think about ourselves, take care of ourselves, love ourselves. I've never been big on resolutions because...well... I can usually hold strong for about two weeks and then I just end up feeling badly. So I'm forgetting the resolutions and instead trying to focus on things within my power, mainly how I think about things and how I react to things. Especially the unexpected.
One part of this process involves a bit of self-reflection and a desire or commitment to think about things/myself a little differently. The other part of this process is letting go to past labels and expectations and hurt. It's hard. It's really hard on IF Island, but the past traumas and challenges don't necessarily inform the future, and often don't serve us. So, for example, I'm going to try to do FET #2 in the New Year, and when people ask me about it, I find myself being a bit sarcastic, "We'd like to get pregnant again...if my body will cooperate," and even a bit defeated at times, "Yeah we're going to try but something always comes up with my stubborn ovaries." That's my past, and while there is truth to these statements, they carry a negative tone and it's not going to help me. I'm also labeling myself and my ovaries, and really how is that helpful? My ovaries cooperated at one point in time, the time that resulted in Momo. Why is the tendency to only focus on the...fifty seven other times they didn't cooperate? Jk. Jk. See, here I go again. Many of us on IF Island feel cursed. We look at the end of the year with shock that all the efforts at baby making were unfruitful. We can't fathom how this next year will be different, because we've fallen for that siren of hope before and came out broken hearted. And it's hard. And for many it's very real and very raw. And it feels...bat shit crazy to wake up new years day and tell ourselves THIS IS GOING TO BE IT! But we have to. We have to at least try.
One exercise I like-- well two I guess, involves getting rid of the past baggage, literally and figuratively. Literally, for all of us hoarding expired meds and syringes and old IVF cycle calendars in that one drawer/bucket under the sink/closet, THROW THAT SHIT OUT. Or, pack it up in a neat little box, tape it up and label it PAST and then put it in the garage or storage or wherever is far away from your psyche. Figuratively (or emotionally), sit with your eyes closed and reflect on the year. Think about the struggles, the moments of excitement and the moments of horror. In the assisted baby-making world those moments often come one after the other in a rapid cycle that can be exhausting and really upsetting. But think about it all. Let the tears flow, think about the labels you've assigned yourself-- broken, infertile (I can't stand that word), a bad luck charm...whatever, then box those up to. Imagine doing a sweep of the traumatic events and sadness and putting it all into a box, taping it up and leaving it in 2017. Now I'm no dummy, I know this stuff lives in us and it's something we have to be aware of. But I also know the power of perception and of the mind and believe trying to leave this stuff behind can only hep us move forward as gracefully as possible.
I was listening to Brene Brown talk about shame the other day and she gave a definition I thought was very fitting for IF Island:
Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging.
Infertility is automatically associated with shame. I hate that. So I invite anyone who has felt shame around their fertility challenges to let that go. Decide not to feel shame. Decide not to feel flawed. Tell yourself you are worthy-- and deserving of all of it. Because you are. And find a way to harvest a pride in your determination or ability to be standing upright after years of treatments. Focus on what you are and have accomplished rather than the stuff that's missing. Just for a moment at least.
Let's say good-bye to all things crappy in 2017 and hello to new possibilities in 2018. And hello to a new way to talk to yourself, love yourself and believe in yourself.
Sending lots of love and luck in the New Year.