If you ever doubt how just much meaning our culture loads onto pregnancy and childbirth, simply pay attention to what happens when things don’t go as they “should.”
We all impart so much unconscious expectation and belief onto this part of life and yet we may not even be aware we have those beliefs until they are challenged … by infertility.
There’s no doubt that infertility for many women has a medical basis. And yet when it comes to something so important as the creation of new life itself, well, it’s no wonder that this topic can dredge up all sorts of emotions, too!
With infertility, it’s never just about the baby. Body and mind, as with most things, are strongly connected. Though you may want to strangle the next person who suggests that falling pregnant is just about “staying positive”, the truth is that your mental, emotional and physical state is just as important as your physical state.
If you’re managing the challenge of infertility, you may already be experiencing just how profoundly it confronts your beliefs and attitudes. Luckily, many couples find that these challenges are a blessing in disguise: if you engage with the curveballs infertility throws your way, you may be surprised at what you learn about yourself.
If you don’t already, consider seeking the support of a mental health worker, a coach or therapist to help you process the changes you’re going through. Things to consider:
· What beliefs do you currently hold about motherhood, yourself, your partner or life in general? Are these beliefs limiting you or helping you be the best you can?
· Are there any traumas or childhood memories that infertility is triggering for you? How can you use your experiences now to process your past, and find healing?
· Consider your support network. Family, friends and partner – do you have the acknowledgment and care you need? If not, what can you do right now to love and support yourself? Can you identify sources of strength to “feed” you along this journey?
· Most of us have very primal, knee-jerk reactions to infertility. Think about your deeply held beliefs about masculinity, femininity, and what it means to be a family, or to be a successful adult. Is it time to update or expand these beliefs? Can you see any areas where you’re ready to grow or change?
· Infertility has a way of bringing certain things more sharply into focus. It can give you a fresh perspective on your lifestyle and long-term goals. Now might be the time to consider your habits, your relationships and your self-concept. It might be time for a small change like getting more exercise …or a big one like reevaluating your long-term career plans.
· Be honest and gentle with yourself. Recurrent miscarriages or failed IVF attempts can drain you emotionally and physically. But stop, take a deep breath and listen to that voice inside. In the end, you are in control. What do you need?
A psychologist or counselor can be present as you work out all the above and more. They can show you how to use hypnotherapy, visualization, inner child work or even couple’s therapy to get to the root of your unique experience. Infertility is a medical issue, yes, but it’s also a powerful opportunity to work on personal development!
As always, I welcome anyone to share his or her experience in the comments.