2020 has been a year that has given us so many reminders of how little control we really have in any situation. We like to pretend that we have our lives totally planned out, that we will be able to do what we want to do when we want to do it.
But then, SURPRISE! Life never works out that way.
Over a year ago, I really thought it was the right time to try for child #2. Literally last December I wrote a post about my decision to try to get pregnant again, and the emotional roller coaster that it had been. I never expected a year later that I would still be writing about attempting to get pregnant – and I really hope a year from now I’m not going to be writing about it anymore!
Each time that you see only a single line on a pregnancy test (or your period starts) is obviously disappointing. Some months it hits me really hard, and others I experience only a mild emotional reaction. I’m intentionally trying to make sure I stay in a healthy mental state as I continue to go through this process.
What does that look like for me? Below I’ll share five ways I’m coping with the waiting and monthly disappointment:
1. Pour my energy into areas where I am making definitive progress
Every month that you don’t get pregnant can feel like a failure. Maybe you didn’t get the timing right… maybe if you were eating better or exercising more… or taking this or that vitamin… You need to have areas in your life where you’re feeling successful and can be proud of what you’re accomplishing. I have two things that I am investing in right now: exercising and writing. After my foot surgery, I wasn’t sure if or when I would be able to run again, but I have been slowly working up to running over the past several months. And it has felt wonderful to watch my body make progress and get stronger! My other activity has been writing – writing daily. Writing is something I easily get lost in, and achieve “flow,” as some would call it. I’ve been waking up early to write every day, and have found a lot of joy in being more disciplined with my writing process.
2. Talk about it with trustworthy people
One month, when I had a particularly difficult reaction to getting my period, I reached out to two of my closest friends who also happened to be on their own trying-to-conceive journeys. I knew they would understand what I was going through and would be able to say the words I needed to hear at that moment. Whoever you share your most vulnerable parts with, make sure they will honor what you say and validate you – not everyone is a good candidate for this – choose carefully. I also have regular monthly sessions with my counselor, so inevitably I get a chance to talk to and process through my feelings with a professional, which is crucial for my emotional healing.
3. Pick a date in the future to worry about it
Part of getting caught up in anxiety is defaulting to worst-case scenario thinking and worrying about every possible “what-if.” The worst-case would be not being able to get pregnant ever again. But right now, it hasn’t been long enough for me to assume that I have fertility issues. According to “Women’s Health Matters,” women under 35 who are otherwise healthy don’t need to see a fertility specialist until they’ve been trying to conceive for 10-12 months. So, I’ve decided to worry more about it after I hit the 10-month mark. A friend even suggested penciling in time to worry on my calendar! (Not like I’ll forget.)
4. Tune into my spiritual side
Part of my morning ritual is waking up, making my coffee (it’s actually decaf, but it helps wake me up anyway), and taking some time to pray before I write. Often I pray about my efforts to get pregnant and for a healthy pregnancy in the future. It’s comforting to me to believe that there’s a bigger presence in this universe that controls a lot more things than I do. And I also have faith that things happen for a reason. *That being said, please don’t go to all your friends and tell them they aren’t getting pregnant for a reason… even if you believe that, that’s not what people need to hear – they need validation and empathy!*
5. Give myself grace and lots of self-compassion!
I am doing the best I can, (I’m sure you are too!) and I need to give myself credit for that. Perfection is not the goal, it’s okay to try and fail. Every time I don’t get pregnant, there’s a temptation to wonder what I did wrong, but most of the time the answer is probably NOTHING. I also need to remember that this is an emotional undertaking, and it’s okay if I have days or weeks where I’m struggling. Sometimes after my period starts, I treat myself to my favorite latte at our local coffee shop in town (it’s a lavender latte, yum!) Find something small (or big) that you can do for yourself when you get that BFN – as Tom and Donna would say, “treat yo’self!”