“The healthiest way to approach tough emotions is to accept them. Instead of distracting yourself when you’re feeling sad, angry, guilty, or anxious, try taking a few deep breaths and naming the emotion.”– A Healthier Happy by Ginny Graves in Real Simple’s special edition The Power of Positivity
Most of the time, I do okay with the fact that I’m not yet pregnant. I have space to manage all of the emotions that come over me in waves. There’s a touch of disappointment every time my period starts, despite being mentally prepared for it. There’s a bit of a sting every time a different friend tells me they are pregnant. And yet there’s still a bit of hope that I maintain for myself in the midst of all of it.
But today has been a hard day, rounding out a hard week. I usually have the capacity to deal with the little emotional hits to some extent, but the hits have kept coming this week. It’s like I’ve got no safety barrier left – no cushion left to soften the blow. There’s no time to recover before the next hit comes.
Last week started with a friend texting me to tell me she was pregnant. She was sensitive to my feelings, and I appreciated her sharing with me rather than hiding it. But it still hurt a bit. I was able to find space to hold all my emotions at once, feeling excited for her while simultaneously feeling grief for myself. Sometimes I feel like an emotional plate-spinner, or maybe a juggler or something.
My period started three days later. I knew it most likely would. The signs were there, I just always hope that maybe I’m wrong. Maybe this will be the one time I’m wrong. Please, let me be wrong.
I was around a number of babies this week, babysitting one and meeting a coworker’s grandchild, and that was unusual. I don’t typically see many babies in my day to day life. It’s not like seeing a baby or being around a baby automatically makes me sad, but it just added to the emotional strain of the week. Oh yeah, I remember what having a baby was like. I wonder if I’ll ever experience that again?
The final hits came today, when at two different times in two totally unrelated situations, I was asked if I was going to have any more children. Thankfully, I don’t get asked this question often. The last time I was asked it was almost a month ago. So it was a very strange day to be asked this question by two different people before it was even lunchtime.
The first time I was a bit taken aback. I didn’t know how to respond. But I did know it hurt. A lot more than I was expecting it to. I didn’t want the hurt to be obvious on my face. What does my facial expression look like? Get it together! “We’ll see,” was all I said. I wanted to be brave about it, I wanted to be able to share openly about my and my husband’s struggle with secondary infertility, but I didn’t feel like I had the capacity. Granted, I was asked in front of a small group of people, and I just really didn’t want to start talking about this in front of an audience, especially if I was going to get emotional.
I thought about going back to that person later and telling them the rest of the story, but I never did. I initially felt a bit guilty about that, or perhaps ashamed that I felt like I was hiding it. But after talking to Dean, he said I should feel empowered to not share things if I don’t want to. He reminded me that I need to honor myself and give myself space sometimes, and that’s okay.
Just because I’m very open on my blog about infertility, doesn’t mean I’ll always be in the head space to talk about it openly in person. Just because most of the time I have zero secrets, doesn’t mean I should feel like a failure if I want to keep something private every once in a while.
For those reading this, I don’t want you to feel like you can’t ask me about this issue, I am glad to be asked if it would help someone else to share my experience.
But I do want to give myself and others out there permission to not be brave or strong or positive all of the time. It’s okay to need time to breathe, to take a mental health day, to not be okay. It’s okay to not be perfect all the time.
It’s okay to have feelings, and to honor those feelings. It’s okay to set boundaries. Obviously I think there’s a balance. I don’t want to stay in my “bad day” mindset forever, but for today, it’s okay. Tomorrow’s a new day.