You are here
It Is Okay to Feel
A blog by Chelsea Ritchie, March 12, 2015
Infertility comes with such a complex mixture of emotions. If you are anything like me, it’s almost shocking to know that such a wide range of feelings can be compacted down into one heart, one mouth, one brain. My emotions sometimes remind me of a compound butter. It seems so neat when cold and molded into a little ball but then once it hits anything hot, it melts, explodes, leaks all over. Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like your emotions are just leaking all over, so many feelings adding layers of complexity? No one else feels like THIS, do they? Why am I not handling this better? Why am I melting all over the place?
I am here to tell you today that everything you are feeling is normal. Every emotion, as complex as it is, seems to be part of the complex recipe that is infertility. Let me reassure you today that if you have felt any of these emotions, you are in good company:
1. Alone and Misunderstood Doesn’t anyone realize how isolating this is? Even though you read that this affects 1 in 8 couples, why isn’t anyone talking about it? Why are my friends and family avoiding the topic? Why is everyone skittish when the word “baby” is brought up around me? Doesn't my friend understand that I am not mad at her because she is pregnant, I am just sad because I am not? Why isn't anyone just listening? If you ever feel alone and misunderstood, you’re normal.
2. Jealous This is such a great battle and one that we all face. It’s that tickle that creeps up in Target when you see that mom walking around with her baby in that cute little sling. It’s the sting that sneaks up on you when you walk past a group of waddling pregnant women mall walking while stroking their baby bumps. It’s the gripping sensation on your heart while sitting around a baby shower circle when you realize you don’t have any advice to contribute to the nursing technique conversation. It’s a bitter emotion, one that has to be managed, because it has the potential to do the most damage to your relationships. But if you ever feel jealous, you’re normal.
3. Anger This emotion is the roaring burn. It’s how you feel when you wake up and you legitimately want to throw something that will shatter because you feel so mad that you're on this journey. It’s the feeling of anger that makes you mean when you don’t want to be mean. It’s when your heart is on fire and you point fingers and blame yourself, God, your husband, your neighbor, your 5th grade teacher … anyone is in the line of fire with anger. Anger grows rapidly, like a campfire in a dry forest. The last thing we want to do is bring out water because if you are anything like me, anger sometimes feels really good. But anger also is all consuming, so don’t stay in this emotion long. Hose it down. But if you ever feel angry, you’re normal.
4. Weariness How much longer? My heart aches. My body aches. My relationships ache. I don’t know if I can do this much longer. How do I keep going? Will I ever be able to put another foot forward? Can I handle this one more day? If you have every felt consumed by the feeling of weariness, you are normal.
5. Guilt and Shame Women are supposed to have babies, right? Feelings of absolute inadequacy take over and you feel defective. You keep fighting for something that comes so naturally for others. If only my husband married someone else … You feel helpless. You feel like you have failed as a woman. You start to think others look at you as defective, broken, weak. And suddenly you are living in this shadow of who you dreamt you would be, who you perceive others see you as and you feel so guilty and ashamed of being unable to start or add to your family. In these moments, have empathy on yourself. Remind yourself that you are not defined by your ability to conceive. Give yourself permission to see yourself as someone fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14). Resist blaming yourself. But if you ever feeling guilty and ashamed, you are normal.
6. Hopeful and Optimistic It’s wonderful when your tank feels full. Sometimes I wake up so hopeful and optimistic I scare myself. What’s next? Should I feel this content, happy, and hopeful? Why am I not crying today? Hope is a wonderful feeling; it’s rooted in the possibilities that lie ahead. If you ever feel hopeful and optimistic, you are normal.
7. Sentimental Have you ever pushed out your hormone-induced belly and pretended like you are sporting a baby bump? Ah, it will look so good on you. Sure, it’s simply from the progesterone you are on, combined with the pizza from your dinner craving last night, but today, it’s the most precious swollen belly you have ever seen. You may even snap a bathroom mirror selfie as your heart swells with warm fuzzies because you CAN picture what you will look like pregnant. Or maybe you get extra mushy walking through the baby section at Gap. You gently touch the onsies and feel sappy as you envision putting your future child in them after bath time. If you ever get sentimental, you are normal.
Here’s the thing, there are a million more emotions not listed here that women struggling with infertility feel every day. Lost, confused, brave, disappointed, courageous, contemplative. Give yourself the permission to feel, be aware of what causes you to spiral backwards and stay on top of it. Don’t let your heart get overworked with the emotions but also, know that you are not alone in feeling them. Bottom line, infertility doesn't win when we don’t allow it to consume our hearts. Be strong my friend, be courageous, and trust that one day, this will be but a whisper behind us. What about you? What emotions are you dealing with today? Share below and let's remind one another we aren't alone!