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On Hope, Happiness and Infertility
a blog by Suzanne Rico, February 6, 2013
I met a woman the other day: forty-two years old, high FSH, a couple of failed IVFs, and sad eyes that I recognized from my days of trying unsuccessfully to have a baby. "How did you stay optimistic?" she wanted to know, her desperation and frustration reaching out for any kind of lifeline. I looked at her worried, unsmiling face, remembering those years where optimism often seemed a slippery slope for the foolish or naive, and my eyes teared up. With my mother now fighting for her life against Stage IV cancer, I have become one of those fools again--the one who, without the luxury of believing in miracles, would crack under the pain and pressure of reality.
But recently I have been reminded in ways both concrete and ephemeral that keeping hope alive is neither foolish nor naive. Hope has, in numerous studies, been identified as a primary agent of health and healing--two keys to winning, whether you're fighting infertility or cancer--and the connection is pretty simple. The more optimistic and hopeful one is, the more likely she will realize her goals. In terms of proving this theory, my mother could be Exhibit A. Even as she faces dying, her optimism remains intact. And guess what? Ever since doctors stopped all treatment, saying she was out of options, my mother has been getting better.
"I have decided I want to LIVE, and I'm working toward that goal," she wrote to me recently in an email. "To be unhappy right now is counterproductive. I need my natural optimism. I need calm. And despite great pain, these last several months with my family have been the most precious days of my entire life. How could I be unhappy?"
It is not for me to provide a list of things you can do to stay hopeful. That is a path as individual as a fingerprint--and sometimes as difficult to identify. What I will say is that it is important to look for the blessings hidden in every challenge, and to focus on them as often as possible. For me, through seven IVFs and three miscarriages, the silver linings were the deepening connection with my husband and deepening understanding that family is the most important thing in the world. So take a moment and look inside--you may just find something worth smiling about.
"Hope," said poet Emily Dickinson "is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all."