We’ve all experienced disappointment before. It is uncomfortable, sometimes painful, but we move through it, pick ourselves up and try again. But the disappointment of infertility is like nothing else I’ve experienced – it is relentless.
Each month I hoped that I would be pregnant. I put everything into it. When it didn’t happen, I felt disappointed and disheartened. That happened again, and then again, and again. Month after month, year after year. Each time the disappointment compounded. It was like a scab continually ripped open so that the wound never got the chance to heal.
The disappointment didn’t go away when I tried not to think about it. What happened to it? Looking back on my experience, I think it firmly lodged in my heart, slowly taking up all available space. There was little room left for joy. The disappointment turned into sadness, grief, and possibly even depression. It made my heart, and my spirit, sick.
It was hard for me to let myself feel that deep disappointment. I was hopeless at allowing myself to authentically experience what I was feeling. I thought if I didn’t focus on it, if I ignored it, it would magically disappear. I didn’t know any other way. Eventually I was forced to deal with it.
If you are anything like I was, we tend not to be great at experiencing emotions fully without wishing it were a different way. I was a great pretender on my fertility journey. I was a firm member of the ‘be positive’ club and the ‘never give up hope’ camp. I can see now that this didn’t work so well for me.
What did work for me was talking about how I was feeling. I learnt what it meant to be vulnerable. I’ve learnt how to ask for help. I’ve learnt to find the support that is right for me.
Practises like meditation and mindfulness were instrumental in connecting me to what I was really feeling. They helped me come to a place of peace and acceptance. I’m better at not getting stuck in my emotions because I allow myself to experience them. Emotions like disappointment, don’t get pushed down and locked away so quickly. I welcome them and even honour them. I’ve got curious. Most importantly, I’ve learnt to be compassionate with myself.
There is an old Buddhist story about a monk that Maryanne Williamson shares in her book Everyday Grace, that I love. The Monk stood crying at the grave of his master when a traveller came by and saw his tears and asked ‘Why would you cry? I thought you were enlightened!’ The monk replied ‘Because I am sad.’
Disappointment is just one of the many emotions that come with trying to get pregnant. It has many friends – grief, sadness, resentment, jealousy, anger, exhaustion – I could go on. Disappointment on its own is a lot to deal with, but of course there is so much more that we are experiencing. This business of ttc is a tough gig. Sometimes our emotions just need to be felt in order to be transcended. But remember, you do not have to do it on your own.