For better or for worse. When my husband and I said that phrase during our wedding vows I don’t think we could even imagine what “for worse” could possibly be. At that time, maybe I was considering an argument or having some financial troubles would be our “worse”.
Reflecting now, it amazes me that just two short years later and I can confidently say, I now know what our worse is. For us, the worse is having to hold yourself together as your loved one is being wheeled back to the operating room to undergo emergency surgery and fearing the absolute worse could possibly happen. The worse is finding out you’re expecting and then finding out you’re no longer expecting, multiple times. The worse is watching your relationship struggle because everything you’ve been through has disconnected and changed both of you. The worse is not knowing whether or not children is in your future any more because the emotional and physical trauma you’ve endure thus far has left you each too scared to try again.
As I am writing the above, I look at those things and just think how did we survive such traumatic life events. How did we experience all of that….throat punch after throat punch? And ironically, how is it that I feel happier and stronger than ever before?!
I know it is ironic because while the worse was occurring, all I wanted to know was how do I get to the place that I am at now. I sought out the advice and support of everyone who could relate. I talked with people in all aspects of fertility struggles. I spoke with women who were at the same stage we were, those who had overcome the struggles and had their miracle babies and those women who never did and had chose to adopt. I didn’t really know what I was asking for from them, I just wanted to be happy again, to feel strong, no longer broken and no one could give me the action steps to get there.
Well, I am here to tell you my experience of how I have bounced back from my worse…so here it goes. First of all, know it is different for every single person, every single couple. So as much as I wanted someone to tell me what to do to start feeling better and like myself again, no one could give me the recipe to being happy again. Unfortunately (Fortunately), you have to figure out your journey as you go and it will happen exactly how it is supposed to.
Next, it takes time. My type-A personality was not a fan of this. I fully believed I could rush through healing and achieve it as quickly as possible, in order to move on and continue with our journey of starting our family. This is not true. The harder I tried to heal fast, the deeper I would have to dig myself out. Healing takes time and without a doubt will never take less time that it fully deserves.
Feel everything. As you can tell from the paragraph above, I wanted to push through the feels. I am very fortunate to have a close friend advise me to make sure I allow myself to feel. I have read that the more you suppress the “bad” feelings, the less you’ll be able to experience the “good” feelings. This is now a concept I connect with the idea of paying respect to my feelings and certain life events and emotions warrant a particular emotional response. Through our worse, I have worked hard to make sure I am coping, grieving and crying when I need to so I can smile, laugh and be happy when I want to.
Lastly … Faith > Fear. I know there are some aspects of life you have to take the wheel. Make sure what you’ve envisioned is being pursued and you are in control of your path. Well in fertility, I would say the complete opposite— let go of the wheel. Give up the ‘control’ and let it happen. From my experiences personally and with working with many couples through their fertility challenges, the more you try to control it the more you get stuck. It goes completely opposite of every woman’s instinct to keep pushing through and to work harder to get the outcome you’re looking for but this is exactly what we should not be doing. Releasing your grasp on the steering wheel, pulls your body out of stress response mode and thus allows growth and development occur. This is key for optimal fertility.
Shifting your perspective on your control of the journey is when you realize you have to be patient and have faith. Let faith in yourself, your body and the “process” outweigh all of your fears. Not only is this balance key to allowing your body to relax but it is freeing- it washes away your worries, brings your personality back and reconnects you with your spouse.
This freedom brings peace. I never thought I would be able to get to a place of being at peace with everything that has occurred. I honestly didn’t even realize I had found peace with it until very recently when sitting across the desk from a couple who were in the midst of their worse. Long story short this couple had just experienced an anniversary of a loss and it was in the middle of a conversation with them about the emotional trauma and stress they’re experiencing that I realized it. I realized that I was finally at peace with our journey and I was meant to be the person sitting across from them that particular day. I was able to convey my peace, calmness and hope to them during their “worse”. At that moment, our journey finally had meaning and this is when I knew I had finally bounced back to my strong and happy.
Dr. Jen Givens