Forgiving Myself for My Emotions While Trying to Conceive

Originally posted July 26, 2015 on Merely Mothers (now Evie & Sarah)

Why is it when you’re trying not to think too much about something, it’s all you see? When you’re dieting, every commercial is for pizza and ice cream. When you’re dreading back to school, every display in the grocery store is tormenting you with shiny new pencils. And when you’re trying to conceive (TTC), pregnant ladies pop up like dandelions all over the place.

For some women TTC, pregnancy announcements, baby showers, and even events with kids of friends and family can be emotionally gut wrenching. They are reminders of what they so desperately want but haven’t yet been able to achieve. Jealousy isn’t exactly a trait someone strives for, which leads one to feeling guilty and wondering if she’s being selfish. It can turn into a torturous cycle of pain and self-loathing.

Do I know all this from my own TTC experience? Not exactly, but I sure know the feelings described above all too well. I experienced them in my twenties when it seemed every trip to the mailbox brought another invitation to a wedding I’d be attending as a singleton. All I wanted was to be starting a family with the right guy. Instead I was getting a collection of cocktail and bridesmaid dresses I’d never wear again. And I hated it. I didn’t hate that my friends were finding amazing men to marry and be happy with. I loved that part. I genuinely squealed in delight at each engagement announcement. And I was honored to attend, and especially to be a part of my closest friends’ ceremonies (and luckily, they all picked great bridesmaids dresses, too!). But I hated that somewhere in the back of my head, or my heart, I felt jealous and sad. It made me feel like an awful friend, an awful person.

Since then I’ve begun to learn, with the help of a few friends who give great advice on the subject, that no one should feel guilty for their emotions.

If you feel something, there’s a reason you feel that way. It’s not healthy to plaster on a smile and bury it, and it’s even worse to chastise yourself for it. I still might hold something in until I reach the car, turn on the shower, have dinner with a friend, or am on the phone with my mom, but I’m getting to a point where I can be a little more open about how I feel, at least to those closest to me.

So, yes, there are moments when I occasionally feel a pang of jealously or longing when I spend time with my nieces and nephew, or when a coworker announces she’s pregnant, or even walking through the maternity department at Target to get to the dressing rooms—I can’t help it, some of those tops are adorable. But rather than hate myself for feeling something completely normal, I’m learning to acknowledge it, deal with it (shopping therapy, anyone?), and then enjoy the high of sharing in another’s happiness.

And, surprisingly, it’s a lot easier than you think, especially when one of those quickly growing bundles of joy looks at you and says “Aunnie” for the first time. (He’s still working on that ‘t’.)

***

On a side note, I wanted to thank you all for your concern and support after my last post. Your positive thoughts and prayers did the trick; the cyst was indeed the kind that goes away on its own. I’ll be able to start treatment again next month!

In the meantime, Sarah and Evie have offered me an opportunity to expand my topics here. So while I’m still working on making my little miracle happen, I’ll also be doing a series of posts related to back to school issues. Yes, it will soon be that time!

 

Photo credit: Milazed

Two-Week Torture: Surviving the Waiting Period (No Pun Intended)

Originally posted on March 22, 2015 on Merely Mothers (now Evie & Sarah)

As with any new adventure in life, this journey toward single motherhood is teaching me a lot about myself. And I’m not talking about my biology, though I’ve certainly spent more time examining signs of fertility than I ever cared to. Nope, I’m talking about the stuff you can’t measure quantitatively. In this case, patience.

Recently I had my first IUI. The procedure itself was swift and easy; I was in and out of the office in a matter of minutes. Then came the next phase, the two-week wait (TWW). Two weeks. Two busy, work and fun-filled weeks. How hard could it be? I thought. My post-TWW self knows the answer: excruciatingly hard. But my naïve, pre-TWW self hadn’t a clue.

First mistake: I thought two weeks would go by fast. In reality it dragged on like a snag in my nylons on parent conference night, slowly growing worse and worse, becoming more and more impossible to ignore. Second mistake: I thought I could easily manage my anxiety. Then my car needed expensive repairs, my students turned in a mountain of work I needed to correct, and I had a 13-hour day smack dab in the middle of the TWW because of parent conferences (minus the runny nylons, at least). And my final mistake: I thought I wouldn’t get my hopes up. I logically knew it was only about a ten percent chance that it would work. But the optimist in me got the better of logic and began to turn every gas pain into a hopeful sign of implantation.

My disciplined plan to stay off the internet and refrain from peeing on a stick until day 12 flew out the window by day 9. Instead of unburying myself from some of that correcting, I spent hours researching everything from early pregnancy signs to daycare costs (one of many inducers of the midnight mini-panic attacks that plagued me during the sleepless stretch near the end). By the morning of day 10 I was down the rabbit hole. I’d cracked open the first home pregnancy test and wasted hours online. And I was pretty disappointed—not by the negative test result, but in myself.

I’m not that girl! my inner monologue screamed. I’m not impatient, undisciplined, or obsessive. Or am I? Had I forgotten that my parents taught me to read a digital clock well before most kids could tell time, just so I wouldn’t wake them up, all eager to start my day, at some ungodly hour of the early morning? Or that I can’t keep ice cream in the house for fear of finishing the container before noon? Or that I decorated my entire condo to look like Hogwarts for the release of the final Harry Potter book? Because those things sound a lot like the actions of someone who’s a wee bit impatient, undisciplined, and obsessive.

I guess I should have seen the crazy coming. But I didn’t, not this time. As disappointed as I was to have Aunt Flow arrive days ahead of schedule, it was probably a pretty good thing she did. I might have been carrying around pregnancy tests in my pocket for each and every pee by day 14. And I’m pretty sure that would have caused a stir at the middle school where I teach.

Good intentions and learning from experience aside, when something so potentially life-changing and wonderful is in my future, there’s no way I’m going to “Keep Calm and Carry On.” But letting it rule my life for two-week stretches at a time isn’t healthy either. So what’s my plan for next time? How can I embrace my proclivity to pee early and often and still stay sane? By allowing a little crazy each day.

As an obsessive to-do list maker (another sign I missed, apparently), I love planning out my week. I schedule in everything: household chores, school work, time to write, time to exercise, time to correct—and next IUI, time to obsess. This was advice shared by one of the many wonderful women on the Single Mothers by Choice forums, and it makes perfect sense. By admitting that I need a little time in these two weeks to get excited (and nervous), to get support, and to get answers, even unscientific Dr. Google answers, I won’t need to beat myself up when I give in. But by limiting it to a reasonable amount each day, leaving plenty of time to focus on the more important aspects of life, I won’t reach the end feeling I’d wasted two weeks with nothing to show for it but more stress. (Though hopefully I’ll have something to show for it, sooner rather than later!)

Waiting will never be easy. In fact, the more times I need to wait, the more torturous it will likely be. And not being the patient, disciplined, reasonable woman I thought I was adds some challenges. But challenges help us grow and change…or maybe they just help us see and accept ourselves as we are, as we’ve always been.

Acceptance aside, other suggestions on how to remain sane (or as sane as I ever am) are always welcome!