8 needs that had helped me to get through our brutal fertility journey…

Geiranger fjord, Beautiful Nature Norway panorama. Nature photogA woman asked me recently…”what can I do that this brutal journey doesn’t destroy me…?”

I know her feelings only too well, I have been there. It cost so much energy. Wanting to become a mom and receiving many “not pregnant” along the way – is very devastating. At the same time seeing others living your dream – is so stressful.

How can we even get through this without getting destroyed along the way? I learned it by making a U-turn. I had to get know myself very well in order to be able to help and support myself and not to fall apart.

We had about 110 “No” along our 7-years fertility journey, whether it was a “not pregnant” or a “no baby” during our adoption journey. It was a lot to take in. I had to find my needs in order to get through this brutal journey.

Here some of my stories finding my core needs.

Socializing: I went to lot of networking events, being among people was often a very helpful energy, it made me feel alive and it was a great distraction. However not always. There were days where it wasn’t a good choice at all and I had to learn it the hard way. I remember one time I just had learned that another IVF trial had failed and the “not pregnant” message still stuck in my heart like knife. I felt incredible vulnerable and raw… However I thought it would be helpful to be among people. I decided for a luncheon of my International Club. Usually there were mainly lovely older ladies, which I thought would be a great safe place for me with no “pregnancy announcements”. Well I was badly wrong….I sat at a table with about 12 women and right in the first minute, my bottom had hardly touched the chair yet…when the one next to me jumped up and got all excited pulling out her phone and screamed “I became a grandma yesterday” and she passed around the first pictures of her grand child – I froze – I felt blindsided. I thought I was safe. How could I even think that – of course I wasn’t….and within seconds it took off like a storm. Everybody at the table had something to add, either, “Yes me too” or “We got pregnancy news last week” or even better “I hope my daughter is becoming pregnant soon as well, because I want to be a grandma”. I felt like I was in the eye of a storm. I still don’t know how I made it from the table into the lobby, but all I remember was that I burst into tears and thought I would lose it. I remember hectically dialing my sister’s number – hearing her voice took me out immediately of this terrible public exposure – it made me forget everything around me. Talking and sobbing with her was exactly what I needed to process my pain at this point. From this experience on I chose social events very wisely and listened to my body first.

Art: When I was most vulnerable I loved spending time looking at art. It felt like being on a journey with myself, it was so soothing, diving into pictures or looking at sculptures and just losing my thoughts in the piece of work. I felt extremely connected and I think my vulnerability was the reason for this deep connection. No wonder artists often make their best pieces when they are in emotional pain. Emotions and creativity come from the same source.

Painting: I always wanted to paint and during those 7 years I started doing it, it became a wonderful outlet for my feelings. I painted abstract…whatever came to my mind and whatever felt good. I remember, once being at another painful spot, I painted a very smooth picture all in light pink colors…I looked at it and I was wondering, why I chose this soft pink pastel color and why did it become this tender picture? From what I felt, I expected a picture with wild colors and a lot of black…but it turned out very soothing like a happy place. A year later when I took a class for art therapy I learned that our emotional repair system chooses what we need, either by letting our inside come out or our system chooses to sooth us – clearly in my case it was the latter. I was so impressed and fascinated and I thought to myself, why is it so normal to us that our body is able to heal itself physically, a cut in the skin, broken bone you name it, however when it comes to emotional injuries we are so skeptical and hesitant that it can do the same for us. With all the technology and the pace of our lives we must have unlearned it. Good thing is, it is in us – and never too late to recall it.

Body Awareness: Hardly anybody is happy with his/her body not even models. That should make us think – because it is such a waste of energy. In a perfect world we all would like to tweak here and there. However along our 7-years long fertility journey I was so short of energy that I came to a point where I only felt gratitude for my body, there was no energy left for any critics. I had put my body through so much with all the medicine, hormones, shots, doctor visits and not to forget the disappointments and frustrations of “not pregnant” that I thanked every single cell of my body for playing along all those years. I started having a different relationship over time. It felt much easier to connect in order to feel my body’s needs. I realized I didn’t have to force my body to workout. I simply started to have the feeling of wanting to move my body. I go running in nature no matter whether summer or wintertime. It just feels so good. And if my legs feel like they carry weight, I tell my body, let’s keep rolling and see how far we get. I let my body decide and not my brain. Interestingly 99% of the time I finish my usual route. Same with Yoga. My motto: “Yoga is not to get your ass tide, it is to get your head out of your ass.” Most Yoga injuries happen when we look to our neighbors and force our body to do things we are not capable off. I wouldn’t want to miss a second of the feeling in my body during a yoga postures, so I don’t even know who is next to me. It’s my precious Me-time. Our body is our biggest treasure, the one and only that makes life possible. It deserves better than a constant kick-ass from the brain, because it can kick back a million times harder and when it does – it can get ugly.

Traveling: When we received a phone call from our adoption agency, from which we first thought it would change our life into becoming a family, we sadly learned the opposite, our birth mom had a change of heart and decided to keep the baby. Our world was shattered – again another “No”. The very next day Andy and I left for a road trip, we both had planned vacations anyway, since we thought we would be new parents, so we took advantage of our free time and we explored new national parks we hadn’t seen yet and hiked through the most beautiful landscapes. Being in nature was extremely nurturing. It was the best we could have done processing our pain of not becoming parents yet. Traveling became a great soothing part of our fertility journey, either little trips over the weekend or bigger ones to places we didn’t know yet. It gave us strength and energy along the way.

Me-time: People think, if they make time for themselves it is selfish. I disagree. It is self-care. If our internal world is balanced our external world will follow. I need time to myself for recharging my batteries in order to function well. I enjoy having a coffee, reading a book, going for a run, or seeing a friend…whatever I feel I need. If there is no time – I make time.

Hubby- Time: Spending time with my husband. Having dinner together until we are too tired for cleaning up. Until today with our little one, after we put him down we cook together and eat, sit and talk. This time is crucial for us to stay connected and attached in each others lives. It wasn’t always easy though throughout our fertility journey, when we talked about our feelings about having a baby and we weren’t on the same page. One was in a good place about our situation and the other one was in a grieving spot, but we still wanted to be there for each other. That was hard on both of us. What had helped the most at those points was my fertility coach, talking to her about my feelings was a big support for me and our relationship. I always shared my sessions with Andy, so I could pass on her support to him as well. It helped us growing further together as opposed to losing each other in the ups and downs of our feelings.

Friends: I had many cafe lattes and glasses of wine with my friends in those 7 years. I kept this circle small though, because along the way I figured out who was a good match for me sharing my deep feelings with and who wasn’t. They all meant well, but a lack of empathy can be very hurtful and more pain is not necessary and often not even bearable. Therefore it is crucial to choose the right company. It was so healing for me being with the-right-close-friends and being able to share the pain of our journey. We cried and laughed together…anything was possible.

Work: What was important to me during this time was to have something to myself and my work has always been my passion. I was grateful for that I could set myself goals and wrap my mind about other things than becoming pregnant. However going through IVF and several other “No” along the way was extremely draining. I found myself some days exhausted already by noon, my energy level was so low that I had problems to nearly function the way I was used to. The only way out and recharging my batteries was by building small islands for myself during the day. We are back to enjoying small things, a cup of coffee, a little treat now and then or what had helped me tremendously was going for a 30min walk each day through the neighborhood and near park, this kept me awake and nurtured my senses. Whatever it is that helps, most importantly – be aware of your lacking energy. Don’t fight it. Pretending this journey isn’t stressful and there is no problem is only adding stress.

HOWEVER with all core needs in place there will be times where NOTHING helps – all you feel is sadness and there is not one energy atom left to lift yourself up.

And it is totally OK. I remember those moments where all I could do was surrender.

Take your time for grieving. Feeling is healing. It will bring back enough energy for fulfilling your needs again and with it feeling whole again. It is like a little cycle.

And one day there will be an END to all this torture. One day you will hold your baby in your arms – until then become your best friend. Start with your needs today. You won’t regret it. Knowing them is a gift for a lifetime.

If you like to share your needs, I am happy to hear them…

If you need someone to talk to, I am here for you. Contact me.

Love, Birgit

IFS Practitioner & Fertility Coach

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