If after my last post you’re thinking I’m a little too positive about this whole situation, I’m going to let you in on a secret, I cry in the shower at least twice a week (and twice means I’m having a particularly good week). See regardless of how positive I spin this, as much as I can appreciate the perspective I’ve gained and the growth I’ve shown, not having a child when all you want to have is a child is still heartbreaking. Logging onto Facebook and Instagram and daily seeing a new pregnancy announcement or gender reveal never gets easier. Being surrounded by co-workers sharing their morning sickness remedies and growing baby bumps has not become something that doesn’t make my heart physically ache. Sitting at a baby shower is still actual torture for me. I have chosen not to live in the dark hole infertility has created in my life, but that does not mean I don’t allow myself to feel all the negative emotions that have come with this.
When I first started working in the hospital as a nursing assistant a patient who had been in our ICU for a few weeks cardiac arrested and we were unable to save her. I remember standing in the room as the doctor pronounced her time of death, it felt surreal that this person who I had spent countless hours caring for, whose family I knew on a first name basis, who the week before had started to improve, was now gone. It was the first time I saw death happen and it was a little too real and close for me to handle. The doctor must have sensed my emotions because he asked me to step outside with him and he said something that I will never forget “If you’re ever doing this job and death doesn’t affect you, it’s time to walk away. If you’re ever doing this job and death overwhelms you to the point you can’t do the job, it’s time to walk away. This is supposed to upset you, but it cannot paralyze you.”
Those words have dictated my professional practice for the past seven years, but they have also become my own personal philosophy as I go through this process. I don’t ever want to become immune to feeling the disappointment and anger that comes with this, but I recognize I cannot crawl into my bed, hide out and completely stop living life. So I made a decision to allow myself to acknowledge every emotion I feel during this, but I cannot allow those emotions to dictate my life. On bad days I cry in the shower, I cancel plans with girlfriends, I let myself feel disappointed, but only for one day. The next day I force myself to put on a bright colored outfit, I fix my hair and make-up and I go out on a date with my husband. This works for me.
I’m not the type of person who can fake my emotions, if something is too much for me (like attending a baby shower or helping my mother shop for maternity clothes for my sister) I do not do it. The best thing you can do during this time is put yourself first, be a little selfish, make decisions that are the best for you even if you know this will disappoint others, but do not become so self-involved you cannot see past your own hurt. Find the balance between allowing yourself to grieve for all the loss you’re feeling, but be strong enough to not allow the grief to overwhelm you. In the words of one kind-hearted physician “It cannot paralyze you.”