Being able to live a happy, fulfilling and purposeful life, when experiencing infertility can seem like an impossible task.
Whatever stage you are at in the fertility journey, becoming a mother or father becomes the centre of your world. Every waking moment you become aware of where you are in your cycle and those on the 'IVF train' have the long and often anxious six weeks journey of hope, excitement, joy and often disappointment. Unless you've been through it....you can't understand just how difficult the IVF process is, physically, emotionally and the strain created on your close relationships.
We live in a world where society gives us a script of the way we're 'supposed' to live our lives. For many, the 'Fairy Tale' is that we get married, have a baby and have another one...this is what is 'expected'. I've been there myself, imagining my 'perfect life', my children all sat around the farmhouse kitchen table...living the dream! So when and for whatever reason, our perfect picture or dream is compromised it can set off a whole range of emotions that are very difficult to deal with. Depression and anxiety are often the things that are triggered inside us that we need to deal with.
Dealing with involuntary childlessness is 'LOSS' and you need time to 'grieve'? It's losing a "life you believed you were going to have", a life that as little girls we are brought up to think that is what would happen for us. It wasn't until I realised this that I understood the feelings that were being stirred up and began to realise that it was 'perfectly normal' to be feeling sad and vulnerable.
People arrive at 'involuntary childlessness' for a variety of reasons. Infertility, marrying a partner who doesn't want children or leaving it too late, are only a few ways in which it manifests itself. For me, the eight years struggle trying to conceive was a rollercoaster and there were many dark times.
Dealing with involuntary childlessness can be tough to begin with, but using a variety of tools and techniques it is more than possible to begin to feel joy and happiness again:
Here's a few tips that helped me get though it:
1. SELF CARE
Self-care is one of the most important things you can do to help 'nurture and love your body'. Especially after IVF, reviewing your diet and exercise can be a great way to take back control and give your body what it needs. From taking a long hot bath, treating yourself to lovely food, taking a little walk or time to just be!
It is a cliché that 'time heals', at the time it wasn't what I wanted to hear but 'taking one day at a time' felt much more manageable. I felt that if I could initially just survive each day (whether at home or at work)....that was ENOUGH! Take each day as it comes and try not to beat yourself up.
3. EMOTIONAL FREEDOM TECHNIQUE (EFT)
Having EFT was the most significant thing I ever did with regards dealing with involuntary childlessness. By releasing the blockages within the body, it eliminated the source of the emotional intensity and discomfort. Being able to free the negative emotions, limiting beliefs and feelings of being a failure enabled me to be kinder to myself and release the blame.
4. LOOKING AT ALL AREAS OF YOUR LIFE
Having a look at all the areas of your life and 'identifying things that are not serving you' is an extremely powerful tool. It is very easy to lose sight of your different roles so setting some time aside to review the level of satisfaction of your job, for example, will again enable you to create a new vision of how your life could be.
'Communication is the key' to most issues in life. It is very easy to not want to talk about what we've been through and feel ashamed but I've found it really powerful to connect with people going through the same experience. Having someone who listens to our story, without judgement or giving advice is a priceless gift. We all need to have a 'space held' for us where we can express our deepest fears, feelings and anxieties. Getting involved in an online community is a great way to connect with other people in your situation: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thedovecoteorg/
Involuntary childlessness is a largely taboo subject but IT IS possible to live a happy, fulfilling and purposeful and AMAZING life without children.
If you would like to know more and connect with women in the same situation, I will be running a half day workshop titled 'Dealing with Involuntary Childlessness - Moving on' in Derby on Sunday 19th July 2015
Please get in touch via the website to register your interest http://www.thedovecote.org/
Facebook Community Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/thedovecoteorg/