Remember the good old days when reaching milestones was fun?
Remember the milestones of firsts?
Going to your first party; your first kiss or your first boyfriend.
Your first part time job and first pay, the freedom of getting your licence and your first car.
Starting your first ‘real’ job, going on your first holiday without your parents. Buying your first home!
All those firsts. So many milestones to be celebrated and cherished.
Is today your birthday? Or, is your birthday just around the corner and you're still infertile?
Whether it’s a milestone birthday or not – it’s still a birthday … and a reminder that you’re still not a mother.
Today marks another year without a baby. Reminding you that you aren’t getting any younger and neither are your chances of conceiving.
You used to love birthdays – yours or anyone else’s! Maybe you were the organiser of cakes, gifts and surprise balloons to celebrate the special day? Were you the one who made sure everyone signed the card? Or maybe you were the first to start singing “happy birthday” at the celebration!
And now it is – or is nearly – your turn. Again. No baby. Again. What is there to celebrate? Birthdays and infertility really do suck!
Your birthday just reminds you of all those plans that haven’t eventuated. Still no baby. Still infertile. Still struggling with fertility. Yay!
By now you were supposed to have heard the pitter patter of little feet … at least once, maybe a couple of times!
By now you were supposed to be organising birthday parties for little people. But you’re not.
Your birthday is just yet another giant reminder you aren’t where you want to be. You are sleepless … but because of worry and stress … not because of a baby not sleeping through the night. Ugh. Birthdays and fertility REALLY suck!
Are people telling you to just think about something else?
How many people have told you to just think about something else and forget about your fertility – even just for this one day?! But how? How do you do you forget the years are marching on and your eggs are ageing along with you? How?
Firstly, remember it’s okay to feel all the feels. Your pain is real, and it should be acknowledged. When I say acknowledge it, I don’t mean wallow in it. Identify it, name it, be okay with feeling it. Let yourself see this as a totally crappy moment. Your feelings are real. Your feelings are meaningful.
Now that you’ve acknowledged the feelings, it’s a matter of choice what happens next. The harsh truth, which I know you don’t want to hear – you can feel the pain of this moment … or, you can suffer in the pain. This is your choice.
Let’s be honest, acknowledging the pain but not suffering in it is hard. Really hard.
Suffering is when you go over and over it in your head. It is when you beat yourself up for feeling those things. If you’re thinking “I don’t want, need or deserve this pain” – then then you have moved to suffering.
So how do you acknowledge the feelings and move on?
Here are some tips that might help:
Grab some time away: Think about taking some time out with your partner to spend some quiet time to acknowledge your pain and your birthday. Maybe this could be a weekend getaway. Could be a walk in the city taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. You might prefer a walk in the country or along a beach to feel the sand on your feet. No choice is right or wrong, it is doing whatever that is going to allow you the space to feel all the feels.
Share a meal: Treat yourself to a meal with a friend, family member or your partner to indulge in good food. Choose a person (or people) who love you for you – baby or no baby.
Journal your feelings: Again set aside some time for you and find a calming space. It doesn’t need to be a long amount of time – even 15 mins will do it. Once you’re comfortable, write it all down. Then, put the journal down. Walk away and take another look the next day … if you need to. Keeping the journal will keep the pain, so destroy it. Yes, you read that right – destroy it. If you don’t you’ll read it again and again and relive it with each read. What you need is to get the feelings out. Acknowledge them and then let them go.
Make a gratitude list: I know this will feel hard because you feel like crap right now! I promise it will help you gain perspective though. The list doesn’t have to be a ‘well at least I have….’ It’s accepting this is painful, and, it is only one part of your life – there are SO many other parts of your life that are worthy and even amazing.
Step outside your life and into someone else’s: Look at how you give in your life. Who do you support? People who are in pain and suffering, are able step out of their depression when they look to help others. In giving to others we let go of the suffering and often find purpose and meaning in our lives that we had forgotten.
This is your birthday. It’s okay to feel shitty today!
Remember though, you are an amazing human being, with many gifts and strengths. You are not your fertility journey and don’t let anyone – even your own mind – steal this day away from you. Happy birthday to you!