At the beginning of my fertility journey, I was obsessed with peeing on predictor sticks. I agonized over the number of quality eggs I had left. I fiendishly scrutinized every flutter, ache, and pain as if it was some mythical sign of pregnancy. These of course seemed like the charming, Type A concerns of any woman who is trying to get pregnant. But what lurked at the heart of my vigilance was the most powerfully destructive emotion there is: fear.
My fear writhed around my head like Medusa's locks. Fear that I'd never get pregnant. Fear that I was too old. Fear that I was paying the price for having a successful career. Fear that I somehow wasn't good enough. Fear that my husband wouldn't want me anymore. Fear that I was a failure. Fear of what fertility treatment would entail. Fear of the crushing expense. Fear that somehow my life would be incomplete. Fear that I would end up alone.
Day in and day out this insidious fear gnawed at my soul. At times I could feel joy, laugh, and crack a smile, but the grey veil of my fears, obscured the vision I had for my life and robbed me of the sweetness I had once felt. I became a shell of the vibrant, funny, adventurous, loving, and hopeful woman I once was. Exhausted by the weight of my fear, the stress of my job, and the poking and prodding I endured during treatment, I made a choice to turn stop the fear spiral. Here is how I did it:
1) Call Your Fears Out
"Yeah fear, I'm talking to you!" List them one by one. Don't let them run and hide. Know exactly what they are. Know their names. Know where they live. They are much smaller on paper than they seemed in your head, right? No more shapeless boogeymen! My Darlings, you now have your HIT LIST. Rank them! Which do you want to punch in the nose first?
2) Share Your Fears with Your Partner
Oh man, oh man this is a tricky one. If you are anything like I was, the concept of letting other people know I was vulnerable and had fear, was a turd sandwich I could do without. Here is where you've got to suck it up. The fear you are carrying inside is too heavy for one person! When I shared my fears with my husband, not only did it help him understand why I was acting like a weirdo, it lightened my load. I gave myself a chance to be heard! There is nothing more important that being on the same page with your partner on this journey. Respect yourself and your partner by sharing the truth about your fears.
3) Tell Your Fears to Sit Down and Shut the F$#% Up!
Sorry, but when it comes to fear, it needs to be put in it's place. It's human to have fear. As you may know the fertility journey is rife with it, but you must take control. Tell the demons on your list of fears that you know they exist, but they will not run your life. The next time "Fear I will Never Get Pregnant" stands up and starts shouting at you, shout back. Tell that no good jerk that you are bigger and stronger! Why? Because you have HOPE and you know that no matter what, you are going to be HAPPY! Go back to your list of fears--come up with something you can shout back to each one of them (silently, or out loud, it's entirely up to you.) Give yourself permission to "stick up for you" in the face of your fears. Fears are just thoughts. You are REAL. You are FANTASTIC.
4) Be Kind To Yourself When Fear Starts Spiraling
Look, fear is tough. It is going to take practice to get good at shouting it down. The fears you experience on the fertility journey are the kind that cut to the very essence of your being. When you start feeling that your fear is spiraling, simply ACKNOWLEDGE IT. When I started to feel terror welling up inside me before an appointment or procedure, I would say things like, "Oh Fear of Failure, it's you again. Sit your ass down, I've got this!" Trust me, sometimes I had to say that a million times, but eventually, Fear of Failure took it's seat and shut the f$#% up (or at least kept it's voice down.) It will take work and practice, but it will happen!
5) If Your Fear Spiral Has Turned Into High Speed Vertigo...Get Help
I have shared some of the things that helped me put my fears in their place. You don't have to do this alone. Talk to friends you trust, your spiritual leaders, your pastor, or your family. Work with a coach! If you even suspect you need to see a doctor or therapist because your fears have gotten down right spooky, then make an appointment ASAP.
The Fertility journey is littered with so many fears--fear of the unknown, being one of the biggest. Coming up with a strategy to stop fear from spiraling out of control and making your life hell is key.
I have shared some of the ways I learned to put fear in it's place, I'd love to hear how you are working on it! Tell me in the comments what you've done to try and put your fears in their place!