Did surrogacy work for you? How may rounds did you do?
Have you thought of adoption?
The questions I get from my own community, albeit delivered with compassion (most of the time), that still poke the shame monster.
One of my greatest inner critic gremlins this shame monster tortures me with is:
You will never belong.
When the gremlins of scarcity, shame, perfectionism, comparison and fear weasel their way into my head, this is the story I make up.
I've done the work, I am a Certified Daring Way™ Facilitator (based on the work of Brené Brown) for goodness sake. But having Brené's wholehearted courage work quite literally in my bones does not mean I get to escape the darkness of shame, it's not a magical super power.
But damn, the thoughts of I am not enough, I will never belong are enough to take anyone to their knees.
For me, the arena where I live my true calling on this earth can be one of the biggest triggers for these thoughts.
I am an infertility advocate. I am a thriver of infertility. And still, this arena can be one hell of a battle that, if I am not practicing my own work, will leave me face down and bloody in the dirt.
My gremlins like to torture me with you don't belong thoughts like
You are not a mother.
You've never even been pregnant.
You gave up.
You don't have the happy ending, people will never listen to you.
You say too much, people aren't ready for that vulnerability.
They will always ignore you.
They will never acknowledge you.
They don't like your messages.
They don't like you.
A lot of this is my own history and things I have learned to overcome, however some of it is also fueled by the unhealthy messages that can be in the infertility community.
The messages I am determined to change.
Yes, I also support our community to #startasking for the mainstream messages we need - however I have many caveats to them.
Better insurance coverage. Yes! However, I do not think it needs to be endless insurance coverage. Every family must determine what their enoughs and everything is. I simply cannot support endless years of trying and unlimited rounds of treatment. We must start talking about active acceptance of what cannot be changed in this journey and sharing a healthier definition of hope. I also strongly believe that mental health care must be included, if not required, in infertility treatments (this shouldn't really come as a surprise).
Media coverage. Yes! But I am tired of the 'never give up' message from celebrities who have way more resources than I do. And, I am tired that the only story that seems to get decent coverage is the one that ends with pregnancy and/or adorable babies. There are many versions of the happy ending in the infertility journey and they all deserve to be seen and heard. Our community needs to see and hear them especially.
Asking for support. Yes! But we must remember this has to start with us. Our friends and family, and especially society, will never be able to give us what we want and need to survive, let alone thrive, through and after this journey unless we are sharing our truth.
My biggest #startasking is to my own community to speak. No pressure to write the book or the blog or to even go public on social media. But you must speak your story to your loved ones. This journey is just too hard to survive it with your partner and your doctor as your only support.
Do the work of asking yourself what is holding you back from telling your truth.
Past hurt? Shame? Fear of being judged? Guilt? Fear?
All of the above?
I have spent the last few years shouting my story from the pages of my book and this public blog. I share the dark and I share the light. I share me. In this sharing I heal and honor myself, but most especially, I honor and mother my babies.
I've also spent the last couple of years helping my clients to own their stories, speak their truths and give themselves permission to feel it all through this journey.
It is some of the best, most rewarding and effective work I have done in 15 years of being a therapist.
As if I needed more convincing that speaking our truth is the single most important thing to help us through this journey, my #MoreThan1in8 project only gave me further proof. Hundreds of people broke their silence in the last few weeks. Thousands of people have viewed the videos with our stories and our faces. And, the messages keep pouring in from people who participated and from people who stumbled upon the project. Their biggest message, simple and yet more powerful than anything, is loving gratitude.
Sharing your truth will help. It is what will get us through this alive and well, thriving no matter what we get in the end.
Speak to your trusted friends and family. Speak to your partner more.
Please, just speak.
I honestly struggled so much with writing this piece, just as I did last year for the You Are Not Alone piece. I struggled so much I wrote two pieces and ended up sending the other one to HuffPost. As the advocate, this week has been full of magic, a ton of work, little sleep and more love and gratitude than I was ever prepared for. However, as the survivor it is also a week that can be difficult as the woman who IVF did not work for. Thank you to my community and my loved ones for the support throughout it. And, please, keep it coming as I have a dream opportunity tomorrow. Last minute, as in I just found out on Wednesday, I was asked to speak to 400 infertility patients. Here we go... I promise to share more about it tomorrow!