Adjust Your Thinking about Fertility
Imagine feeling responsible for something over which you have no control. Yet women struggling with infertility do this time and again. One of the most common ways this misplaced guilt shows up is in the incessant chatter of negative self-talk.
Changing your thinking is possible, but the first step is to become more conscious of your thoughts. Sit down with a piece of paper, listen in on your self-talk, and make notes.
When one of my clients, Kristen, did this she was appalled by what she discovered. “I was saying things like, ‘Forget it… I‘m just a waste. I can’t have a baby. I can’t do anything.’ I never realized how much I was beating myself up, and how much my self-image was caught up in this struggle. No wonder I was feeling so stressed and defeated.”
Negative self-talk is not the truth of who you are, but simply thoughts you’ve made up based on your assumptions and experiences. Once Kristen realized this, she was able to shift her negative self-talk to thinking that more accurately reflected herself and her goals. “I thought about the whole of who I am, my strengths, the good things I have in my life. Now, whenever I feel myself getting discouraged, I restructure my thinking and say to myself, ‘I am a loving and generous wife, friend, daughter, sister. I enjoy my job, and feel like I make a difference with the volunteer work I do. I know I am doing all I can to have a baby, and I know that, one way or another, I will have a wonderful family!’”
When you think about yourself in a more supportive and positive way, it empowers you to stand on a solid foundation. And this can go a long way in helping you to deal with others, especially in sticky situations.
Make a Plan for Dealing with Others
Start planning how you’ll respond to some of those “innocent” questions, the ones that seem to strike right at the heart of your infertility struggle. Even a casual question like, “Do you have any kids?” can catch you off guard if you’re unprepared. Rather than feeling attacked by these types of questions, you can see them as opportunities to explain as much as you wish to with others. Saying something like, “We’re working on it, but it just hasn’t happened yet,” can give just enough information while letting people know that they’ve touched on a personal subject. Brainstorm with your husband, and even rehearse your responses, so you feel ready when the inevitable questions come.
Sometimes a comment can be insensitive, and feel more like a judgment. People may imply that you are selfish not to have children in your life. In these situations, you can try just ignoring the comments, or acknowledge the positive aspects of your life. Another option is to respond more directly, saying something like, “Despite what you seem to think, nothing would make us happier than to be blessed with a child.” Most people will get the message.