What no one tells you about infertility part 2: A new view of Success
I still remember the disappointment, anger, and rush of sadness when my husband and I were told 7 innocent not intended to harm words, “Oh yeah, you don’t have a family.” In the moment it didn’t faze us and we went on with our day but over the course of that week we kept dwelling on those words, “we don’t have a family.” For people who are already struggling to create a family, and for me who feels family is everything, those words stung. The words seeped in and dug a hole in an already sore crumbling part of my heart. “I don’t have a family,” and there it was. Those words became a statement of my lack of success, reinforcing the already existing feelings of being “broken”, which create a downward spiral of negative thinking and led to my withdrawal from everyone that matters.
"The words became a statement"
Usually, people view success as achieving the realization of your top goals. My view, or goal, for being successful in my adult life is to have a family with kids. When that didn’t happen in the timing I thought appropriate, I did not feel successful. I looked at those around me with families, and my friend’s lives filled with the ups and downs of parenthood, and saw them as glorious successes, while our empty nest was far from it. I have always felt that this infertility journey is like being frozen while everyone else’s lives keep going and changing. This view has caused many meltdowns as well as the inability to see beyond the pain of longing for something we don’t yet have.
Once I chose to widen my view of success and focus on the many things I do have to be thankful for, my whole perspective and attitude changed. This shift in perspective changed my husband and my relationship as well. Instead of withdrawing, I chose to reconnect and rediscover him. Even though we don’t have children yet, it does not mean that I don’t have a family or can’t develop my family successfully. Currently our family consists of my husband, three fur babies, and me. Re-directing my focus on helping them and being the wife and mom I want to be for Matt and our fur babies has instead given me a place to grow and develop while waiting. Also, not basing my success off of other people’s lives and realizing that I need to look inward and Upward more than I look outward. Am I doing what I can and using what I have today to be the best person I can be right now? If so then I’m successful! When we focus too narrowly on a certain goal and let that one goal define us, we are more likely to feel as if we’ve failed when that goal is not met in the time and manner we had hoped for. By broadening your view of success and adding smaller more attainable goals you change the perspective of success.
"My beautiful family"
God gives each of us different talents and gifts and various areas of influence. While I may not be a “mom” in the traditional sense, I can use my desire and motherly abilities to “mother” others and find my joy and success in being a teacher, a nanny, and a mentor. Focusing on those areas of my life and finding ways to take my love for children and use them in ways outside of my family has helped me re-direct and change my overall view of what success means. I can work towards becoming “Mom” by establishing smaller benchmark goals to lead up to parenthood. Whether that is bettering who I am outside of the “mom” title via a degree, hobby, etc. or financial freedom and success by saving money for baby. It has never been about not becoming a “mom” but more about the when. I know that even if we don’t have biological kids that I WILL be a Mom one day through adoption. Until then I have learned to focus on developing me outside of the dream, which in return will only make me a more educated well-rounded parent when the time comes.
I have been shifting my focus, setting new attainable goals to work on, and using what I have right now instead of wishing for the things I don’t have. It doesn’t mean everyday is perfect or that I don’t think about being a Mom still EVERY… SINGLE… DAY. What it has changed is my ability to acknowledge those emotions while not letting them consume me, to be and do the best with what I’ve been given now, and to let that be enough. It takes constant re-directing, it isn’t just a one and done deal. As I go through the day and the negative thoughts creep in or I’m scrolling Facebook envious of the family photo or another pregnancy announcement, I have to remind myself to focus on my blessings and not on the things I don’t have. Choosing to focus on the amazing husband that I have instead.
And when it all becomes too much some days and I get in a funk, remembering that he and I are on the same team and to connect with him instead of withdrawing into my own bubble.