This last weekend I had the opportunity to attend an infertility conference held by a local support group called the Utah Infertility Resource Center. They had a full day of speakers covering all different topics related to infertility ranging from the importance of overall health when trying to conceive, how to cope with the trauma of infertility, recurrent miscarriage support, and so many more. It was a great day of information and so much support for one another.
One of the classes I attended was coping with the trauma of infertility. I have always known that my struggle with infertility has caused changes to my personality and mentality but I never put a title to it. I’ve never gone to counseling or seeked outside help because I like to do things my way on my own time. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there are times where an outside perspective helps in more ways than imaginable.
During the presentation, they brought up the topic of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the symptoms of it. I was floored when I read through the list and I had every single one. I knew I had some psychological, social, and mental issues from what I’ve gone through but never would have thought to label it as PTSD. PTSD has different degrees in which it affects people. For most of us we label the disorder with war veterans or those who have gone through something extremely tragic like car wrecks or crimes, but that is not always the case. Certain situations affect people in different ways. For instance, someone who has gone through the trauma of infertility will sometimes need to medicate to function, but others can handle it well enough on their own without it. It all depends on how the brain responds to the trauma. I know this isn’t an official diagnosis but it makes sense that it’s what I’ve been dealing with. Infertility is a trauma that is relived every month when your period starts, every procedure done, every shot given, and every doctor appointment. It’s extremely hard to continually get bad news and feel like you're inadequate with every test and check up you have.
The presentation then talked about coping techniques and how important self-care is during this process. This topic really hit home to me because it made me realize just how mean I have been on myself over the last few years, but especially the last 2 months. I have said some of the meanest things to myself, things I would never say to anyone else going through infertility or pregnancy loss. It forced me think about how I can become an overall happier person and at what point was I the happiest with myself in life.
I immediately thought of my health. I can honestly say I was a happier and more relaxed person when I put my health first by going to the gym and eating right. Notice that I reference my health, not weight. It’s that mind frame that I need to be reminded of. Going to the gym every day is not vain or selfish. In most cases, it’s an escape for people from certain points of their lives that they need to step back from. My outlook on exercise has completely changed since I started focusing on my mental health in conjunction with my physical health. I have no desire to be “perfect”. I want to be happy.
When going through infertility it’s easy to feel like your infertility is your identity because it’s all you focus on. When you tell other people in your life it’s often the topic of conversation as well because it sparks interest and empathy. It’s important to remember that we are more than infertile. We have a lot more to offer the world than our experience going through infertility and it’s important you remember all that you have to offer. Self-care plays a major impact on the mentality we hold during tough times. I recommend writing down a list of all the qualities you have that make you a great person in your journal. Writing has been proven to be very therapeutic so any time you feel overwhelmed or depressed open your journal and read the list of your amazing qualities.
I’m taking in all the advice I learned this past weekend and making an effort to practice at least one self -care item every day. I need this for myself right now. I can feel that this miscarriage has shook me in ways that I’ve never had before. I’ve always felt in control over my grief but over the past few weeks I haven’t been. I want to be able to focus on myself to be a better person and a better wife. Nate deserves it, but most importantly I deserve it.
Hi my name is Whitney and I'm a mom to 2 adorable boys. Here you'll find our story of infertility, adoption, grief, and hope. I'm an open book so you'll never know what I'll post next!