Two weeks ago I left the comfort of my small town in rural Midwest America and boarded an airplane that was headed out west to San Francisco. As I mentioned in my previous post that you can go back and read here, I, along with five other bloggers were invited by Jake and Deborah, the founders of FertilityIQ, to attend the first ever Fertility IQ Basecamp.
I had a suitcase that was packed with enough clothes, shoes, and beauty products to last me well past the three days I would be there. But in my defense, I had to. After all, I had never been to California, and therefore, I didn’t know what to expect. Would the weather be hot or cold? Would I be walking a lot and need my flats for those gorgeous, yet calf-burning hills? Or could I wear my new taupe booties that went so perfectly with my new pair of jeans?
I just didn’t know.
Much like I didn’t know what I should expect to gain from this trip.
I kept wondering if I would learn new tips to share with the infertility community on how to save money on fertility costs. Would I be able to gain new insight on how to come alongside my infertility sisters and help them learn new ways to cope with the grief, loss, shame and disappointment that can so often come from walking…maybe even crawling…on this path? Would, I, someone who has never even researched 3rd party reproduction, be able to understand and learn enough about it in order to help lessen the stress and confusion that finding an egg donor, sperm donor, or surrogate can bring?
Once again friends, I just didn’t know.
But what I did know was this: I, along with the other five bloggers, was going to give it our all. And our all is what we gave. For days we interviewed top doctors from Stanford Fertility and Reproductive Health, and took detailed notes on the Do’s and Don’ts of 3rd party reproduction, as well as, listened to the wise advice from a licensed infertility therapist who also leads a local RESOLVE support group. But that’s not all, we also had the privilege of touring Instagram headquarters as we learned about the importance of building community and awareness through Social Media, and then later had the special honor of sitting down via Skype with a top financial coordinator from a well-known infertility clinic in order to gain inside information on how to save up to 25% on your medical bill and nearly 50% on your medications.
It was a whirlwind of a weekend filled with lots of valuable information! And today, we are going to give you our all once again as we collaborate together in order to bring it back to you. So without further ado, check out the following links…
Chelsea over at Trials Bring Joy is giving you her all as she shares a peek into the weekend as a whole and how we set the agenda, based on all the questions you asked in our Fertility IQ Basecamp Survey.
Caroline over at In Due Time is giving you her all as she shares on how to build community and awareness through Instagram.
Nikol over at Not Just a Beauty Blogger is giving her all as she brings you valuable information from the top doctors at Stanford Fertility and Reproductive Health.
Katie over at Fourtified Fam is giving her all as she shares with you inside money saving tips for medical procedures and fertility medications.
Jake and Deborah over at FertilityIQ is giving their all as they provide information that will help guide you through the essentials of 3rd Party Reproduction.
Lisa over at Amateur Nester is giving her all as she shares with you the insight she gained from a top therapist and trained RESOLVE support group leader on how to lead an effective infertility support group.
And me? I am giving you my all as I share with you on the one thing we need to let go of during infertility.
It was mid-Saturday morning when Beth Jaeger Skigen, a top licensed therapist and trained RESOLVE support group leader sat down on the couch next to me. And from the moment she began to speak, I found myself captivated, frantically scribbling down every word that she spoke. I have notes on how we can walk the fine line between having hope, yet remaining realistic. And notes about how our husbands grieve, just differently. I have notes regarding making the choice to remain childless and how to face grief head on. I even have a full page of notes on a few do’s and don’ts when leading an infertility support group. So much information. So many notes. But while looking through them in preparation to write this post, I realized there was a section of notes missing. And it’s because my pen stopped writing…
You see, the second Beth began to share with us her belief that the single most important thing we can do for ourselves is to let go of the picture perfect plan of how we think our life “should” look and instead accept it for what it is and have faith for what it will be, I froze. Because much like I didn’t know what to wear while in California, I also didn’t know that this was exactly what my aching heart needed.
I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself on the floor in a puddle of tears, feeling numb and almost in disbelief that the life I am living is mine. It’s as though I am a character in a play called life and I am reading the wrong script. I keep looking back to when I was in high school, sitting in my senior English class and drafting my five-year plan. I was certain that I was going to graduate from college (which I did) marry shortly after (also accomplished), spend a year just being a newlywed (loved our first year as just the two of us), and then have three children by the age of 30. But here I am, 33, living with the devastating effects of an invisible illness known as PCOS and struggling to even have one.
And it’s wearing on me.
I once read a quote by Socrates that said this, “The one thing that screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it is supposed to be.” And how true is that? Because as I keep holding onto the “by now I should be…” or “by now I should have been…” thoughts, I am weakened. It breeds feelings of failure. And resentment. It stirs up anger, jealously, and envy within my soul as I begin to feel bitterness towards those whose plans have worked out perfectly, while mine were seemingly wadded up and thrown away. Basically, it makes an already difficult journey even more difficult.
And this is why Beth says we have to let it go.
We have to resist the urge to resent the way things are, and instead embrace what is happening. Because God does have a plan for our lives that is full of hope and future. And a purpose for our pain. And a reason for the delay.
Looking back to that mid-Saturday morning when I sat captivated by her wisdom and frantically writing down every word, I realize that while there is a section of my notes missing from my notebook, they are instead written on my heart. A heart that now feels lighter because I have finally let the should haves…and the should have beens….go.
Sweet friend, are there any “shoulds” that you replay over and over in your mind that you need to let go? You know…
“I should be pregnant by now…”
“I am a good person, therefore I shouldn’t be going through this…”
“My life shouldn’t look this way…”
If so, I encourage you to release them today. And later whenever you begin to feel yourself become anxious about your life again, and where it is going, and all that is happening (because you will), remember the following verses. For I believe they will restore your hope. Give you strength for the journey. And settle your fearful and overwhelmed heart and mind.
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing,but later you will understand.” John 13:7
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
Pssst…here are a few other “take aways” from my sit down session with Beth:
- Year 2 or 3 on the infertility journey becomes the hardest for hopeful parents. In fact, 76% of women suffering from infertility have clinical anxiety and 53% have depression, although many will go undiagnosed. So friends, please don’t wait too long to get help in processing your emotions!
- When swimming in an ocean, it is better to face the wave head on when wanting to get through it. This is also true with needing to get through grief. We must face it if we want to get through it. In addition, there is less long term trauma if addressed early.
- Infertility assaults you in ever facet of life: your perception of life and death, your relationship with your body, your partner, your family, and with God. It also assaults your career, finances, and your dreams of how you thought your life would look.
- It is better to not make promises to yourself because if you can’t or don’t keep them, then you will see yourself as a liar, or incompetent. For example: It is not wise to say, “I will do only 3 IUI’s”, etc. Because when the third IUI doesn’t work and you feel strongly to do another, you will resent yourself, and like I said, view yourself as a liar or even failure for not being able to stick to your own promises.
- Couples grieve together, but differently.
- It takes a couple 7 years on average of navigating the grief of infertility before they seek help.
- When you hold the secret of infertility it brings the feeling of shame even if you are unashamed. In most cases, it is better to be open about your struggles.
- The reason a person begins to blame themselves, blame their bodies, or blame their decisions is because they are going into a self-protection mode.
**For pictures, be sure to click here to head on over to my post, “A Weekend of Firsts at FertilityIQ Basecamp”.
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