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The Powerful Phrase I Wish I'd Known During My Infertility Journey

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We were on our way to meet some friends at our favorite Italian restaurant downtown. A welcome distraction on a Friday night. I sat in the passenger seat of the car mindlessly staring out the window as we passed by the row of small businesses lining the street. The local pizza shop, an independent toy store, a women’s clothing boutique.  I really need some new clothes, I thought to myself.

Luckily I’d managed to find a pair of jeans that still fit and a billowing shirt that hid my protruding stomach. Not only had I gained ten pounds, I was bloated from the medication I was taking during our latest round of fertility treatments.

Every morning for the past two weeks had been spent at the fertility clinic. Sitting in the dim waiting room on the uncomfortable molded plastic chairs, waiting for my turn to have an ultrasound and get my blood drawn before meeting with the doctor to find out how my body was responding to the drugs. After a discussion about follicle size and hormone levels I would have to rush off to get to work on time. I was crossing my fingers that this month’s protocol would result in a pregnancy, but I knew from repeated failures not to get my hopes up too high. The last year of my life had revolved around failed fertility treatments and I really needed a night out to get my mind off things.

As we pulled up to a red light, half way to the restaurant, a silver SUV stopped beside our car. That’s when I noticed the stick figure family plastered to the back window.  The perfect family in descending order. A hockey playing dad, a mom holding a pair of golf clubs, a young boy on a skate board and a baby wearing a diaper with a bow in her hair.

Tears immediately sprang to my eyes and my body erupted in goose bumps as a wave of sadness flowed through me. I felt the familiar hollow vibrating energy in my chest. The physical manifestation of my depression. I kept my head turned away from my husband who was driving because I didn’t want him to see me crying, again. That stick figure family reminded me of exactly what I was trying to keep my mind off of.  I hate those stupid sticker families. Why do people have to put them on the back of their cars? I thought to myself angrily taking a deep gulping breath of air.

My husband reached over the cup holders sitting between us and placed a comforting hand on my lap. “I hate those stickers too” he said squeezing my leg.

It was hard not to feel like the world was rubbing my infertility in my face. Everywhere I looked I was reminded of the fact that I wasn’t a mom. It felt like every commercial on TV was for diapers, every woman I passed was pregnant, every car I drove by had a  sticker family on the back window. Every reminder that my body couldn’t do what it was supposed to chipped another piece of my self confidence away.

At the time it didn’t seem like the pain would ever end, but we eventually made it through our infertility journey and I became the mom I had always dreamed of.  My daughter just turned 8 years old. I decided to write a memoir about my difficult path to parenthood and I am now trying to find a traditional publisher to publish my book. The odds of this happening are slim, but I am as determined to make this happen as I was to become a mom.

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Recently I was speaking about my publication goals with my mindset coach when he said to me, “What you focus on expands.” He explained that if I am focused on looking for a publisher I will start seeing more opportunities to make connections, which will lead to achieving my dreams. That’s when it hit me.

That’s what must have been happening all those years ago when I was going through fertility treatments. I was so focused on having a baby that was all I could see. What I was focusing on was expanding.

Maybe if I had known that concept at the time I could have applied it to my life and used it to give me a different perspective. I could have told myself, Yes I am seeing it everywhere because I want it so much, because having a baby is so important to me. Instead of looking at each reminder as a bad thing I could have looked at them as reinforcements of my dreams to become a mom. I know it would not have taken away the pain, but it might have helped mitigate it a little bit. When you are going through the roller coaster ride of infertility every little bit helps.

Now I am using the lessons I learned on my journey towards parenthood to help me get my book published.

The chances of that happening are slim, but I was able to beat the odds and have a child. I know if I put the same amount of effort in to that, then it will happen too.

Getty image by nopow

Originally published: October 6, 2020
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