A few weeks ago I shared the integration of a kitten into our family.
As it turns out, old dogs can learn new tricks.
I promised in that blog that I would connect the dots. About why this is relevant to infertility and fertility treatment.
Here it is.
We are capable of change.
We are capable of doing that which we swore we could or would not.
We are made to expand our thoughts and our heart to embrace situations and circumstances that we had previously thought we could not.
It could mean treatment that you decided you would never do. It could mean one more cycle when you weren’t planning on it. It could mean a change in protocol or medications. It could mean being open to donor egg, donor ovum or a gestational carrier.
It could mean looking at your life differently. Replanning. Rethinking.
Maybe adoption becomes more realistic. Even if you know it’s not the right thing for you. Even if you deep down know it. Go to an adoption meeting. Speak to someone who’s adopted, listen with your heart.
Change is possible. It’s possible when we are willing to explore the unfamiliar. It’s possible when we are willing to explore the familiar and be open to seeing something new.
Perhaps it means childfree living. Not what you wanted, I know. Not what you dreamed of. Not what you envisioned for yourself.
Still, can you take a look at it with new eyes? A new perspective?
Being a yogi, I am a big believer in looking at things from upside down and sideways.
Try it. Look at the familiar with new eyes.
Change is possible.
When a couple is childfree, there is often a set of assumptions made about them. One such assumption is that they have free time to do all the things that people with families and “real lives” don’t have time to do. I know this, because I speak with my younger sister often. She and her husband chose not to have children together, and so she has not raised or parented a child.
She is not the only one. There are several other people who I speak with regularly who have not had children. Some because they could not, some because they chose not to. Childfree is a phrase that was made popular by a wonderful couple, Jean and Michael Carter. The Carter’s wrote a book called “Sweet Grapes”, one of my all time favorite books.
I have written about the book before. I come back to it again as it is a book that empowers choice. Infertility takes away our choice. Or does it? It certainly seems that way. It certainly feels that way. I know it probably even looks that way to others. Childfree even looks like a person or couple has had no choice.
Yet we still have choice. We may not have a child in our homes the way that we once dreamed of. They may come as a foster child, an adopted child, a donor egg or donor sperm child; yet they are all children. They may not even live in our homes; they may be a beloved niece or nephew we dote on. The child in our life may be someone we mentor or teach to read or take on trips to a museum.
Childfree does not mean we don’t have a “real life” or that we have nothing to do with our time but lament our loss. Childfree is the life that we embrace when we are ready to make a choice to end treatment. Childfree is the life that we choose when we decide to move on and explore new possibilities in life.
So before you make assumptions about that person or couple who doesn’t have to find a babysitter for a Saturday night or who can take a vacation on the spur of the moment, just take a moment to consider what it may have taken for them to have gotten there. They may have been on a road similar to the one that you are on. They may have made a different choice than the one you are making.
We all get to make choices. Even when struggling with infertility.
I often wonder what would have happened if I had fallen in love with and married a different man. Whether if in a different relationship, I would have struggled for so long with infertility. Maybe we always wonder what if. What if I had, what if I hadn't. What if I hadn't struggled so long with infertility
; what would be different in my exterior life, the things we can all see? What would be different inside of me, deep where no one can see? Would my compassion be different, my empathy, my understanding of life and how I move through things?
When I was speaking to a friend yesterday, he remarked that he was so overwhelmed that he couldn't even begin to speak about what's going on his life, it's just too much. I understood that feeling completely and utterly, as well as the feeling that having to say it all out loud yet again was also just too much. We went on to discuss how so many of us are feeling this way, overwhelmed, stretched too tight, overscheduled, with major, life worries. While I was listening to him, while I was talking and responding, my brain was also peering back to a much earlier conversation with my oldest friend. I have no idea how to credit this conversation, so please don't expect a link, it was one of thousands of conversations that I've had with her over the past 40+ years. When my friend in the present moment finished his thought about trying to stay sane in the midst of what truly felt insane, I brought up this other conversation from many years ago.
The story, often repeated, (frequently misquoted, including by me, I'm sure), is about a group of Native Americans sitting around a fire. Each was invited to throw into the fire their deepest, most troubling problem or secret. Be it physical, emotional, spiritual, here was the opportunity to throw into the fire, the worst of the worst. The only caveat being that at the end, each person would also have to remove from the fire something that had been thrown in. Hmmm. As I brought up this story yesterday to my friend, he excitedly interrupted. He and yet another friend had recently been discussing just that concept, just that story. And we all decided, in those conversations, in the one that I had years before, in the one that had been had just a few days prior and the conversation in the present moment, that ultimately the problems that we struggled with were most likely the problems that we would draw back out of the fire.
When I was in the midst of my struggles with infertility, I knew certain things. One, I would not give up my husband to have a baby. Two, I did not regret marrying him. Three, one way or another, he and I were a family, even if it stayed that way, with just the two of us.
Notice that I did say I knew these things in the midst of infertility. I didn't necessarily know these things in the beginning. I didn't necessarily even know these things every minute. There were times where I would have sworn that I would have given up anything to have a baby. My sight, my arm, the entire rest of my family. That probably sounds bizarre. At least to those of you who are reading who have not struggled to conceive a child, create a family, or lost a much wanted pregnancy. To those of us who have experienced that, it doesn't sound quite so bizarre. There are probably plenty of you, us, who understand the idea of wanting to make a deal with the devil to save a loved one, or to have a baby.
I would not have picked out of the fire an abusive husband. Or cancer. Or many other things. I felt, personally, that my struggle uniquely suited my ability to manage. You may not feel that way. You may feel that you would pick anything else in there except infertility. I wonder though, if you really would.
Interestingly enough yesterday, my friend, whom I love dearly, never ended up sharing his troubles with me, nor did I share mine with him. The conversation was still strangely comforting. The details didn't matter, just the sharing of troubles and knowing that neither of us was alone in feeling them.
Seems to be my theme of the week.
You are not alone.
Let me know how you're doing out there.
I am hungry for food that is not good for me- quoted from a facebook friend this morning. It made me think about that in a broader way, past the obvious of chocolate or fried foods. What foods do we hunger for that are not good for us, in terms of behavior? What do we say yes to doing that almost certainly should have been a no?
When we don't take that walk, but watch 3 hours of the "Biggest Loser" (yes, me, this weekend, how embarrassing to confess!), what are the consequences? Sometimes when I teach Fertile Yoga, and we stand with head below your heart, releasing the vertebrae in your neck by nodding your head yes and then shaking your head no, I talk about the word no. It has such negative connotations. LOL. Right, obviously. No means no, right? No means denial; it means "I won't, I can't"; it means the possibility of something left undone; it means unhelpful; selfish; it can even mean rejection, all the way down to the sense of who we are.
Ah, but I LOVE the word no. If you've been reading my blog, you know that I'm not much for using capitals as a way of making a point. This is important to me. I do love the word no. It opens up a whole new realm to most of us.
Here's my thought process around this: when I say no to something, what am I saying yes to? The first time I read about this concept was in a book called the Yoga Sutras, the classical text of Indian philosophy, written in the second century, BC. Then I started to hear my teachers talk about it, in class. It affected me most powerfully one day in class, upside down, in headstand. It took literally being upside down, (a fairly different perspective), to hear what my teachers were saying.
This is what I got. We pride ourselves on saying yes, we even use it as a benchmark to prove how willing, generous, compassionate we are. We feel helpful when we say yes. On the flip side? We feel guilty, selfish, limiting when we say no.
Except, let's look at it upside down. (Since that's what it took me to understand the part that I now feel like I have absorbed.) Every single time I say yes to something, I say no to something else. When I decide yes, to spend time, money, energy, I am deciding no to other things. Yes, I will do another chore in my home, no; I will not spend time with my partner. Yes, I will take on more work at my job; no, I will not have time to work out. Yes, I will volunteer at the youth center; no I will not have time to spend with my nieces and nephews.
I have noticed that very often the yes's are for other people, and the no's are to ourselves and our families. But mainly? The no's are to ourselves.
Our time and energy are resources. Use yours wisely. When you say yes to something, you are saying no to something else. When you say no, what wonderful world of yes's are you opening up?
And last, if you are in fertility treatment, this is exactly the time to take a peek at this. When you are "upside down". When caring for yourself can help you achieve your goal.
This is the day, January 18, 2010, that we are going to reclaim the word no as a positive force. As a way of seeing the choices that become available when we say no to something. What can you say no to today that allows you to say yes to yourself?