Infertility and fear.
Fear as defined by the dictionary:
1. an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.
: to expect or worry about (something bad or unpleasant)
fear. [feer] /fɪər/ a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid
A feeling of agitation and dread usually caused by the presence or imminence of danger.
What do you see that all of these definitions have in common?
Unpleasant. Distressing. Agitating.
So called negative emotions. Uncomfortable sensations. Often felt in our bodies in addition to our minds. Think clenched stomachs and hunched shoulders.
Fear calls your attention in a way that is impossible to ignore.
You can think of it as an alarm or alert. Sometimes fear is big flashing neon lights and sometimes it’s a simple little beeping. Not all fear is created equal. Not every fear has the same amount of endurance- some fears come in and make themselves at home for a long time inside of us, roaring when provoked. Some fears appear so briefly that we barely notice them; they disappear within a blink of an eye.
Fear is nearly impossible to ignore when it’s sudden and strident. We denigrate fear as a negative emotion- without doubt; it’s not pleasant to feel. But that’s not really the question. Or at least it’s not my question.
Does Infertility Fear Have a Purpose?
My question is does it serve us? Does fear have a purpose?
My answer for myself? Unquestionably yes, it serves a purpose. That doesn’t mean I like it any more than you do. My body, heart, mind, spirit all cringe when I feel fear– everything contracts. I feel smaller, diminished, less powerful and able. Just as you probably do. Still, it serves a purpose for me. Fear alerts me that there is something to examine. That there is something in my sights that needs attention.
My paying attention has turned out to mean much more than just acknowledging it. A brief nod at fear and going back to whatever I was doing neither satisfies fear nor removes or reduces it. Sometimes that ignoring can shrink it down momentarily, however, I have found that then, given a little oxygen later, much like a fire, it can become a wall of destruction.
When I treat fear with respect (the respect I see all our emotions as deserving), I am rewarded. I learn something about myself. I learn something about the world. Fear is the impetus to look beyond what I am comfortable with, what I am sure is true, to stretch and grow.
I examine my fear carefully. What do I need to learn? Do I need to step more carefully than I am doing? Do I need to research my choices rather than just diving in? Do I need to wait for a few minutes and let things settle? Do I need to build some muscles, physically or emotionally? Do I need to expand my network of support? Do I need to ask more questions and if so, of whom?
Aren’t those reasonable questions to ask oneself when fear does us the kindness of alerting us to possible danger?
Do I understand the risks of what I am undertaking? The benefits?
Aren’t those reasonable questions to ask yourself when fear raises its head?
Why Do We Dislike Fear?
We don’t ignore happiness. We don’t ignore frustration. We don’t ignore joy. Why would we ignore what we can learn from fear?
Maybe fear gets a bad rap because a tendency is to get stuck in fear. To sit in it. To become unable to face it. And it’s good to know that you do not need to face fear by yourself. Far from it. There’s nothing like airing it out to see that it’s perhaps not as big, bad or as complicated as you thought it might be. At the very least? If it is just as big, bad and complicated as you thought it was, talking to other people who have experienced situations like yours can offer you a vision of how it could be handled. (Some examples of infertility fears are listed below- with some possible ways to handle it.)
What I’ve noticed is that when I pay attention to my fear- when I air it out loud to a trusted friend, when I check to see if I’m prepared for what I’m setting out to do, when I consider other choices- that my fear subsides.
And becomes manageable. And doesn’t stop me from moving ahead, I can breathe and step forward more confidently. Even if fear is right there with me.
When I pay fear the respect that it deserves, fear absolutely serves me. Very often, faced with a similar situation, after having faced my fear, the fear is deeply diminished. And every time after that, there is less and less evidence of fear.
Common Infertility Fears
Some very common infertility fears:
- Something is wrong
- Taking oral medication
- Giving yourself injections
- Finding the money for fertility treatment
- Getting time off from your job for doctors appointments
- Fertility treatment results
When those fears are first acknowledged as being worthy of your attention and then are faced, resolutions for your fear can often look like these:
- Something is wrong – see a board certified reproductive endocrinologist. The right kind of doctor for a problem with your reproductive system.
- Taking oral medication – join a support group and find out from others how the medications have affected them.
- Giving yourself injections – take the teach classes that are offered, watch the videos on the patient portal, practice on a piece of fruit.
- Finding the money for fertility treatment – speak to your financial representative, speak to your insurance company, speak to Fertility Within Reach.
- Getting time off from your job for doctors visit – find out from your Human Resources department what the policy is for these types of days off, check what your vacation reserve is, decide if you feel comfortable sharing with your boss what is going on for you.
- Fertility treatment results – consider getting short term mental health support, join a support group, join Ladies Night In Online.
Maybe you have different ways of moving forward when you are feeling fear, other than those listed above. We are all individuals. The key? Not to stay stuck in your fear.
I know that fear serves me. I am grateful for that reminder to pay attention to myself, my surroundings, my inner world and the outer world. And to not become paralyzed.
One powerful antidote to fear? To say it out loud. To share it with a friend.
To know that you are not alone.