Thursday, April 23, 2020

Day 308 (NIAW Day 4)

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week, so I'm spending to dedicate some of my blog space to that this week. 

I recently did the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly/better known as StrengthsFinder), and my top strength was "Achiever." Achievers have a reputation for being hardworking, productive, and goal-oriented. This strength is typically a good thing, as is having the attitude of gratitude that I mentioned yesterday. There is, however, such a thing as "too much of a good thing," and my infertility has brought that out in me with respect to achievement and gratefulness.

While I knew I was a busy person, I can truly see how active and scheduled I was before everything shut down with COVID-19. I put a lot of pressure on myself to exceed expectations, and sometimes that backfires. Infertility is not the kind of problem a person can fix by studying hard or reading about it. Even the "just keep practicing" advice is only applicable at certain times. I think that is part of what has been so challenging for me. Many of the problems I have had to face in life have been resolved by dedicating beaucoups (I just recently realized that's how to spell "boo koos") of time and effort. For most things I have not excelled at, beaucoups of time and effort would have helped me thrive. Infertility is not that way. Working hard doesn't result in fertility bonus points; in fact, the stress of a busy, overscheduled lifestyle could make the situation worse.


Sometimes, I have also been hard on myself because I realize that many women have much longer, more difficult struggles than I do. As I mentioned, Richard and I have unexplained infertility. It is possible that we are just super unlucky with timing. Some couples have to work through complicated diagnoses before they can conceive. Some people have miscarriages. Some couples receive news that they are not able to have biological children. Then there's me, and I have experienced none of those things. I have been disappointed 24 months in a row. That has involved some tear, frustration, and loss of hope, but some people have it so much worse.

In turn, I would feel guilty for being sad when some people have it so much worse than I do. I told myself that I should be grateful that the worst that has happened is spending time crying and being disappointed. The combination of the sadness I felt due to my infertility and the guilt I felt for feeling that way compounded and made everything worse. Eventually, I came to realize that being sad and disappointed did not make me ungrateful.

It took time for me to realize that (1) infertility is not resolved by working harder and (2) my feelings were valid. Accepting both of those facts felt like lifting an enormous weight off of my chest, but it took time. I don't know which of the CliftonStrengths reflects patience, but it certainly was not in my top five. I guess a silver lining to all of this is that I am being forced to grow in my patience as Richard and I wade through whatever comes next.

Something that made today great: I had a good run this afternoon!
Time I woke up: 8:45 am

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