Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Day 309 (NIAW Day 3)

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

The day after I ran the Loup Garou 40-miler in 2018, I was hanging out with some other GOATS while we waited on the 100 milers to finish up. I had just met my friend Laura's husband that weekend while we were camping, and I must have been particularly energetic that day because he asked me, "You really love running, huh?" and I said, "I love being alive!" It's true. Even with the bad stuff, life is good.

I like to think I fall into the excellent (or at least above average) category for maintaining a positive attitude and outlook on life. When I started my first 100 day blogging challenge, I committed to reporting at least one thing that was great about the day because I believe that even the bad days have good moments. Like we talked about at Girls on the Run, it is important to develop an attitude of gratitude!

Well, even for people who are positive, negativity creeps in sometimes.

For a while, every month was a repeat of the same cycle of tracking my fertile window, getting my hopes up that it would be the month that we were successful, and feeling crestfallen when my period arrived again. Some people who experience infertility do not ovulate each month, which means that their opportunities for conception are fewer and farther between than someone like me who has a regular menstrual cycle. I told myself I should be grateful that at least I knew I wasn't pregnant and could start planning for the next cycle.

The hopeful stage typically included looking forward in my calendar to approximate a birth month, thinking about how I would tell Richard (assuming that I could restrain myself enough not to immediately text him a photo of a positive pregnancy test), and rationalizing why that month was different from all of the others. On months when I finished or nearly finished a box of tampons, I would think to myself, "Maybe I won't have to buy these again for a while!" I would also look for any slight indication that I could be pregnant. A tricky thing that I did not really realize until we were trying to conceive, however, is that premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and early pregnancy share many symptoms.

I found myself thinking I had been foolish to be hopeful. Specifically, I said mean things to myself things such as, "It was dumb to think you wouldn't need to buy more period supplies this month," and "It was stupid to think that this month would be any different." The worst things I could think to tell myself were all related to being foolish or stupid for being hopeful after I did what I thought was right to finally conceive.

One day, I read this post about reframing negative self-talk (which does contain some F words and some anti-Trump sentiments), and it really made me stop and think about the way I talk to myself. The link post specifically mentions Donald Trump, but it could work with anyone. If any other person said some of the things I have said to myself, I would tell them to shut up, and then I would file them away in my mental filing cabinet under "H" for "horrible people." Why, then, would I tolerate that kind of treatment from myself?

With some effort, I have gotten my thinking back on track and stopped calling myself stupid for being hopeful and optimistic. I don't follow the advice of the post exactly; I try to be kinder to myself than the person in the Tumblr post would be to Donald Trump. Still, acknowledging that the things I am telling myself are false and hurtful and that I would not tolerate them from other people has helped me shut that behavior down. Even though infertility is frustrating, learning to cope has helped tremendously.

Something that made today great: We had a Gamma Iota alumnae mini-IRD on Zoom today!
Time I woke up: 8:30 am

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