I remember the first time I felt “the ache.”
We had all gathered at my sister-in-law’s house to celebrate her thirty-first birthday. After she had blown out the candles and everyone had started on the cake, she told us that she had an announcement to make.
“I’m pregnant. We’re going to have a baby.”
And then it came. The dagger to the chest, the blow to the stomach, that unmistakeable pain that paralyzes every part of your body for just a few seconds while you hope no one notices that you’re not beaming with excitement for the expectant mother.
I slapped on a smile and asked the obligatory questions. “When is it due? How are you feeling? How long had you been trying?” Blah. Blah. Blah.
The truth is that all I could think was, “Why do you get to be a mom? I want to be a mom. Why can’t it be me? It probably never will be. Of course not.” And down the rabbit hole I went, indulging my negative thoughts as if they had anything to do with reality.
Since that day six years ago, I’ve experienced “the ache” a countless number of times. I’d like to say that having a baby is the solution to getting rid of it. But ask any woman who has one child and is unable to have another how it feels, and you’ll soon discover that, like most things in life, it’s not that simple. At this point I experience it much less frequently than I used to, but the biggest difference is that I now know how to get through it. That’s what I want for you too.
My prescription for “the ache”
You run into someone you haven’t seen in a while and she just has to tell you “the good news.”
You feel the ache coming on. What do you do?
- Take a breath
- Say something that you would like to hear if you were in her situation. “Congratulations! That’s wonderful for you.”
- Decide how you would like the rest of the conversation to go.
- You’re feeling strong: Be honest about where you are in your own fertility journey. “I’m still trying, but I know it will happen when it’s meant to.” Be aware that this could open you up to a slieu of questions and unsolicited advice.
- You’ve got your guard up: Don’t give anything away and keep the focus on her.
- You just can’t: Make up a reason why you can’t stay to chat but would love to catch up another day. Sometimes you won’t be in a good head space to engage in these conversations, and it’s okay to give yourself a time out.
Later . . .
- Call a friend who will listen to how you’re really feeling. Ideally it will be someone who doesn’t know the other woman so you can be totally open and honest without judgement.
- Reach out to your Fertility Coach and let her know that you need some extra support.
- When you find yourself drifting back to that moment, repeat an affirmation that will activate your faith in the universe. I often say, “Everyone has her own path. Mine is unfolding just as it should.”
- Make a list of everything that’s going well for you in your life right now. If you’re really feeling down and aren’t sure where to start, begin by listing parts of your body that are functioning every day without a problem. My friend and entrepreneurial coach Lisette Sandoval turned me on to this a few months ago and it really works. You can read more about it here: http://www.mejorarmivida.net/blog/gratitude-circles
As painful as “the ache” can be, remember that you wouldn’t have it if you didn’t want to be a mom. It’s your heart expressing its longing.
The trick is to not let your longing turn into despair, but rather transform it into positive action.
When was the last time you felt “the ache?” How do you experience it? What do you do to get through it? Let me know in the comments below.