Thanksgiving is the holiday of food, family, and giving thanks. Is it possible to find thankfulness in the midst of an infertility journey?
Though it isn’t always easy, the answer is yes.
To arrive at your own place of gratitude, try to look with open-minded kindness at the life you have right now. Notice how much of your attention is on what is not present in your life (a pregnancy, a baby, another child), and then gently redirect your attention to the good that is present in your life. The good things may include people that you treasure, activities you enjoy and all that is comforting and fulfilling. For everyone it will be different things.
For me, years ago, it was gratitude for a small handful of friends who understood my longing; for the faith community that valued my volunteer efforts; for the graduate study program where I could feel completely normal; and even for my slightly misguided therapist who kept asking, “what’s really behind that desire for a baby?” I could not know how my journey to a family would turn out, but I could hold in my heart these gifts and give thanks for them.
Over the past 20 years, I have worked with thousands of people who have overcome their infertility diagnosis. They have shared the many ways that their infertility experience resulted in gratitude in different areas of their lives.
Thanksgiving is too special a holiday to miss out on. Find your gratitude place and inhabit it as fully as you can.
If tough days come along this holiday season, take a look at some of the positive viewpoints offered by others who have been in your shoes. Some share positive viewpoints that got them through, while others share viewpoints from the other side of their journey.
Here are their suggestions:
Find a clear perspective on what really matters. After a winding path to parenthood with many twists and turns, some of the “big” stuff seems much smaller.
Try to make the most of every moment. Living through tough diagnoses and treatments can help you bring about positive change in your life in the form of a new mindset, new habits, new goals, and a new outlook.
Savor each day. Living in the moment may feel like second nature after waiting so long for your little loved one, but each day is precious.
Recognize your own strength and resilience. Everyone knows the old saying, “That what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” In the moment, you may not like to hear it, but you may also realize the truth behind it. You have probably never been stronger and more resilient than you are right now.
Draw strength from your support team. Anyone going through infertility knows that it is impossible to endure alone. Family and friends play a critical role in keeping your chin up. When your long-awaited child arrives, you have an excited and enthusiastic team behind you that is eager to celebrate.
Know that you have a unique story of how your beloved child came to be. You know exactly when he or she was conceived, and became a biological part of you. Not many can say that they’ve seen their little one before he or she grew inside a belly or joined the family. If a child comes to you through adoption, you also have a unique and moving narrative to tell.
Author Bio: Marie Davidson, Fertility Counselor
Dr. Marie Davidson is a licensed clinical psychologist and patient educator. She specializes in counseling individuals and couples who are coping with infertility, and has provided counseling services to patients, donors and surrogates since 1992.
Dr. Davidson earned her doctoral degree at the University of Illinois in 1988. She facilitates patient education seminars on numerous topics such as considering egg donation and cracking the door to adoption, leads several women’s and couples support groups, and is widely published in the fertility field. She has been an invited speaker at many professional meetings.
Her personalized care and detailed understanding of the treatment process have been a welcome and supportive resource to many couples and individuals as they seek to grow a family.